Now, Apocalypse 1×01 Review: “This is the Beginning of the End”

This is the Beginning of the End Now Apocalypse
Uly & Ford Have it All Figured Out… Or Do They?

It’s hard to pin down my opinion on Now, Apocalypse – veteran director Gregg Araki’s latest offering for Starz – because after “This is the Beginning of the End” I’m still at a loss as to what exactly it’s supposed to be.

Gregg Araki used to be known for psychedelic queer sci-fi that told the story of LA through drugs, sex and alien invasions. I think the problem with “This is the Beginning of the End” is if you’ve seen any of his similar work, you know exactly where it’s going. Since 1993’s Totally F****ed Up (and really the entirety of the “Teen Apocalypse Trilogy”), we’ve seen the same story being told with no growth and little to no update.

I realize that this entire project is just a re-imagining of 2010’s Kaboom with Thomas Dekker, but did they not bother to update it to the times? For goodness sake, the main character Uly (Avan Jogia) keeps a videoblog? In this media obsessed culture, there’s no way Uly wouldn’t have an IG Channel. He would demand feedback. If this was a period piece, then fine, but this is supposed to be telling the story of now and it feels so hopelessly dated. I kept wanting to bring up the IMDB errors page and look for anachronisms.

At one point in “This is the Beginning of the End”, Uly is finally on a date with the coveted Gabriel (Tyler Posey) and they’re about to kiss. When suddenly a legit truck full of dudes, in the year of our Lord 2019, somewhere in Los Angeles drives by and yells “f*gs!” while one of the guys make blowjob motions. This prompts Gabriel to take Uly to the safety of a dingy alleyway and trade rough handjobs. I literally said out loud, “When is this?!” It was so unnecessary and… was it a plot device to get them into the alley? Couldn’t they just…?

Is this what the gays are settling for to get laid? Rough hand jobs from negging dudes with greasy hair who are 45 minutes late because they can’t keep their phones charged and can’t Waze right? Demand more. Also, love that they nearly found a way for Gabriel to no-homo on a Grindr date. Inspired. “I wanna see you again so no hook-ups! Well, hand-jobs I guess, *wink*”

It’s that kind of disconnectedness that makes “This is the Beginning of the End” seem more like performance art than a slice of life. During the episode Uly is discussing potential hook-up+ Gabriel with Carly (Kelly Berglund), and she advises Uly to set his bar low (I lol’d). I feel like this was an inside plea to the viewers of this show as well. There are just too many disposable moving parts to this series to keep it engaging. It’s flashy in a way that distracts from the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of plot.

This is the Beginning of the End Now ApocalypseFor example, in “This is the Beginning of the End”, we have an entire scene where Carly and some other girl whose name and relation to Carly I’ve forgotten completely (yet I fully remember Carly’s palm tree leggings and I stan) are talking about Tindr disasters. The girl is complaining that she can’t find romance online and all guys want to do is hook-up. Carly tells her that’s just an excuse “old people” use when they can’t figure out how to use technology for sex, which… is kind of the opposite of what the girl was complaining about, but okay.

So then she proceeds to take pictures of her friend in a bikini top to make her look more sexy. To recap, her friend wants to find a connection online, not just sex, so Carly gets her more naked so she gets more guys who want to have sex with her. Which was never the problem.

Why did we need to see any of that? Ultimately that girl is never heard from again so was it just to fill time to get to Carly being a reluctant girlfriend to her actor boyfriend, Jethro (Desmond Chiam), who’s celebrating his part as a corpse on a popular show? And while they try to sell him as a yoga douche, he frankly doesn’t seem that bad (and he’s pretty beautiful). His bedroom talk in “This is the Beginning of the End” consists of wanting to worship her and she hates it for reasons that are yet to be explained.

Ultimately I have two concerns for this show: First of all, it should have been a movie. I already fear that in the 5 hours of content, there’s going to be about 3.5 hours of way too much filler. Secondly, we have an Araki problem. For Araki neophytes this outing might seem bright and shiny, but I’ve gone hard in the paint with Gregg Araki since The Living End (which I lived for).

