“Survival Is Insufficient” – Why Station Eleven Was Named Critics’ Best Sci-fi/Fantasy Series For 2022

This week we have two Showmax Originals launching on Thursday: the South African survival horror Pulse and the Afrobeats documentary series Journey of the Beats. Mandla N’s Meet Melusi, starring Mothusi Magano, has also deservedly gone straight to the top of our film charts after launching on Youth Day. Just let me know what you need to feature any of these.

Named Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series at the 2022 Critics Choice Super Awards, Station Eleven is now available to binge on Showmax. 

Based on the 2014 Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novel by Emily St. John Mandel, the HBO Max series follows the scattered survivors of a devastating global flu pandemic as they try to rebuild the world anew and hold on to the best of what’s been lost. 

Station Eleven has a 98% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Rolling Stone calling it, “beautiful, haunting, and ultimately uplifting.” 

As Kirsten Raymonde, Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate, Blade Runner 2049) was named Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series at the 2022 Critics Choice Super Awards. She stars alongside the likes of Teen Choice nominee Himesh Patel (Don’t Look Up, Yesterday), Cannes winner Gael García Bernal (Y tu mamá también, The Motorcycle Diaries), and Screen Actors Guild winner Lori Petty (Orange is the New Black, Tank Girl).

Station Eleven’s main post-apocalypse thread follows The Travelling Symphony, a troupe of nomadic actors who bring music and performances of Shakespeare’s plays to the small communities dotted around the perimeter of Lake Michigan. 

Station Eleven is a story about people trying to rebuild after they lost everything,” says creator Patrick Somerville (Maniac, The Leftovers, Made for Love). “The Travelling Symphony’s motto, ‘Survival is insufficient’, is all about asking, ‘What’s important? What do we need?’ It’s definitely more than shelter, water and food. We need art. We need humour.”

The Observer agrees. “Station Eleven is not about a pandemic, not really – it’s about the way art, community, and family endure even after the end of civilization as we know it.” 

The novel that inspired the 10-part limited series was published long before Covid-19 became a global reality. When filming began in Chicago in January 2020, no one could have known that two episodes in, the shoot would get shut down, and only begin production again a year later – this time in Toronto and with strict Covid protocols in place. For the real-life actors making Station Eleven, the parallels would bloom several layers deep as they took on the roles of actors putting on a show following a pandemic that stops the world in its tracks.

As executive producer Jessica Rhoades (Sharp Objects, The Affair) told Gold Derby: “We experienced what the entire rest of the world experienced, which was locking down, closing down, and then trying to say, ‘How do we move on? How do we rebuild? How do we figure out how to do this thing that we love so much, and makes us whole, in this new world?’ … So much of what making this show in a pandemic was about was how much community has to rebuild, how much you need other people, and how much performance and creation and artists actually are the thing that help you get through it. That’s in the show. I think the show would have always been brilliant… but somehow, every single artisan on the show, every craftsperson, every actor, everyone having the same sense memory, and then having to put their fear aside, because making the thing was actually what they needed to do, I think that seeped into the DNA of the show.” 

Station Eleven is directed by the likes of Emmy nominees Hiro Murai (Atlanta, and the Grammy-winning Childish Gambino music video This Is America), Jeremy Podeswa (Game of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale), and Helen Shaver (Snowpiercer, Vikings, Orphan Black). 

Davis also sings the praises of the set and costume design teams for doing “such a beautiful job of articulating ecstatic dedication to art, which I think is so integral to the Symphony. It’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is worth surviving for. This would feed you.’ It was really beautiful.”

Vogue hails Station Eleven as “haunting, gorgeously made, heartfelt, an end-of-the-world vision that lifts you up as much as it gives you nightmares… A dystopian series full of death and menace that threads in so much humanity and optimism that you want to be in its precarious world. I was gripped, cheered, and horrified.”

After all, as Financial Times says, “For all the horrors of the premise, you can’t help but be comforted by a series driven by the faith that humanity’s creativity and kinship will always endure.”

Watch Station Eleven on Showmax: https://www.showmax.com/eng/tvseries/a35ek0wt-station-eleven 

By Andrew Germishuys

Founder of SAMDB, Andrew has worked full time in the film industry since the early 2000's. He has trained as an actor, completing his LAMDA Gold Medal, and attending many courses in Cape Town acting studios, with masterclasses with some of the international industries top directors, producers and filmmakers. Working as an actor and armourer in the film and television industry have given Andrew a great balance of skills across the board when it comes to the entertainment industry. Catch him on Twitter: twitter.com/andrewgerm_za Instagram: instagram.com/andrewgerm_za IMDb: www.imdb.com/name/nm5390453/

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