Are we nearing the end of the post-apocalyptic TV drama boom?
NBC has ordered a dramedy series titled Apocalypse that stars Rob Lowe, Megan Mullally, Jenna Fischer and Matthew Baynton. The set-up: A comet is on an unavoidable collision course toward Earth and one extended family must navigate the societal chaos that ensues. Characters include “a foul-mouthed priest, an unhinged white supremacist, a mild-mannered bank manager, a germ-phobic cyber-terrorist, a five-star general and a child who (possibly) rose from the dead.”
They say that parodies signal the coming demise of a popular genre; see also how 1980’s Airplane! crashed the airline disaster movie streak, 1974’s Blazing Saddles was credited with largely shooting down the western, and 2000’s Scary Movie franchise coincided with a creative slump in the horror genre (with some notable exceptions, like 2002’s The Ring). Somehow, I suspect this quasi-spoof will not quite be a modern-day Blazing Saddles in terms of its cultural impact—but comedy has been increasingly making its way into the post-apocalyptic genre lately, like with last year’s This is the End and The World’s End. (Not to mention The Last Man on Earth, which debuts on Fox in March.)
No genre truly dies, of course, but the popularity of different genres is definitely cyclical. Currently, TV has plenty of titles mining the post-apoc wasteland, which could suggest a tipping point is neigh: take FX’s The Strain, HBO’s The Leftovers, Syfy’s Dominion and 12 Monkeys, TNT’s The Last Ship and Falling Skies, CBS’ Under the Dome and upcoming Zoo, A&E’s upcoming remake of The Returned and, of course, the highest-rated show on TV that’s helping inspire all these newcomers, AMC’s The Walking Dead (which is also getting a companion series).
EW previously asked this same “is it dead?” question about the vampire genre last year—and while The Strain performed solidly and The CW’s vampire franchises are still fine, there’s no doubt neck-biters feel over-ish at this point. New titles have to bring something very fresh to stand out.
I’m a bit more reluctant to hail the demise of post-apocalyptic shows because, well, it’s one of my favorite genres, and a world-ending crisis is one of the quickest ways to grab my inner 12-year-old-boy’s interest. What do you think? Is all the gloom and doom getting stale, or do you want more desperate bands of survivors roaming lawless streets?