In early 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was in its infancy, there was a sudden spike of interest in watching the 2011 film Contagion. Ditto for 1995’s Outbreak. Chalk it up to morbid curiosity. When feeling threatened by an actual pandemic, some people lean in to that fear and uncertainty with their media choices rather than seeking escape—perhaps as an evolved response mechanism for dealing with threats by learning from imagined experiences.
That would seem to bode well for the success of Station Eleven, a forthcoming new series from HBO Max that depicts the onset and aftermath of a global flu pandemic that wipes out most of humanity. HBO greenlit the series—which is based on the award-winning 2014 novel of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel—in the Before Times. The network just dropped an intriguing teaser, along with a few first-look still photographs.
Timing might be a factor here. Granted, there was an uptick in readership for Mandel’s novel last year, in keeping with the morbid curiosity hypothesis. But with COVID-19 cases still sporadically surging around the world and fatigue and frustration mounting, has the taste for apocalyptic pandemic scenarios (other than zombie movies) run its course?