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Courtesy of NBC

February 2, 2016

A Barrel of Apoca-laughs

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I think it is safe to say that we are all pretty familiar with the apocalypse and its effects at this point. Whether it is watching a spunky girl fighting her way through its aftermath (apply this to whichever franchise you prefer), seeing aliens and zombies threaten the earth (again, your choice for this reference) or simply watching ordinary people prepare for the end of times, the apocalypse is not suddenly appearing on our screens. Despite the frequency with which our dear planet meets its end, You, Me and the Apocalypse offers a refreshingly fun and quirky take on the end times that makes it well worth watching.

You, Me and the Apocalypse opens its premiere with a shot of the meteor whose impending collision threatens all life on Earth, a surprisingly calm voiceover about how death comes for everyone in the end and the sickeningly sweet tune “I Can See Clearly Now.” The camera cuts to the narrator sitting in an underground bunker, watching the news coverage and wondering how he got to be one of 15 survivors meant to be the future of the human race. So as the episode name asks, “Who Are These People” in the bunker?

Jaimie, the narrator, is a straight-laced British man dedicated to his boring routines and finding his wife, who went missing immediately after their honeymoon seven years ago. Jaimie repeatedly tells his roommate that he likes his rut and hates surprises so, naturally, agents are surveilling him and arrest him the same day. Also, the end of the world is coming and that’s not exactly boring either.

The police think that Jaimie is “White Horse,” the leader of an international cyber-terrorist group á la Anonymous. Jaimie, while slightly concerned that someone is running around with the same face as him, just wants to get back to his normal life until he sees that his missing wife appears in photos with White Horse. Thanks to his mundane, routine life, however, Jaimie has an air-tight alibi and is released. Unfortunately, the agent refuses to release information about Jaimie’s wife.

Meanwhile, Rhonda (Jenna Fisher), a sweet librarian, is in jail for hacking into the Pentagon. The prisoners are not welcoming to a naïve librarian and Rhonda realizes that her plan will not be as easy as she thought. She also learns that she has been denied bail despite not actually stealing or leaking any information. Unfortunately, she does not learn this information before she flips off both the white supremacists led by Leanne (Megan Mullally) and the opposing gang. In a hilarious exchange between Rhonda and her lawyer, Rhonda reveals her vast knowledge of computers but her lawyer insists that she stop covering for her son who presumably knows how to use PowerPoint, unlike his mom.

The last bunker occupants to be introduced come from Italy. Celine, a young nun, longs for more than a life in the convent. Thanks to an older nun, Celine attains a job interview at the Vatican. After proving her tenacity, Father Jude (Rob Lowe) offers Celine a job as “quality control for saints,” but she does not know if she wants to spend her life with the slightly-irreverent, cigarette-smoking priest.

The President announces that the meteor will hit Earth in 34 days and everything starts to change even more drastically for our soon-to-be bunker inhabitants. Sister Celine takes the announcement as a sign from God to accept Father Jude’s offer and sets off with him to debunk the false prophets of the rapture. Chaos and riots ensue at Rhonda’s prison, as well as pretty much everywhere else. These events are dwarfed by White Horse’s hack, which frees all the prisoners. Rhonda is understandably confused and terrified until Jaimie’s look-alike grabs her (and Leanne, who is handcuffed to her ankle), claiming to be a big fan of her hacking. Rhonda is now confused and terrified, but safe from being shot. The real Jaimie learns amidst the chaos that he is adopted and could have a twin brother. He urges the agents to let him help their investigation. The agent says she no longer cares about the mission because the world is ending and hands him the file, sending him off on his new mission.

The characters are ultimately headed for the bunker, but how will they get there? Only time and plenty of antics will tell. You, Me and the Apocalypse’s premiere offers a promising dramedy that looks to stay entertaining and fun for its ten episode run.

You, Me and the Apocalypse is quirky and slightly absurd. The show’s atmosphere succeeds because the writers and cast embrace these qualities. One-liners and clearly delivered jokes are abundant and made me laugh out loud throughout the premiere, but the show succeeds comedically in a more subtle way as well. Each cast member excellently brings somber, dramatic acting to their absurd situations, heightening the comedy.

The show’s dark subject matter is mitigated by its ridiculous plot lines, as well as our knowledge that the characters we have grown to love will survive, for a while at least. As long as the show continues to embrace its quirkiness, it has the potential to be a refreshing piece of programming within and outside of the apocalypse genre and downright fun television.

Brynn Richter is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at ber65@cornell.edu. 

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