I don’t generally watch rom-coms, but I decided to give the CW’s No Tomorrow a chance after seeing its lead actress, Tori Anderson, in Killjoys this past summer and really enjoying her performance on that show.
Based on the Brazilian TV series Como Aproveitar o Fim do Mundo, the show follows Evie Covington (Anderson), a middle-manager at a tech company who ends up meeting a free spirited and eccentric man Xavier “with an X” Holliday (Joshua Sasse). However, she quickly learns that Xavier’s carefree nature comes from his belief, which he has alleged mathematical proof of, that a comet is going to wipe out the planet in eight months. Despite this, she decides to start dating him because of his infectious spirit and “live life today” attitude, and together they start working through their bucket lists, Xavier to get everything done before the world ends, and Evie just to try and branch out and live more.
There is a lot to like about this show from the actors, to its quirkiness, and to the humor it imbues in its dialogue and plot, but there are two specific things that I think the show’s writers have done really well that are worth looking at.
The first is continually generating new conflict. Last week I wrote about how The Blacklist has held on to the reveal of one of its key plot arcs to the point of making it entirely uninteresting. No Tomorrow doesn’t do this at all. The plot arcs generally close over the course of a couple of episodes. Conflicts brought up in one episode are likely to be solved the next or rather shortly down the line. The tension of the show isn’t generated by keeping the audience in suspense to see if things work out but rather by continually generating new conflicts.
For example, there is a romantic subplot between the Evie’s boss Deidre and her co-worker and friend Hank that develops early on in the show. Deidre confides in Evie that she has the hots for Hank and wants Evie’s help in wooing him. Because Hank and Deidre are so different, and because Deidre is pretty socially awkward in a lot of ways and out of touch with her employees, her attempts to seduce him are incredibly comical. Other shows might have drawn this out for a long time, maybe even a whole season, to capitalize on this dynamic, but No Tomorrow paired the two characters after only a few episodes of courtship. From there the couple had to move on to the challenges inherent in their relationship as boss and employee.
This subplot, or at least the dating part of it, was one of the longer ones in the show. By continually progressing the story and moving the characters into different types of challenges, the show simultaneously gives the viewers what they want without keeping them in suspense for an unnecessary length of time and continuously creates more interesting story arcs for its viewers to consume.
The second point I would highlight, and one that I will be writing a fuller article on next week, is the show’s use of its supporting cast.
Xander and Evie are clearly the leads of this show, but the story doesn’t focus solely on their characters or their romance. A good chunk of time is dedicated to the lives of Evie’s co-workers and even to her ex-boyfriend Timothy as he tries to, at first, win Evie back and then eventually tries to move on with his life after it’s clear they won’t get back together.
While I’ve watched many other shows that either slowly integrate their supporting casts or just outright struggle to find interesting things for some of the characters in the ensemble to do, No Tomorrow is very diligent about its character usage and makes sure that everyone who has a recurring role is a fully fleshed out character with his or her own drive and set of conflicts. They aren’t just set pieces for the main characters to interact with but instead feel like they have their own agency.
For longer works, like serials or series, I think being able to leverage a supporting cast is incredibly important, especially on TV where even leading cast members cannot be expected to work the hours necessary to put them in every scene in every episode. Having multiple plot arcs keeps a story interesting, and being able to lean on a compelling supporting cast can keep a show strong, even in instances where the primary plot line might be a little weak or going through a slow period.
If you haven’t seen No Tomorrow, I definitely recommend checking it out. The series is finishing up for 2016, and I think there’s one more episode in January, so now is a great time to catch up on the episodes that have already aired.
Let me know in the comments if you enjoy this show and what about it you find compelling. Thanks for reading this post and spending just a little bit of time on this blog before the world undoubtedly ends via meteor…