If Now, Apocalypse is the no holds barred version of Nowhere… do we need that? Nowhere had a very specific place in the cultural zeitgeist and when it was released it did break a lot of barriers. This was the resurgence of queer media where queer cinema was starting to show sex positivity again. Will & Grace and Queer As Folk were just around the corner.

There were massive limitations, but the cinema was transitional. Before the idea of a “look”, a kiss, a subtle touch was enough. Movies like Six Degrees of Separation and My Own Private Idaho featured same sex kisses, but shrouded in the dark and clouded with consequences in the narrative. Queer audiences were getting sick of their stories ending in violence or sickness. They started asking for something more representational, sex without shame and it became media’s time to catch up.

Some writers and directors jumped on board and gave us as many queer characters and storylines as they could get past the sponsors and execs. While others tried to straddle the fence; hence the induction of “queerbaiting” or the act of setting up your characters in situations with the promise of queer content to entice and satisfy your queer and allied audience, but not actually delivering on it to pacify your sponsors and ad-base.

I’ve seen Now, Apocalypse get praise for delivering on the queer content but look at what we’re given in “This is the Beginning of the End”: An interrupted cheating sex scene, an unrequited crush, a rough handjob in an alley. Uly shares an apartment with his straight best friend Ford (Beau Mirchoff) and the first scene that we get between them literally has a vagina between them. Ford is planted inside of his girlfriend when Uly walks in early from a date and Uly laments that even though they fooled around while drunk, Ford is 100% straight (which… what? Not gonna elaborate? Ok!).Now Apocalypse

He’s completely in love with Ford and later in “This is the Beginning of the End” he gets his wish in a steamy kiss and Ford offering to take him behind the bushes and “F*ck!” but alas, it’s not real. Isn’t this just another form of queerbaiting? Sure, we got to see it, but is that enough? Casting fantasy gays to portray a relationship that can never actually be?

I’m not sure Gregg would know or that he ever took the time to find out.  I find that there’s a remarkable lack of openly LGBTQIA+ talent on the callsheet for this show. Gregg Araki was given the privilege of a new generation of acceptance and a budget to match with barely any limitations and he created a ‘90s version of a 2000’s classic with more nudity and vaping. He’s catering to the world of tomorrow, but his tomorrow was twenty years ago.

Despite all of that, there were some things I liked in “This is the Beginning of the End”! I mean, hey, if I’m going to watch ten weeks of this, I gotta find something to hold on to.

  • Severine (Roxane Mesquida): She’s a rocket scientist – excuse me, astro-biological theorist, (I guess to tie in the UFO/alien presence aspect). How she met Ford, who knows, but she does say he has world’s most magnificent cock with such a sincerity that the genuine pleasure that graces his face was easily mirrored by my own. She’s a beautiful, no-nonsense woman who doesn’t believe in monogamy and though she finds Ford to be extraordinary, doesn’t look to him to be her everything. Most of the reviews I’ve seen are taken with Carly, but I’d watch Severine all day long and I do love the non-couply couple she and Ford make.
  • Ford: Is a pure delight and Beau plays him to perfection. Just naive enough to be charming, just cocky enough to be daring, he quite literally puts it out there and doesn’t mind if you take a look at the view. While in a coffee shop downing a smoothie and typing away on his laptop (lovingly adorned with a label that says “Ask me about my screenplay”) he’s approached by a man named Barnabas Powers (played by the hilariously underrated Kevin Daniels). Ford insists that Barnabas is legit (and not just pron as Avan insists Ford checks out) and he’s very excited about the opportunity. I’m actually interested to see where this storyline ends up. Experience tells me with Ford’s penis somewhere inside Barney, but I’m willing to be surprised.
  • Jethro: He just wants to love his woman, celebrate his corpse being seen by 14M viewers, living the dream and positive thinking. And he does all that while being absolutely beautiful. I don’t ask a lot from my supporting characters, and Jethro delivers on every counts. Great comedic timing, absolute commitment and being the guy you know you should hate, but you can’t quite let go.

