At first, Station Eleven irritated me. After three episodes, I’d fallen asleep not once, but twice. I wasn’t just frustrated with Station Eleven’s self indulgence – I was completely bored.
A post-apocalyptic HBO Max miniseries set in the immediate aftermath of a deadly and highly contagious flu, Station Eleven is a show about a fictional pandemic – shot, produced and released during an actual pandemic. But in many ways that pandemic is subservient and unimportant. Station Eleven is a show about things. About big ideas and themes. It’s a show about survival. About trauma. About taking refuge in the transitive power of art and the connective tissue of our shared humanity.
From the outset, this is a show that spells out grand ambitions in clear terms. This is a show that opens with King Lear. A show that makes flagrant use of Shakespeare as a narrative and framing device, but also has the gall to place itself at the center of a grand literary canon.
Once again: urgh. The biggest urgh I can muster.
Three episodes deep I jumped into one of CNET’s many Slack channels to unload on the show with my co-workers. It was self-indulgent. It was boring. It took itself way too seriously. It was high on its own supply. It was fundamentally flawed in comparison with a show like, say, Yellowjackets – which masked its own themes of trauma under the guise of a cunning and compelling mystery box show.
“Station Eleven sucks.” I thi