As a millennial, I’m aware that we come across as a puzzle piece of narcissism and niceness. We’re the selfie generation that uses social media to give back, attends protests and *tries* to buy fairtrade (when we can afford it). But it’s these very personality traits that make an apocalyptic future (or lack of) so appealing; we’re drawn to the idea of a glittering cataclysmic explosion filled end like tweens bewitched by Kylie Jenner’s Instagram feed.
This might be hard to believe from a generation that oozes optimism, but data does not lie.
I’ll start with a Netflix, a company that has an 81% millennial user base out of its 86.7 million users. They’re the kings of data analysis, using algorithms not just to predict hits but to create them — hence the insanely popular House of Cards. This means they deeply understand their audience and can design shows purely to appeal to them, down to such minute details as hero hair color and job opportunities. And they’re pretty open about this as well. So when you realize that over the last few years they’ve acquired and commissioned a number of apocalypse driven shows, including 100, The Walking Dead and Between, well, you realize that some really do wish the end was nigh.
It’s likely their analytics helped them uncover that the end of the world is a hot topic for the millennial market. Their algorithmic monkeys predicted that this generation wants doom, destruction, and black comedy, and they’ve served it up to us with a side of nihilism. The cult accrued by their Black Mirror release shows how well they’ve targeted the modern feeling of disillusion and disenchantment with authority.
The end of the world trend continues on other networks. Amazon recently greenlit Good Omens, an adaptation of a Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel, where Doomsday is scheduled for next Saturday. In the U.K., the BBC’s teamed up with Hulu to produce Hard Sun, a pre-apocalyptic cop show, set on looking at how to enforce law when the end, unequivocally (again), is nigh.
“What’s the point of justice in the face of Armageddon?” Neil Cross, the show’s producer and creator, said in a release.“How do you get up in the morning? How do you get out of bed and leave your family and go out there, putting your own life at risk?”
Overall, there’s a noticeable glut of post-apocalyptic TV (3%, The Last Man on Earth, Jericho) which provide snackable survivor shows, intertwining fantasy and voyeurism. Their draw is straightforward, presenting a futuristic potentially dystopian society that’s reshaping itself in the wake of a disaster, manmade or not.
But pre-apocalyptic television shows are a rising genre, one that’s steadily grown over the last couple of years, and can be somewhat be attributed to the current tension in the political climate. Millennials have trouble imagining a future where they’ll earn enough to buy a house, raise a family, and even travel without sanctions. Hence, programming that tells them this is the norm — by allowing them to think the lack of a future is acceptable.