All in all, this isn’t a show I would suggest waiting a week in between. Let a few build up and then watch them all at once. Maybe in the background while you’re folding laundry.

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19 thoughts on “Now, Apocalypse 1×01 Review: “This is the Beginning of the End”

  1. The problem with Jehthro’s sex talk is that it’s all just talk. When he starts telling her to educate him, he completely ignores her response which included the instruction to slow down. He seemed like he was just using her as a warm hole to fuck while imagining one of his teachers from school. There was a big contrast between how he treated her and how the guys she cammed for treated her.

    I’m not sure what the person who said this had the sexiest handjob was smoking. Two fully clothed guys grunting at each other as they try to get off as quickly as possible isn’t that special.

    1. I would have liked them to delve into that a little more or for Carly to voice that or even voice that’s why she was doing the camming. Again, there was a presumptuous amount of loose threads left dangling in the hopes that we as an audience would stick around to learn more of the story without giving a lot of incentive to do so. When relaying the story to Uly she seemed more annoyed than concerned and that led to me really glossing over that she felt unheard during their intimacy, I didn’t even make the connection with the camming which was insightful. I don’t want to have to be insightful during this show! Thanks for the comment!

  2. Great review but I think you were much nicer that this show deserves. I can’t believe Starz passed on Weird City, but greenlit this show.

    1. That’s what’s kind of wild to me, even if it was a few years ago before the Black Mirror craze (which is the only reason I can assume), you have to wonder what favors got called in. Especially since this is already an already existing property and they’re basically doing a high budget remake, what’s the point? And ten episodes?! Who needed that?

  3. Ho boy this review is terrible right off the bat. I don’t know what world you live in but homophobia still exist in every part of the country. Big metropolitan cities like LA aren’t immuned from having a bunch of people yell homophobic slurs at lgbtq+ people. You want a little realism in your show and then knock a part that really is. Also,because characters are lgbtq+ doesn’t mean they have to have sex if they don’t want to. the show is about being unashamed of your sexual practices so if someone wants to “just do handjobs” because they want to maybe explore a deeper relationship that doesn’t mean they are “no-homoing” nice gross language by the way.

    We also for a fact that “openly-lgbtq+ talent” is not a concern you have,at least not across the board,when you have praised Dylan O’Brien for taking a lgbtq+ when he himself is not an open lgbtq+ actor. The bias is clear and lgbtq+ causes is not your playground to wage petty jealousies against an actor you don’t like,which is the basis for much of your interest in this show to begin with.

    1. This is the author’s first piece on this website. She has not stated her opinions on Dylan O’Brien one way or another. Check the authors of pieces before making assumptions.

      Unless you are talking about opinions she’s expressed on social media, which is completely her pejorative. But also a bit weird you’d follow her here just to talk poorly about her.

  4. Hello, I’m not sure we’ve met so I don’t know where a lot of these preconceived notions are coming from, but I do think there are a couple of misunderstandings that I’d like to clear up.

    I come from the midwest so I’m not immune to the idea of homophobia still existing. What I don’t accept is that Uly would choose a place in a neighborhood in Los Angeles to meet up with his male date where it would ever be acceptable for several men in a truck to ride around in the streets harassing random homosexuals. Again, 15 years ago, the next day Gabriel would spraypaint f*g on his Jeep in pink spraypaint and it would be a very triumphant moment, but today it doesn’t read the same. Especially when as a moment, it holds absolutely no bearing to the narrative. It’s just a thing that happens? A plot device to get them to the alley? It felt like a last minute studio note “Hey Gregg, let’s throw something in there that’s socially conscious”. Nowadays homophobia is much less blatant and rests in microantagonisms, I think we may see more of that with Ford and Barnabas and I’d rather see it there than hamfisted.

    The no-homo on a gay date thing had to do with the games Gabriel was playing with Uly. It’s classic negging and something guys do to girls constantly. It was completely separate from the talk celebrating gay sexuality. Gabriel showed up 45 minutes late and then created plans specifically so he had an out. Then conveniently “forgot to charge his phone” which somehow negated those plans (except didn’t)? Then he tells Uly he would hook up (hooking up with him is fun!), but he did a couple of weeks ago (not with you, with someone else) but it felt gross and pagan (how it might feel with you), so he doesn’t do it anymore. But he’ll make an exception, but only handjo’s!

