Avoid HBO Max fees: Watch ‘Station Eleven’ online now
Do we really need a faux-pandemic on screen right now? The HBO series Station Eleven recently premiered on the streaming service HBO Max. This miniseries, based on the book of the same name, has been getting buzz for quite a while now, and we’ve really been looking forward to it.
So what is this new apocalyptic show all about? And is it what we need to be seeing right now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic? Let’s discuss and find out.
Station Eleven: A brief history
Station Eleven started as a 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel, a Canadian who now resides in New York City. She had already written three other books before Station Eleven, but that book was her smash hit, gaining critical acclaim & multiple awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award in 2015.
The novel follows a group of Shakespearian actors in the wake of a pandemic called the “Georgia Flu” that proceeds to wipe out most of humanity. We follow these characters before & after the event and see how they live in such a widespread crisis.
The same year it won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Station Eleven was acquired by Scott Steindorff to be adapted for television or cinema. The project sat dormant for several years until we got more news in 2019 when Station Eleven was ordered by HBO Max as a series.
Patrick Somerville was brought on board as Station Eleven’s creator & showrunner. He had been a novelist turned television writer for quite a few years, and ran the Netflix series Maniac before doing Station Eleven for HBO. Included in Station Eleven’s HBO cast is Gael García Bernal, Caitlin FitzGerald, and Kate Moyer, among many others.
The show premiered on December 16th, 2021. What do people think of this series, and should you watch it?
Station Eleven’s reception
When Station Eleven came out on HBO Max, critics praised it. Writing for Vox, Emily VanDerWerff said that, “Station Eleven made me want to live in the post-apocalypse,” and concluded by writing, “At the end of the year, in the cold & the darkness & melancholy, we come together to make things a little warmer, a little brighter, a little more joyful. So why wouldn’t we do that at the end of the world, too?”
In Rolling Stone, Alan Sepinwall noted, “The timing of HBO Max’s Station Eleven is either unfortunate or spectacular, depending how you look at it,” writing positively about how “watching it just might make you feel good.” Lauren Puckett-Pope asks the question, “Should I Watch The Pandemic Show. . . During A Pandemic?” in her article for Elle, and concluded by saying, “There is absolutely no better time to watch this onscreen pandemic play out than right now, in the midst of our own.”
You get the picture. Despite the awkward premise, it paints with a positive brush, shows a melancholy story with the glass more half full than half empty. That’s how the majority of critics see it. But how has the author been taking the fact that her fiction became reality, and that a show on it is coming out during that pandemic?
About Emily St. John Mandel
In an article for Esquire, Adrienne Westenfeld proclaimed to the world, “Emily St. John Mandel Is Nobody’s Prophet.” In this piece, Westenfeld discusses Mandel’s response to viewers after Station Eleven bled into reality: in the author’s own words, she is “profoundly uncomfortable” with that fact, and was originally resistant of being questioned as an expert of the subject, but later “surrendered” to that call.
Westenfeld goes over Mandel’s fame, stating that, “Station Eleven catapulted Mandel from a midlist writer with a day job to a full-fledged literary superstar,” pointing out that, “[With the Station Eleven HBO Max series on its way] no doubt Mandel’s supposed clairvoyance will again be called into question, though she believes that argument doesn’t hold water.”
Like most creators, she talks about struggling with writer’s block during the pandemic – but then, inspiration struck. And so, she decided to do a book on her current situation, a fictional story of how a famous author of a pandemic novel was uplifted by others, turned back to when the on-screen adaptation came and called a prophet. Oh, and it’s the future. Excellent.
With the Station Eleven HBO Max series, it’ll be tempting to turn to Mandel as someone who might understand the pandemic. But authors are not your friends because you see them on social media, and writers aren’t experts because of a fictional universe they created. So if you’re tempted to ask Mandel for advice, don’t. She didn’t ask to be put on a pedestal, and the least we can do is treat her like a human being.
Where can we watch Station Eleven online?
As of right now, Station Eleven is an HBO Max exclusive series, only available to stream on that platform, and possibly coming to Paramount+ as well. But that could change in the future.
Earlier this year, TBS & TNT started a service called Front Row, which is a way to bring HBO Max originals to cable television. Shows like The Flight Attendant aired there, and if it continues to thrive, we’re sure other shows will be brought on too. So look forward to seeing if Station Eleven hits cable.
When we look at Station Eleven, we can’t help but remember Amazon’s version of Utopia. When that was released, it was panned by critics, a series about a pandemic & conspiracy theorists during a time when COVID-19 & QAnon were thriving. Station Eleven has a similar problem, but unlike the grim-dark view that Utopia has of the world, Station Eleven looks forward to the future instead of fearing it. Hallelujah.
What are your thoughts on Station Eleven? Are you excited about the HBO Max series? Let us know!