You, Me and the Apocalypse is a bold, adrenaline-fuelled comedy-drama about the last days of mankind – boasting a relentlessly entertaining mix of action, adventure, romance and wit set against a backdrop of apocalyptic chaos.
The story follows an eclectic group of seemingly unconnected characters around the world as their lives start to intersect in the most unexpected ways. All triggered by the news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course towards earth.
I have been looking forward to this show for quite a few weeks now, ever since I saw the first adverts. There’s a very impressive cast here; Mathew Baynton, Rob Lowe, Pauline Quirke, Megan Mulally, Paterson Joseph and so on and so forth. (Obviously, there are lots more people – Jenna Fischer, Joel Fry, Gaia Scodellaro – who are very talented, but the aforementioned are the ones I was immediately aware of.)
That, and it’s a great concept. 34 days until the end of the world? Sure. Apocalypse situations – anything that changes the status quo – always interest me in stories, because when done well, they can be really great character pieces. Lots of potential for interesting drama there.
The episode starts with a traditional framing device – our title character, Jamie Winton (Mathew Baynton) is narrating from the end of the series, before cutting to 34 days earlier. I’m not always a fan of that sort of thing, but it’s used to quite good effect here. You see, the characters we’re introduced to in this episode span the globe – Slough, New Mexico, and Vatican City are our main locations for the episode. The question of “How do these characters get from Point A to Point B?” is rather more interesting when such a breadth of distance has to be crossed – it presents a much more complicated question of what’s going to happen over the next ten episodes.
Similarly cleverly, the narration points out that there are 15 people in the underground bunker, trying to survive the apocalypse, but the camera very carefully withholds details, only showing us three of main characters (and a monkey) all of whom look very dishevelled and distressed. Immediately, a question is implicitly raised: “Who is going to make it to the end?” The framing device creates this question, rather than precluding it, which is typically the case with such devices.
And, of course, the characters we’re introduced to are all very interesting ones. Mathew Baynton as Jamie Winton, the bank manager who’s spent the past 7 years trying to deal with the disappearance of his wife – and on the same day that he finds out the world is ending, he gets new information as to her whereabouts. Jenna Fischer as Rhonda, a librarian arrested for high treason, covering for her son after he hacked into the NSA. And, of course, Rob Lowe as Father Jude, the Vatican’s very own Devil’s Advocate, with Gaia Scodellaro as his new assistant, the nun who wants to travel the world. They’re characters who work, with really skilled actors performing some excellently written parts.
It is, of course, a very funny series as well. I’d originally expected it to be more in the vein of a half hour sitcom, acting as something more of a joke machine, not too dissimilar to Parks and Rec – but, of course, when I saw that each episode was an hour long, I realised it’d be a little different. The humour does tend to come from the characters (Rob Lowe’s Father Jude is by far the funniest, as a priest who drinks, smokes, and swears. His “Christ on a bike” line is rather brilliant) but there’s also some wonderful subtle humour that comes from the direction, such as the introduction of Megan Mullaly’s white supremacist character.
The first episode is an excellent introduction to the series, and I’m really, really looking forward to seeing more of it. There’s a really interesting overarcing story at play, by the looks of things – I’m trying to avoid going too deep into certain spoilers for now, because you really should watch it – and I’m quite excited to see where this is going.