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Emily St John Mandel's evocative post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven earned plenty of plaudits when it debuted back in 2014. But seven years later, Mandel's depiction of a world ravaged by a devastating pandemic—and the role of culture in the aftermath—feels especially haunting. Much like the movie Contagion, which had a resurgence during the early days of the pandemic, Station Eleven depicts a disease far more universally deadly than COVID-19, but nonetheless offers plenty of parallels to the nightmare we've all lived through over the past 20 months.
Described as "a post apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines," the ten-episode series "tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what's been lost."
Here's a few key things to know about HBO Max's upcoming adaptation of Station Eleven.
It will premiere on December 16.
Station Eleven was originally announced back in 2019, and was about a fifth of the way into production when the real-life pandemic hit. The release date has now been confirmed as December 16, 2021.
"The themes of the show were becoming so resonant as we’re going forward, it really made us think so much about what’s important in life, which is really what the show’s about," executive producer Jeremy Podeswa told journalists at the Television Critics Association’s virtual Summer Press Tour. "What matters is other people, the people in your life you care about, your health, and also making art, which is what we’re all doing with this show. That really gave us a great sense of purpose in a really difficult time."
The first trailer is available now.
HBO Max released a teaser trailer for Station Eleven in early November, and it's just as stress-inducing as you'd expect.
Mackenzie Davis leads the ensemble cast.
The series, just like the novel, will jump back and forth through time and between characters, charting the gradual collapse of society in the past, and the lives of a handful of survivors in the present. Davis will play Kirsten, a former child actor who was only eight when the Georgia Flu destroyed the world. Years later, she's part of a nomadic troupe of Shakespeare actors, who travel the largely-deserted Great Lakes region putting on performances. She harbors a lingering obsession with an actor named Arthur Leander, whose onstage death she witnessed on the night the pandemic began. The role of Leander will be played by Gael Garcia Bernal.
Other key roles include Yesterday star Himesh Patel as Jeevan, Danielle Deadwyler as Miranda, and David Wilmot as Clark. Per Deadline, the full cast also includes Nabhaan Rizwan, Philippine Velge, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Daniel Zovatto, and Lori Petty.
Patrick Somerville serves as showrunner.
Somerville is best known for creating Maniac, a surreal 2018 Netflix dramedy which starred Emma Stone and Jonah Hill as participants in a trippy pharmaceutical trial. He adapted Mandel's novel for the small screen, while Hiro Murai will direct and executive produce. Murai directed Childish Gambino's 2018 music video for "This Is America," and has also helmed episodes of Atlanta and Barry.
Fans of the book should prepare themselves for some major changes. At the TCA panel, Somerville called the show "a very aggressive adaptation of a very beautiful book that I love," adding that he and Mandel had discussed the adaptation at length. "The spirit of that book to me was always about what’s gentle and human inside of us before and after, and how do we get back to the people that we love? And how is that hard? Emily’s voice as a novelist is impressive for what it does to knit things together. We needed to make our stories a little different to get that back."
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