A short review of “Station Eleven” (2022)

If you are a fan of apocalyptic thrillers, as I am, then HBO Max’ “Station Eleven” might disappoint — its truly unnerving initial episodes gradually give way to the character-driven drama that I’m sure are the focus its source material.  (I haven’t read Emily St. John Mandel’s internationally bestselling novel, but I loved this miniseries so much that I plan to.  And the book gets glowing recommendations from that most erudite of sources, my Mary Washington College alums.)

The show is still incredibly good.  I’d rate it a perfect 10 for being a beautifully scripted, surprising, moving and original story that leans heavily into the themes that presumably spring from the book.  I can’t remember the last time I was as emotionally invested in the survivors of an end-of-the-world tale.  (Other reviewers have wisely observed that it’s surprisingly hopeful for a story about a flu that wipes out humanity.)

As far as its themes go, your mileage may vary with how well they resonate.  It is very much about the power of art.  (Here’s a treat for comic fans — its central plot device is an in-universe, self-published graphic novel that is has nothing to do with the plague.)  “Station Eleven” seems to have a few optimistic things to say about human nature — and about the possibility of reconnecting with people who are important to us.  (The former was a little less plausible to a cynic like me.  I honestly believe that shallow, aloof or selfish people do not become less so after calamity strikes.)

I highly recommend this.  It really is a successful example of experimental, genre-busting storytelling.


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