    It’s just such a f*ckboi maneuver and totally meant to both sweep Uly off his feet and keep him in his place and that’s exactly what it does. It’s pretty amazing.

    And while I’m not sure it’s entirely relevant, I did love Dylan O’Brien in his Weird City role, he did a fantastic job, but here’s the part that you forgot to mention. That CAST of Weird City featured sexual, racial and ethnic diversity across the board. I mentioned the cast of the Now, Apocalypse seemed to feature a lack of openly lgbtqia+ actors (at least looking at the IMDB and the first ep) and it does. Weird City doesn’t have that issue so really they’re not comparable. This isn’t a Tyler Posey/Dylan O’Brien issue, this is about the project as a whole.

    Reel in the bias and we can discuss the episode, but I’m not turning this into a needless versus argument. Thank you for commenting.

    1. It’s not about Uly choosing a place where being yelled a slur would happen. It could happen anywhere and that place very well could have been an lgbtq friendly area that those men went to for the purpose of doing what they did. If anything now more than ever that is likely to happen as people of that mindset are emboldened. Yes,sometimes in storytelling things do just happen to get from one point to another and there is nothing wrong with that. Doing that scene can easily show that despite the very progressive nature of the show it still lives in a world that has outside struggles for lgbtq+ people. I would say the fact that they found a safe place and continued to show closeness and intimacy was a rebute of being shamed for who they are. Not every declaration has to be a grand gesture. Simply living as who you are and doing what you want is declaration enough. Once again, a theme of this overall show.

      You could have left it as a negging thing and maybe even made an interesting point of how it is similar behavior for both gay and straight relationships,but you made it about the character’s sexuality using language that was undermining and uncalled for. It’s clear that Gabriel’s aloofness plays a role in future eps as the character was shown to be significant to Uly before we even met him. Gabriel’s reasoning is accurate and spans many sexualities as he is shown as someone who wants to find something deeper,but is struggling because he’s a sexual person and it has caused difficulties for him so he’s trying to curb that because he feels as if Uly is special.

      As Now Apocalypse is created by an open LGBTQ individual with a storied history of telling our stories in a way Weird City does not. Points can be made that Weird City has just as much problems in that area as does Now Apocalypse. Representation does not start and end in front of the camera. And I fail to see how it’s not a Posey/O’Brien issue when you linked to an opinion piece on Posey. Both shows and Hollywood as a whole can do much better,but you praising one while trashing another is bias.

      I am discussing it with actual faults in your review and the bias that is on clear display. I have just stated ways in which your review could have been more credible,but you fell into (lols) territory by choosing snark over actual observations.

      1. We’ll agree to disagree on the first and second points, but it is important to note that one scene can foster two wildly different points of view. My views on hatred are race based rather than sex based. I still feel Gregg’s choices were over the top and stand by that assertion, but I don’t wholly disagree with what you’re saying, I just don’t think it worked for me in this context.

        And dating wise I come from the view of a woman who dates men. Where you saw vulnerability, I saw the same old tricks. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, I appreciate you presenting another angle.

        Now, first an explanation, I didn’t place that link-back so if that’s the source of your frustration, I apologize. I had nothing to do with that. It took me a minute to realize what you were ever referring to and why you brought up Dylan and Weird City at all. Secondly, I didn’t write that article.

        You mentioned that Gregg Araki has a storied history with telling queer stories in a way that Weird City does not and I don’t know what you think that means. I would be open to hearing an explanation I was very detailed with the story that Gregg has told, the same story over and over and how it’s never evolved or grown and while that may be fine for some, for me it wasn’t enough. I think this generation likes flash and sex and boobs, but for something lasting, they want more and in that vein this show under-delivers.

