Everyone Loves Apocalyptic Stories

The Apocalypse is Always Popular

Take a look at the program schedules of all the major streaming services. There are an awful of apocalyptic shows these days. While stories about a dystopian future have always been a sub-genre of the sci-fi world, the shows now span several genres. 

From the comedy of Zombieland, to the innocent charm of Sweet Tooth, to the hopeful, bohemian tone of Station Eleven, the apocalyptic story has branched out and now explores multiple avenues and storylines. 

Recently, the latest can’t-miss apocalyptic story has been released on HBO. Called the Last of Us, the storyline is based on a 2013 video game that was highly successful and provides a guaranteed audience for the HBO series

The two main characters are Joel, played by Pedro Pascal, and Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey. Joel has the job of smuggling the 14-year-old Ellie out of the quarantine zone she’s in and across the US to a development lab (Characters in apocalypse movies ALWAYS seem to be homeless and traveling). Ellie is immune to the virus ravaging the planet and may be the key to developing a vaccine that will save humanity.  

Walter Mitty Effect

Watching the pilot episode for this show, I started wondering why this genre is so popular nowadays. You would think that by recently coming through a real-life pandemic, audiences would have had enough of stories about viruses. 

Then I realized that for most of us, the pandemic mainly consisted of staring at the four walls of our homes during the seemingly endless lockdowns and quarantines. There was no adventure to it for many people (thankfully). 

James Thurber wrote a famous book entitled The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Walter Mitty was a meek and mild character who lived a ho-hum existence on the outside, but his mind transformed his daily non-events into daring adventures that made his life richer and fuller.

By watching these apocalyptic stories, I think we’re simply imagining ourselves as characters in an alternate pandemic. We’re all Walter Mitty in a pandemic that’s more dramatic, colorful and interesting than simply staring at the four walls of our perfectly safe homes.