By Abigail Gelopulos, Ball State University
Evie Covington, the main character of the Warner Bros. apocalyptic television show No Tomorrow, is a nervous perfectionist who lacks the confidence necessary to implement changes in her life that would make her feel more on track to who she wants to be. Xavier Holliday, her male counterpart, is introduced as her crush from the Farmers’ Market. As their relationship progresses, Xavier inspires in Evie the necessary confidence for her to go after what she wants in life. The changes Evie makes to her own life inspire those around her to start changing their lives as well. The direction this story takes deviates drastically from the traditional apocalyptic storyline because it encourages engagement with a flawed society in an attempt to fix it rather than forsaking the current society and starting over because it’s flawed.
When they meet, Xavier makes the offhand comment, “I’ve gotta live life while I can” (“Pilot” 00:08:23-00:08:28), which then leads to his overwhelming explanation of the asteroid 2000 WX 354 and its trajectory toward Earth. He finishes by explaining to Evie that “humankind only has twelve days and eight months left on earth” (“Pilot” 00:08:37-00:08:38). His reaction to the impending apocalypse is to try to live life as limitlessly and fearlessly as possible— and to encourage others to do the same before it’s too late. He explains that he has an “Apocalyst” (“Pilot” 00:11:54) where he has written down “every fantasy [he’s] ever had. Every regret [he wants] to fix, every wrong [he wants] to right. Every last thing [he wants] to do before things go kaput” (“Pilot” 00:11:59-00:12:09). He inspires and encourages Evie to make a similar list, and they spend the majority of the show crossing items off their lists.
Xavier’s and Evie’s reactions to the idea of the apocalypse are very different. Xavier reacts by using it as an excuse to no longer contribute to society saying, “We’re all liberated! No more flossing, no more separating whites and colors. I’m racking up parking tickets and they’re never gonna get paid. It’s great—I’m living life exactly on my own terms” (“Pilot” 00:10:51-00:11:03). Xavier evolves as a character when he eventually stops using the apocalypse to avoid life’s ugly realities and tries instead to stop the asteroid because he wants a future with Evie.
Evie’s initial reaction was to think that Xavier was crazy, but she begins to believe that “[his] way of life is positive and contagious” (“No Doubt” 00:39:52-00:39:57). The influence that Xavier’s Apocalyst mentality has on her shows when she tells him, “I’m in the best place of my life. I got my own dream job. I went after exactly what I wanted, and I got it” (“No Sleep Till Reykjavik” 00:30:36-00:30:46). She goes on to say, “because of you, I took risks I never would’ve taken, I quit my job, and I learned to carpe the fig out of my diem” (“No Sleep Till Reykjavik” 00:35:04-00:35:13).
This “seize the day” message is meant to inspire the audience to change their own lives as well. When Evie gave Xavier the opportunity to spread his theory to the public, he chose to make the apocalypse hypothetical instead by asking “what if you gave yourself permission to seize the day?” (“No Truer Words” 00:33:41-00:33:45) because he realized that it was more important for people to change their lives than it was to prove that the world was going to end.
At this point, his intention is still to just let people know so they can “change their lives” (“No Doubt” 00:07:22-00:07:25), meaning that they can live outside societal expectations as well. By the end of the show, Xavier has gone from a social reject to realizing that he wants to have a future with Evie, and, to do that, he needs to work with the government to find a solution to the impending apocalypse. He starts as being a parasite that only engages with society to get what he wants out of it—like maxing-out credit cards and travelling— and encouraging others to do the same. He grows to be a member of an elite governmental task-force put together to save the world. Xavier sparks the change in Evie, but she makes that change her own and influences those around her to follow her example.
If more people followed their dreams in the way that Evie does—in order to help society rather than hinder it—then the possibilities for social improvement would widen indefinitely. In his book After the End, James Berger argues that “apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic representations…put forward a total critique of any existing social order” (Berger 7). In No Tomorrow the critiquing character is Xavier, who completely rejects the social order. This show deviates from the traditional portrayal of an apocalyptic story because Xavier evolves into a character that embraces social order. He begins to reintegrate with society, through Evie’s example, and by the end of the show, he is working with the government. In her article “Choosing Fear or Freedom: Apocalyptic Thinking as a Danger and an Invitation for Christians,” Mary Steinmetz argues that the traditional apocalypse “leads to a dead-end of alienation, separation, violence, and hopelessness” (Steinmetz 9). Apocalypse stories have a tendency to steer the audience in a direction that isolates them from society, most often because the societies they depict are fundamentally flawed. No Tomorrow doesn’t argue that contemporary American/Western society isn’t flawed. Instead, it argues—through the portrayal of Evie’s approach to the apocalypse—that society should be fixed, not abandoned. The show’s portrayal of Evie’s actions as superior to Xavier’s gives the message to the audience to fix what’s broken in society rather than abandon it—which is not a common message for an apocalyptic storyline. Deviating from the traditional apocalyptic narrative puts an uplifting new spin on a downtrodden old narrative—counteracting the societal disengagement that Berger and Steinmetz argue is intrinsic to apocalyptic narratives.
Berger, James. After the End: Representations of Post-Apocalypse. University of Minnesota
No Tomorrow, Warner Bros. Television, 4 Oct. 2016.
Steinmetz, Mary. “Choosing Fear or Freedom: Apocalyptic Thinking as a Danger and an
Invitation for Christians.” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, vol. 45, no. 4, Fall2010, pp. 591-603