The first season of the Starz series Now Apocalypse has encompassed a lot. There have been aliens assaulting humans, body parts galore, and so much neon. Yet in a weird way, it all works. And while we can thank the show's visionary creator Gregg Araki for that, the show’s incredible cast also deserves praise. The aesthetic is what draws us in, but it’s the characters who keep us coming back.
On the surface, the characters in Now Apocalypse are very much what we've come to expect from Millennial/Gen Z culture, but instead of making them a joke, Araki and his cast have made them real people who also just happen to have been born in the late '90s. While Carly, Uly, Ford, and Severine may not be the most likable characters, you can’t help but respect them. They’re as human as they can possibly be, and as a Gen Z-er myself, it’s pretty damn cool to see characters who aren’t just an annoying stereotype.
Each of the four main characters embodies a specific trait that's closely associated with Millennial/Gen Z culture and sexuality:
Carly (Kelli Berglund) represents sex positivity. As a struggling actress who also works as a cam-girl to pay the rent, Carly has got all the confidence in the world. She knows she’s got it, so she flaunts it. And while her boyfriend Jethro (Desmond Chaim) doesn’t seem to love the idea of it all, Carly’s sexuality is what drives her character development the most. She didn’t fall into sex work out of desperation. She made the choice to do it and enjoys it. Carly is a strong woman and embracing this side of her makes her realize how strong and capable she really is.
Ulysses, aka Uly, (Avan Jogia) embodies fluidity. Whether it be his sexuality or just the way he dresses, Uly never sticks to one set ideal. He identifies for most of the season as gay, but in episode 5 he finds himself attracted to Leesha (Cleopatra Coleman) and sleeps with her. Yes, he could be considered bi or pan, but with Uly, it’s not about labels. It’s about doing what feels right for him and makes him happy.
Ford (Beau Mirchoff) represents the end of toxic masculinity. On the outside, he is straight, macho, and strong but at the same time he's a hopeless romantic. He’s head over heels for Severine, and can’t stand the thought of losing her. Not your typical straight guy character, he isn’t afraid to talk about his feelings or even shed a tear.
For her own part, Severine (Roxane Mesquida) represents disenchantment with monogamy. It’s clear from episode one that her relationship with Ford’s isn’t super fulfilling, which is why she tries a number of times to get Ford on board with some sexual exploration and polyamory. Watching her and Ford’s relationship unravel, it becomes apparent that it’s really nobody’s fault -- the two just don’t have the same views on love.
Unique in the portrait it paints of its young characters, Now Apocalypse will make you root for people you wouldn't think you’d ever root for. They may use trendy lingo and make some questionable fashion choices, but they're never stereotypes. They represent the young people of today, and for that we are grateful.
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Lauren Garafano (@laurengarafano) is a TV-obsessed writer living in New York City. Her work has appeared on BuzzFeed, Decider, and TV Insider. She also ships Rachel Green with Joey Tribbiani and nothing in this world can change her mind.