Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Post-apocalyptic TV dramas proliferating. Part of Obama’s legacy?
This fall there will be three television dramas airing that take place in a world gone to hell. NBC has “Revolution,” set after the world loses all electrical power. TNT has “Falling Skies,” set after an alien invasion has devastated the planet. And AMC has “The Walking Dead,” which takes place after a zombie apocalypse.
Before these three programs there hasn’t been a mainstream TV drama set in a post-apocalyptic world since CBS aired “Jericho” (2006-08).
Art often reflects our fears.
For instance, during the Cold War, there were a lot of movies about nuclear annihilation or the threat of it.
Times aren’t so great now. We’re in a sluggish economy, with U.S. unemployment stuck above 8%, and are worried about Europe’s financial woes causing problems for the rest of the world. Plus, the U.S. has a government than can’t get anything done.
Then there are ever-present worries about terrorism, wars, global warming, flu pandemics and other threats.
It’s no wonder that the entertainment industry has such a bleak world view.
It’s interesting that we’ve moved from entertainment about the coming end of the world to dealing with the aftermath.
Just a few years back, Hollywood seemed to be making a lot of movies about the coming apocalypse or the world under attack. Those movies include “Independence Day,” “Deep Impact,” “Armageddon” and “2012.”
Now popular entertainment has shifted more to entertainment that focuses on what happens to the survivors of doomsday scenarios. Maybe Hollywood thinks that our prospects are so bleak that apocalypse is a done deal, so let’s focus on what happens to the unlucky few who survive.
In addition to the three television series, there are two current Web series dealing with life in post-apocalyptic settings. They are Tom Hanks’ animated series “Electric City” for Yahoo and Bryan Singer’s “H+” for Google’s YouTube.
“Electric City” takes place in a future where electricity is a scarce resource. “H+” is set in a future where people have technology embedded in their brains, but a computer virus in the system kills a third of the population.
I could count Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” as a fourth current TV series set in with a post-apocalyptic world. But that’s not the focus of the show.
Does the proliferation of TV dramas portraying a world gone to hell say something about the political climate today? Is it a reflection on the presidency of Barack Obama? Does it symbolize the nation’s pessimism?
I’m no sociologist, but I’d say there’s probably something there.
Photos: Promo for “The Walking Dead” season 3 (top), banner ad for “Falling Skies” season two, and still photo from “Revolution.”
“Post-apocalyptic TV is everywhere” (CNN; June 15, 2012)
ApocalypticMovies.com (Website no longer active.)