Television

When It Feels Like the World Is Ending, Start Watching No Tomorrow

Tori Anderson holds a stack of papers with text and images. One word is discernible: Apocalypse! In the lower right-hand corner, a tearaway logo reads "Gateway Episodes."
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by the CW.

No Tomorrow has a premise that makes me want to roll my eyes so far back in my head that I see the inside of my own skull: An uptight woman with a demanding job meets a mysterious guy who teaches her how to loosen up, seize the day, and enjoy life to the fullest. Blech. