If you thought a story about a flu strain wiping out the better part of humanity was put into production because of recent events going on in the world, it would make total sense. But that isn’t the case with Station Eleven, the novel by Emily St. John Mandel published all the back in 2014 (a simpler time). The book has been optioned as a miniseries coming to HBO Max and it is slated to hit screens sooner than later, maybe even in the midst of an even (gulp) bigger outbreak. So while the timing is conspicuous, it’s also merely coincidental.
Let’s take a look at what HBO’s Station Eleven adaptation holds in store while also holding out hope it doesn’t actually become true.
The Story Of Station Eleven
Station Eleven, the novel, plays out in a few different timelines. Told in a triptych, its story takes place a decade or so before the initial outbreak of a swine flu strain which wipes out most of human existence, an arc directly during and right after the actual outbreak and finally a hard look 20 years into the rather dystopian future. The characters in each part of the timeline do overlap in ways that become clear over the course of the narrative.
Because this HBO Station Eleven is a miniseries, I’m assuming we see all three parts potentially told quite separately from each other considering their associations are somewhat loose, though ultimately very important.
The “future” part of the story involves a group of traveling actors and actresses who roam across the now, very different, United States (where it’s barely safe to roam around) performing Shakespearean plays to the leftover communities still in existence. Mandel paints the picture of a rather desolate and bleak state of affairs which I’m sure we’ll see played out on the small screen.
The “present” tense focuses on two sets of survivors, one a plane full of passengers who’ve been spared exposure to the virus and another small group in Toronto who are waiting out the worst of things.
And the “past” deals parts of the stories that will ultimately link the characters together.
In all, Station Eleven is a sweeping story that’s able to link together world-altering events through the scope of just a few key characters. Again, it’s a fantastic novel and should make a fantastic show for HBO.
Patrick Somerville will act as executive producer and showrunner for HBO’s Station Eleven. His past work includes creating and writing on Netflix’s Maniac, the award-winning show psychotropic show starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill.
Though perhaps more in line with Station Eleven, he also served as a writer on HBO’s The Leftovers, another post-apocalyptic, novel-adaption that saw 2% of the world’s population just up and vanish. Sure, it wasn’t the vast majority of the human population dying like this latest, but at least he’s gotten a start in how to write for a world that’s missing a bunch of people.
Hiro Murai is currently credited with directing all ten of Station Eleven’s episodes. His previous work includes HBO’s Barry and FX’s Atlanta, both award-winning shows in their own right.
There’s a lot to be excited about with this creative team for a show that appears to be in good hands.
Station Eleven’s Cast
MacKenzie Davis, probably best known for her turn as Cameron Howe on AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire and more recently in Terminator: Dark Fate will play Kirsten, the main character in Station Eleven’s post-apocalyptic timeline on HBO.
Meanwhile, Himesh Patel who crooned out Beatles covers in Yesterday, will play Jeevan, a dude we meet when s@#$ is really hitting the fan worldwide.
Gail Garcia Bernal, known for Mozart in the Jungle and many other movies, has been cast as Arthur in HBO’s Station Eleven. He’ll appear primarily in the “past” timeline.
And finally, relative newcomer Danielle Deadwyler (HBO’s Watchmen)will play Miranda, Arthur’s ex-wife and key component in why Station Eleven has this particular title.
When Station Eleven Debuts On HBO Max
There’s no official release date on Station Eleven, but part of that is because its platform, HBO Max, hasn’t even been released itself. HBO Max, not to be confused with HBO Now or HBO Go, will launch in May 2020. The new streaming service will include all of HBO’s content, but also will expand well beyond that considering it’s actually owned by WarnerMedia.
Filming recently began for Station Eleven and seeing as how HBO’s particular programming schedule style has been weekly episodes rather than just full-season releases a la Netflix, there’s some reason to believe the show could start on the streaming service at initial launch even if the entire production hadn’t wrapped by then. That’s merely speculation, but somewhat in line with current programming schedules.
So yes, you do still have time to pick up read the novel before the show hits screens. It’s worth it and likely only adds to the viewing experience.