Extrapolations review: Is Kit Harington's new show worth a watch?
Extrapolations episode 1-3 spoilers below
With its star studded cast, Extrapolations hopes to drag the audience to the viewing chair and secure their interest. After all, who could resist showing up for Meryl Streep, Kit Harington and David Schwimmer (to name a few)?
The premise, however, is a stickier sell.
In short, Extrapolations hopes to sustain our attention as it explores a not-too-distant future in which the world buckles and groans under the pressure of climate change.
It’s a steep challenge. Even with Streep taking up a secondary role as the voice of Earth’s last remaining whale. (It’s a trippy kind of tragic as she searches for a mate that doesn’t exist).
The issue of climate change may be at the sharp end of our global concerns but there’s the question of digestibility. Can the show relate to us in a captivating way without stepping into preaching territory?
In that regard, Extrapolations achieves.
With the exception of a few recurring characters, The Apple TV+ show follows different characters across the decades as they battle with literal disaster, the result of melting ice-caps, a warming Earth and polluted air. Just the highlights of a world in a climatic crisis.
Harington’s tech billionaire Nicholas Bilton is riding the coattails of the fear and destruction climate change leaves in its wake. He appears to have fingers in all the pies and a healthy amount of influence over the direction of climate-change efforts thanks to his company Alpha holding all of the cards.
Despite the general discourse around this show, this is perhaps one of its strengths.
The link between episodes may appear tenuous at first glance but once you embrace the anthology style you begin to wonder whether the lack of connectivity is supposed to reflect the realities of climate change: a growing, burgeoning monster that will affect everyone across the globe in different ways.
Perhaps, then, it is a good thing that we get to experience these separate stories.
Instead of seeing how climate change affects just one group of people, we are able to consider what life could look like for many, and consider how different mindsets will interact with our changing world in unique ways.
It is enough for the weight of climate change to be the linking factor, the heavy presence throughout, but our response to it will manifest differently due to our own lived experience.
It shows up as the compassion for whales, the questioning of our moral worth and attitudes, some striving for innovative solutions whilst others manipulate suffering for their own greed. There will always be the self-interested looking for ways to profit off others’ misfortune, even when that misfortune is breathing down their own neck.
However where Extrapolations lets itself down is in the absence of emotional connection to its characters.
Admittedly this is more easily achieved when following one linear story in which there is time to build and develop a deep audience-character relationship.
Extrapolations uses up each 60-minute episode driving the grandiose plot forward and forgets that we need to care for our characters. Consequently we are unable to fully appreciate the emotional beats, so the stakes were nonexistent.
Rebecca Shearer (Sienna Miller) coping with the loss of her husband and mother while fearing for her son’s health should have felt more like a punch than a sting.
Harris Goldblatt (David Schwimmer)’s daughter Alana (Neska Rose) railing against her corrupt father and struggling with morality, all the while missing her absent mother is a cocktail of grief. We should have felt strangled by her emotions and yet there they sit, at the surface of the rising flood. They are not the tide that crashes, they are the residue.
As a result there are all these supposedly tense things happening with no real tension.
That said, because we are humans and not monsters, we can still be empathetic towards suffering. Maybe not as deeply as we would have liked but enough to provoke thought, to get us to take stock of climate change, to give us room to reflect.
The world feels real enough with wellies in synagogues to wade through the flood water, daytime curfews to avoid sunshine and the latest climate change-related medical condition ‘summer heart’.
It also helps that the glossy special effects are like a rich, almost cinematic treat. Yes it feels very real, even if the people are a little 2D.
The first three episodes of Extrapolations are available to stream on Apple TV+ now with episodes airing weekly.
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