        1. So you’re basing your review on a show dealing with sexuality and using homophobic phrasing like “no-homo” using views on racism instead of homophobia? Something that the show clearly showed in the scene where Uly and Gabriel were victims of it? It had nothing to do with their race,but their sexuality and judging a show using criteria from something separate from the show (race) is setting up for any show to fail,not matter how good or bad it is.

          I will agree that Greg’s choices are over the type,but that’s the kind of director he is.

          And like I said as a woman making it connect to your own experiences and seeing how whether gay or straight the same issues arise would be a interesting take. I don’t disagree with you in that Gabriel is flaky and shows many habits of the kind of men who are bad for us,but we are drawn to anyway. I just didn’t appreciate the terminology and the anti-gay way “no homo” came off. It made it more about the character’s sexuality then his views on self made boundaries, which I’m sure was not your intention. It does happen even when we don’t mean it to.

          I understand about the article,but linking it to the Posey article brings a narrative into the review where had you just left it at non-lgbtq open actors as a whole.

          I do apologize in being unclear on Araki. I meant that Araki’s entire career is telling lgbtq+ stories (in varying level of success) so he lives in this world in a way that someone like Jordan Peel does not. That’s not to say Peele is wrong,but if we are talking representation we need that in front of,and behind the camera,in equal measures.

          Araki is a director that deals in the sexuality of his characters and the good and bad that comes from all sides. So yes,it’s flashy and boobs but it’s the scene like the guys riding in the truck. In Severine telling Ford about her opinions on monogamy and how constraining it is on society that makes the characters something more than just sex and drugs. It will take time to get there,but that’s what a television show does.

          Not liking is understandable,but it is a real valid way that people are living. They deal with both blatant and microaggressions level of homophobia. They feel like monogamy isn’t for them and some believe it is. Saying that in itself seems dated and unrealistic doesn’t come off as true in our world today.

          1. I loved Severine and her take on monogamy and her non-coupley coupling with Ford, on this we agree.

            And trust me, I’m intimately familiar with Gregg Araki’s work and I think the review definitely shows my knowledge on the subject matter. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but my issue is that he has very little growth and very little evolving and this show is more of the same. It’s nearly shot for shot of Ka-Boom and that’s extremely disappointing with the resources he was given.

            The thing is that we know how it is now, he has the chance to tell the story of how it could be, or even how he wants it to be. If he wants to share this world of aliens and annihilation then show it in a way that’s interesting and new, don’t just add glitter to an old title and say “Here!”. He can do better than this and ultimately that’s the problem.

            He got prettier people and better camera and lax restriction to tell us a story he wrote in 2008 and produced in 2010. Yay!

            And the end featured an alien raping a homeless man. Because that’s just gonna do great things for the gays, amerite?

            Call it fatigue, call is disenfranchisement, but I want more.

            1. Your view on Greg’s work is understandable and something I myself can agree with. I do think Now falls into the trap,but so far (just the on ep) leaves something for me to want to watch for now to see where it may go. There is definitely room for improvement,but that’s true on 99% of things I find.

              The alien thing I’m with you,it’s a cheap trick and he’s better focusing on the character rather then the shock. With that said I think where we differ is that I believe it’s there. The characters have room to grow and evolve beyond what we see now.

              I’m with you though I want more i just hope that as time goes on he can give us that and maybe with his first time doing television he can when given the chance.

              1. I’m going to keep watching and I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised. I’m glad for your optimism and passion about the project and do appreciate your views. I think we share more common ground, but it is okay to disagree sometimes and I think that can be done respectfully while acknowledging the other person’s POV. I didn’t mean no-homo in a pejorative type of way and certainly not again homosexuals. I was speaking more to overall f*ckboi pastiche and I can see how that wasn’t as clear so I do apologize for that. Thank you for your civility, Mike!

                See you mid-season!

                1. Yeah, and agreed it can be respectful even when we don’t agree. I guess certain words are just triggers and no-homo is one,especially in the context of a show like this.

                  Thank you in return for your civility. It’s rare to come by on the internet so I take it where i can get it.

                  See ya then!

          2. Sorry I meant to say I understand about the linking article and that it wasn’t your fault and I apologize for accusing you of it.

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