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Apocalyptic endurance: a review of “Station Eleven”

Courtesy of HBO Max.

You might be thinking to yourself, didn’t Ella include this in her “22 for 2022” article last edition? The answer is yes–I separately recommended “Station Eleven” the book and “Station Eleven” the HBO Max series. Since there’s already a book column in the Ultraviolet, I have decided that “Station Eleven” the show deserves more than the two-sentence elaboration I gave in my New Year’s article. 

The limited series can be found on HBO Max, just like this indie and underground show called “Euphoria”. As far as I know, it’s not one of the most popular programs on the streaming service, but I wholeheartedly believe that it deserves to be. 

The story follows Kirsten and Jeevan, who do not know each other at all. They meet at a production of “King Lear”, in which eight year-old Kirsten is playing young Goneril and Jeevan is an unemployed thirty year-old who wants to become a doctor. On that same fateful day, a devastating flu hits the world, and almost the entire population dies. By chance, Kirsten and Jeevan are stuck together, trying to survive. I know–cheery (and timely)! As unpleasant as it sounds, the show is ultimately a hopeful look at what binds us together, and I love every part of it. 

One theme that resonates with m was its appreciation for art’s capacity for personal connection. “Station Eleven” jumps between two different moments in time: when the fatal pandemic hit, and 20 years later. In the time period 20 years after the pandemic, the two main characters have long been separated and Kirsten is now a part of a traveling theater troupe called “the Traveling Symphony.” They aim to spread art amid the devastation of the Georgia Flu. As a certified dabbler in theater, I loved this aspect of the show: the costumes for the troupe’s production of “Hamlet” were remarkable, otherworldly, and the reimagining of Shakespeare’s work in a post-apocalyptic setting was hauntingly beautiful. The idea that art pervades all possible human tragedies was well-conveyed and made the show more uplifting than saddening. 

Another thing that I loved is the music selection– afterall, this is technically a music column. The “Station Eleven” soundtrack is eclectic and emphasizes an important theme of the show, which is remembrance. By featuring songs such as “Can I Kick It?” by Tribe Called Quest, “All Star” by Smash Mouth and “Somebody Please” by the Vanguards, the show reminds viewers of the diversity of human art that we would lose, if something like the Georgia Flu really occurred. 

Watching a show about a global pandemic that wipes out the population might sound like a bit of a bummer, especially in the midst of a real-life global pandemic. But “Station Eleven” is not disheartening—it’s the opposite. While the show has extremely sad moments, its ultimate message—one of the importance of art, the endurance of creativity and the connection that ultimately binds humans together—is uplifting and will leave you feeling reassured rather than shattered. So don’t let the pandemic storyline deter you; this show has a lot of heart. 

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