Title: No Tomorrow (Pilot)
Airs: Tuesdays 9/8c
Starring: Tori Anderson, Joshua Sasse
Reviewer: Susan Tolleson
FA Scorecard: B
Evie Covington (Tori Anderson) wears some very big rose-colored glasses. As the central character in the CW’s new millennial-focused series No Tomorrow, it seems everyone around her is full of doom and gloom. She’s the kind of person who lights up a room when she walks in, who people look to for a little inspiration, and who annoys co-workers with her silver-lining attitude. But despite her glass-half-full approach to life, she’s not really living. That’s according to Xavier (Joshua Sasse), a guy she crushes on from afar and then coordinates to serendipitously run into at his house.
No Tomorrow is described as a romantic fantasy comedy-drama series—that’s some really big shoes to fill!—and is loosely based on the Brazilian series Como Aproveitar o Fim do Mundo or How to Enjoy the End of the World, which aired on TV Globo in 2012. The series focuses on Evie, who befriends Xavier, a free-spirited guy who inspires her to create an “apocalyst”—a list of things to do before the world ends—which he claims will be in eight months and 12 days. The show centers around her trying to complete her bucket list and her group of friends who never quite trust Xavier.
From the beginning, it’s obvious the show doesn’t take itself seriously, and doesn’t expect viewers to, either. The style is one of subtle humor that overlaps scene changes for chuckles, visually shows Evie’s internal dialogue, uses humorous flashbacks, and contrasts Evie’s optimistic personality with her pessimistic friends who reserve their excitement for things like food truck wiener schnitzel. In the first scene, Evie, a warehouse supervisor, gives her team a pep talk about efficiency and making every moment count before they begin their shift of loading and unloading. She’s greeted with absolutely no reaction. And that’s what much of Evie’s life is like. While she dreams of opportunities like traveling the world to research the charities her company donates to, it seems everyone else’s mission is to suck the life right out of her.
But there is an underlying sadness to the show. Despite all her enthusiasm for life, Evie really leads a simple, straightforward—some would say boring—life. At her core, she is driven by fear to do something new; something she wants to do, not what she’s obligated to do. And that’s where Xavier comes in. Evie has spied this hunky Australian with sparkling blue eyes at the farmer’s market, but other than an awkward encounter over rutabagas where he tells her his name is Xavier “with an X,” she’s not had the guts to have an actual conversation with him. One day, a package is accidentally delivered to her front porch with “Xavier” written in the “to” line. She realizes the address is not very far from there and wonders if this could be the rutabaga guy. So Evie summons her courage and decides to hand deliver it. When rutabaga guy opens the door, the fun begins.
Xavier is every bit as charming as Evie imagined him to be, but when he invites her in, she begins to peel back the layers. “Wow, it’s like you live in a Sky mall catalogue.” Every entertainment and diversion a guy might enjoy, as well as mementos of trips to exotic locations, fill his home. They seem to be hitting it off, then Xavier drops a bombshell—that humankind only has eight months and 12 days to live, that the apocalypse is “nigh.” As she quickly heads for the door, Xavier explains why he believes this to be true and why he turned his life upside down to prepare for it.
Once Evie begins to accept what he’s saying as a possibility—at least, the way he’s living sure is exhilarating—the episode continues with her joining Xavier on his “apocalyst” of things to do before the world ends. As their relationship progresses, Xavier challenges rule-following Evie with her own apocalyst, which starts out with items like putting tinfoil in a microwave or trying a pogo stick. In the process of this adventure with free-spirited Xavier, it opens up in Evie a new way to approach her life. For instance, she realizes if she rewards her mostly male warehouse team with pop-a-shot basketball for doubling their output, they suddenly get a lot more work done and actually look forward to coming back the next day. A pivotal moment in the pilot comes when Xavier sets up an opportunity for Evie to sing onstage at a bar. Overcoming her stage fright, she breaks out into Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.” But one of the most freeing moments of her life turns into one of the most frustrating when Xavier oversteps his boundaries and pushes Evie before she’s ready.
We can all relate to Evie’s struggle to take chances clashing with her desire to be safe. While she is drawn to Xavier and his zest for life, she also is drawn to a predictable and reliable future with Timothy (Jesse Rath), an old boyfriend. It’s the yin and yang so many of us can relate to; that longing for adventure fighting the familiar calling of home.
Dan Harmon, writer of the comedy series Community, outlines the basic structure of any good story:
1. A character is in a zone of comfort,
2. But they want something.
3. They enter an unfamiliar situation,
4. Adapt to it,
5. Get what they wanted,
6. Pay a heavy price for it,
7. Then return to their familiar situation,
8. Having changed.
So far, No Tomorrow follows this structure, but pleasantly, I also found it offered much more. Just when I thought Evie and Xavier would be completing her apocalyst as a couple, the comedy gods made sure the tension would continue. Although they jumped into bed much too early, I found their chemistry to be fun and interesting. Other twists and turns didn’t take the episode on a straight shot, and I didn’t see the last 10 minutes coming. In the end, as she considers the preciousness and brevity of life, the chances Evie takes and decisions she makes are less about doing things and more about the people in her life.