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Here And Now - Advance Preview: Your New Favorite Mindf*ck



"Here and now, nothing else exists."


"From Oscar and Emmy winner Alan Ball, and starring Oscar and Golden Globe winner Tim Robbins and Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe winner Holly Hunter, the show is a provocative and darkly comic meditation on the disparate forces polarizing present-day American culture, as experienced by the members of a progressive multi-ethnic family – a philosophy professor and his wife, their adopted children from Vietnam, Liberia and Colombia, and their sole biological child – and a contemporary Muslim family, headed by a psychiatrist who is treating one of their children."

Now, that synopsis is a bit confusing, not inaccurate, but it doesn't really tell you what you need to know, and yet it tells you way too much. This show is better absorbed without a lot of previous knowledge. To me, it would've been amazing to leave some suspense on the label, but companies need branding and some people need clarification about what they're going to see, which is understandable given the variety that is available to us. But still, sometimes it takes away some of the magic from the experience. It would've been amazing to let the show make me doubt, on whether what was happening was supernatural or a mental health issue, but the first thing you will probably read about this is literally "supernatural drama from Alan Ball", so I guess that part is off the question.

Here and Now lets you know right away it will be a gorgeous looking show, and with some awesome music, which doesn't really surprise me, since this show comes from Alan Ball and HBO, neither does the supernatural mindfuck factor. And to address that, this my kind of supernatural, it's interlaced with daily life, they don't beat you over the head with it, but they make you wonder, and there's nothing cheap about it. It begins with a dream sequence that throws you off a bit but will be related to everything that will be coming next. There's a foreign woman on the beach, speaking in a language he doesn't understand, since the supernatural is confirmed, my guess from what I've seen and the fact that both the opening song and the closing song have the word ghost in it, is that it might have something to do with spirits, ala Ghost Whisper but a lot more subtle, and though I loved that show, the quality on this one is up there with the best TV shows out there, I mean "HBO", right?

The parents of the Bayer-Boatwright family are and ex-shrink, Audrey (Holly Hunter - Saving Grace, Top of the Lake) who likes to control everything and everyone (and also diagnose them), and Gregory (Tim Robbins - The Shawshank Redemption, Mystic River) who's a philosophy professor in some kind of mid-life crises, he's depressed, begging for attention in the most public ways, but still completely ignored by everyone. They both pride themselves on being progressive people, trying to change the world and trying out an experiment (yes, they literally called it that), creating a family by adopting kids from "places America totally fucked", Ramon (Daniel Zovatto - Fear the Walking Dead, Revenge) is from Colombia, Duc (Raymond Lee - Mozart in the Jungle), and Ashley (Jerrika Hinton - Grey's Anatomy) is from Liberia. Of course, being smart people, as they all are, they felt like advertisements for how "evolved" their parents are (and I think they kinds have a point there) and they have a very dark humor about it all, they bicker like brothers and sisters but they also have a tendency to be disrespectful to each other's places of birth.

Ramon is the first character we're introduced to, since he's the one having the initial dream. He's a computer programmer and one of the youngest in the family that will be the center of this whole thing. One of the sweetest things about his story is his blooming relationship with a barista named Henry (Andy Bean - Power). As for the rest of the siblings, there's Duc (pronounced as Duke and not duck by the way) is a "Motivational Architect", which would be some sort of life coach who's mainly full of shit, which can't be a surprise, Ashley (though her original name was a very african one, and I say it like that because I'm sure I would't get the spelling right, until she decided to change it for the whitest name she could think of) owns a retail site and is my favorite kind of boss bitch, and last but not least, Kristen (Sosie Bacon - 13 Reasons Why) who is the parents' only biological child, and therefore, has an issue with being the most "boring" one in the family, which brings her to do a lot of stupid stuff.

I have to say, every single cast member is so damn charming, I could watch them all day doing the most mundane stuff. And there is mundane stuff, but not a single minute feels wasted. There's also a lot of political commentary here, Alan Ball even admitted he was working with the writers when Trump was elected president of the US so they did their best to be current, though it is kinda hard with how fast things evolve (or devolve). This does not mean that they beat you over the head with liberal discourse, on every side there are at least two possible interpretations, and even if sometimes shortly, they always seem to try and show a lot of them, they portray issues without always getting to a conclusion about who's right and who isn't.

So, if you're still not sold I can make some comparisons for you, some of the family aspects have similarities with This Is Us, the supernatural angle reminds me of the little I've seen of Sense 8, and intertwined in a way that reminds me of The Leftovers, because even though it's there, it's subtle, and most of it is about how people deal with things. This is not a normal show, a lazy viewer will probably have a lot of issues with it, because it doesn't serve every little piece of information on a platter, much like The Leftovers, there's a lot of mystery to the little details here, and you learn key information about the characters here and there throughout the first couple of episodes without much fuzz, meaning, you might miss it if you're not paying attention. Now, this might perfectly not be your cup of tea, nothing is for everyone, but one thing I can say with certainty is that this is damn good TV.

I don’t have all the answers
I don’t pretend to know


Catch the premiere of Here and Now on Sunday, February 11th at 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. Are you excited about this one? Let me know in the comments.


 
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