'Now Apocalypse' Season 1: Gregg Araki's latest show for Starz cements his place in the pantheon of New Queer Cinema
Starz show 'Now Apocalypse' has many excited thanks to the promising writer and director at the helm: Gregg Araki. The independent filmmaker is known for work that is unconventional and that voices teenage angst. He emerged as an idiosyncratic talent who portrayed LGBTQIA+ characters with nuance.
His most celebrated film 'Mysterious Skin', starring Brady Corbet (Brian Lackey) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Neil McCormick), is also his most conventional work. The film is about Neil, who discovers he is gay and one fateful summer is sexually abused by his little league coach. The part that Brian plays in Neil's life and vice versa is portrayed through a screenplay that is abstract and arouses curiosity. This was also the first time that Araki made a film based on a work by someone else. The film was based on the novel of the same name by Scott Heim.
His other films, specifically the Teenage Apocalypse trilogy: 'Totally Fu***** Up', 'The Doom Generation', and 'Nowhere', define Araki's style of filmmaking better and are a lot more impressionistic and have greater impact. It was also the beginning of Araki portraying disenfranchised teenagers and how they led their lives. When the film 'Totally Fu***** Up' had released, the critics had hailed it as one of the best 10 films of the year and even called it the '90s version of 'Breakfast Club'. He made movies about a section of society and its culture which was rarely explored before.
Araki had started making movies on very small budgets and, yet, he made a statement with his first few films which received critical acclaim. Staring with 'Three Bewildered People in the Night' in 1987, 'The Long Weekend (O' Despair)' in 1989 and 'The Living End' in 1992 made a mark. The increased budgets helped him make the Teenage Apocalypse trilogy. His tenth film, 'Kaboom', was awarded the first ever Cannes Film Festival Queer Palm award. However, the film itself was said to be a repetition of themes and plotlines that Araki had previously explored in his films.
One of the most important films of its time and the reason why Gregg Araki has come to be associated with Queer Cinema is his 1992 film 'The Living End'. The film's lead characters Luke (Mike Dytri) and Jon (Craig Gilmore) are HIV positive and gay. The film was hailed by the gay community as a relevant comment on the Ronald Reagan administration and its inaction during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s given the stigma faced by the gay community then.
Araki's style of filmmaking termed as New Queer Cinema also incorporates male leads with subversive masculinity. For instance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character of a gay prostitute in 'Mysterious Skin' would be a winner when it comes to portraying radical masculinity, especially in the '90s.
Araki is tackling a new format with his latest show 'Now Apocalypse', a 10-episode series starring Avan Jogia, Tyler Posey, Kelli Berglund, Beau Mirchoff and Roxane Mesquida. Avan Jogia plays the lead role of Ulysses and the show follows him and his friends as they explore love, sex and fame in Los Angeles.
Avan here plays the role of a boy who cannot stop himself from getting into trouble. He knows his friends are insane and sanity is surely not what he is in search of anyway. He is an abstract version of a millennial male and has no definitive character trait to be labelled masochistic or otherwise. He has yet again tried to disrupt the way teenage boys are portrayed on screen with his three male characters played by Avan, Tyler and Beau Mirchoff.
Araki had tried to make a similar show with MTV much earlier titled 'This Is How the World Ends'. He had even shot a pilot episode for the show, which is now available on YouTube, but it never took off.
'Now Apocalypse' is set to air on March 10 on Starz.