“Now Apocalypse” is weird and funny and provocative and really difficult to describe.
There are two graphic sex scenes — one gay, one straight — in the first three minutes of the first episode. Another graphic straight sex scene about 3 ½ minutes after that. And there’s a rape scene — outer-space alien versus human male — before the first of 10 episodes is over.
“Now Apocalypse” got an enthusiastic reaction when it premiered. In Utah. Seriously. Of course, that was at the Sundance Film Festival, so … maybe not so surprising.
“I always say it’s about friends in Los Angeles who are looking for love on apps or Grindr or Tinder,” said Avan Jogia, who stars as Ulysses, a (mostly) gay pothead who’s at the center of the narrative. “And my character is so stoned that he thinks that there might be aliens in the dating scene. And it turns out he’s right.”
Uly’s best friend, Carly (Kelli Berglund) is an aspiring actress who’s making ends meet as an erotic cam girl, performing for online viewers. His roommate is a sweet, hot-yet-dim screenwriter, Ford (Beau Mirchoff). Ford’s girlfriend, Severine (Roxanne Mesquida), is an astrobiological theorist whose personality is “like nail-polish remover,” as Carly puts it.
And there’s a plethora of other alluring men and women — including Tyler Posey (“Teen Wolf”) as Uly’s potential boyfriend — in what amounts to a half-hour, over-the-top sex comedy filled with nudity and adult language, premiering Sunday at 7, 8:30 and 10 p.m. on Starz.
Mirchoff said “blushed” when he read the pilot script, which was “the weirdest thing I’ve ever read.”
“Now Apocalypse” is the brainchild of independent filmmaker Gregg Araki, who directed all 10 episodes. “I’d wanted to make a TV show like this for probably at least 20 years,” he said, and the show is his "imagination kind of run amok.”
It’s about a group of people “living their lives trying to figure out who they are or what’s going to happen” with a “sense of impending doom” hanging over them, he said.
Araki teamed up with Karley Sciortino, author of the sex and relationship column in Vogue, who “pulled a lot from my experiences and the people I’ve met ... to create the experience of these characters” as they wrote the episodes.
He was looking to do a “‘Sex and the City,’ ‘Girls,’ ‘Insecure’ kind of HBO R-rated sex comedy,” he said, with a “David Lynch-ian, creepy, almost supernatural aspect” that is “totally unlike any other show."
The first five episodes were screened for critics; the second five “are nuts,” according to Araki, who added that the season finale “really just goes to this insane place.”
According to Posey, the reception “Now Apocalypse” got at Sundance “was awesome. ... And Sundance is so iconic, and there’s just this sense of like creativity throughout the whole entire thing.”
The Sundance premiere was a homecoming for Araki, who first took a movie (“The Living End”) to the festival in 1992; it was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize. (And Kim Yutani, now director of programming for Sundance, worked as Araki’s assistant in her first job.)
Jogia said that after the premiere an “older gentleman” — who was “like, 55 years old, sort of like straight-laced looking dude,” came up to him and said, “‘I just wish there was a show like this when I was growing up,’ and that really touched me, and so I think it’s multigenerational.”
Araki sees “Now Apocalypse” as an antidote to the time in which we live.
“I feel we’re living in very dark, very sort of let’s-go-back-to-a-horrible age when everyone was repressed and everything was hidden and everything is a secret and everyone’s ashamed,” he said. “... I think it’s a ray of light in this dark world. Because I think now more than ever, the world needs this show.”
Well, “needs” might be a bit of an overstatement. I’m not even sure “wants” applies. But “Now Apocalypse” has its own kind of bizarre energy, and it’s filled with incredibly attractive people who are often wearing little or nothing. So it just might work for pay-cable Starz.