One of the landmarks of ABC’s Lost is its ability to play with chronology and storytelling. Instead of starting at the beginning, where we meet Jack and Kate and the gang before they knew each other, we start in the middle, where their story really begins on the island. NBC’s You, Me & the Apocalypse doesn’t play by this strategy. The comet that’s supposed to destroy the world and unite a ragtag group of people doesn’t appear until 30 minutes into the hour-long premiere. The mystery here isn’t how these people are going to survive, but how they got to be the final people on earth.
But the problem isn’t that their stories aren’t necessarily interesting: It’s the pacing. The first episode flips back and forth between three sets of stories: There’s the wrongfully-imprisoned librarian Rhonda (Jenna Fischer) and white supremacist Leanne (Megan Mullally); Jamie Winton (Mathew Bayton) who may or may not have a twin masquerading with his long-lost wife; and Sister Celine (Gaia Scodellaro) who goes to work with Father Jude (Rob Lowe) at The Vatican. There’s a way to pack these three stories into a compelling hour-long dramedy, but this pilot doesn’t succeed with it. Despite being about impending end-of-the-world doom, there’s no real sense of urgency.
It’s interesting that NBC passed on another “bunker” comedy (*cough cough* Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) when You, Me & the Apocalypse seems less suited for network audiences at 8 p.m. on a Thursday. At one point, Leanne tells Rhonda that the way to survive prison is to get pregnant—no one will touch her. She tells her she can get some semen for her. For as funny as some lines are, this show is also pretty dark.
This show originally debuted on Sky 1 for audiences in the United Kingdom in September 2015. Clearly, NBC picked it up based on the success of Fox’s Last Man on Earth, another post-apocalyptic comedy. But LMoE finds success in its nothingness and reckless abandon (well, in the first season, at least). Juxtaposed next to LMoE, You, Me & the Apocalypse suffers from too much plot instead of enjoying the comedy of the situation (which LMOE clearly lavishes in).
While the Peacock network touts the show as a “bold adrenaline-fueled hour-long comedic drama” on its website, you can rest assured there’s no need to have your blood pressure checked after the pilot episode.
NBC’s You, Me, and the Apocalypse premieres Thursday, January 28, at 8pm ET. Check local listings.