The Delirium Pilot Introduces A Loveless, High-Concept World Worth Exploring

By Nick Venable | 7 years ago

deliriumThink about the last movie you watched. Was it a romantic comedy? Or was the last TV show you saw about a loving married couple? Maybe the last song you listened to was a long song. These questions definitely aren’t relevant within the world of Delirium, the TV adaptation of Lauren Oliver’s popular 2011 young adult novel. The pilot introduces you to a society where love is thought of as a deadly disease, deliria nervosa, and it has largely been eradicated. But this is a pilot that needs people to love it, or a pilot is all it will ever be.

Delirium started life with Fox, who passed on it last month. While that might have been a deathblow in the past, Hulu stepped in and agreed to host the pilot for anyone to watch, and a big enough audience will presumably give them the confidence to pick up a full season. Whether they would keep the same number of episodes is unknown, and not worth talking about before we see how it does. You can find and watch the episode HERE, but should you?

Emma Roberts (We’re the Millers) plays Lena Holloway, your average fun-loving girl who is awaiting her “mate match” prior to getting the injection that removes her ability to love. Where a loftier creative team might go into the psychological ramifications of such a life-changing procedure, Lena and her friend Hana (Jeanine Mason, Bunheads) talk about boys and going to parties. (They’re illegal parties, but still…) She lives with her sister Rachel (Erin Cahill) and her non-love mate Liam (Ian Anthony Dale). The sisters’ respective childhoods were wrecked by the death of their father and the subsequent suicide of their mother. They mostly see eye to eye…

delirium…until Alex (Daren Kagasoff) comes along, that is. He’s a cop who takes an unusual interest in Lena. At first she accommodates his interest, but gradually finds herself falling for him over time. As you can imagine, Alex isn’t who he says he is, and his secrets could affect the rest of Lena’s life.

Delirium isn’t just about two would-be lovebirds. Billy Campbell (Helix) plays Thomas Fineman, a cocksure politician-type with Deliria Free America (DFA), a group responsible for the purging of America’s recreational activities, and removing all love from fiction and music. I can’t imagine the paintings that went to waste. Campbell has quite a collection of art that young people are forbidden to experience, so of course his son Julian (Gregg Sulkin) finds them, and pays the price for his curiosity. Fineman’s life is made more hectic by the presence of a DFA resistance group that gets bigger and bigger as they gather more support. Can you see where this is going?

Though the first 20 minutes of this show feel made-for-CW, I found myself getting pulled in as it went along, and was legitimately shocked (in a small way) by the pilot’s reveal. I should have seen it coming from a mile away, yet I wasn’t led to think that show had actual mysteries. By the end, once shit gets real, I felt actual disappointment knowing that there isn’t a second episode to wait for after Hulu’s short advertisement.

This isn’t genius material, and the repeated use of a particular T.S. Eliot quote smacks of novice plotting, but there’s a good hook here. I still haven’t washed Roberts’ tacky performances in American Horror Story: Coven out of my mouth, so I can’t really say whether I enjoyed her or not, but everyone else is playing up to par for this brand of show. Delirium isn’t overwhelming after one episode, but I have a sneaking suspicion there are more surprises hidden down the line. If, in fact, that line is ever drawn for us. Check out the preview below.

Karyn Usher (Prison Break) adapted Delirium for the screen, Rodrigo Garcia (In Treatment) directed the pilot, and Katherine Pope (Terra Nova) and Peter Chernin (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) executive produced. Watch it and let people know how delirious you are about this show.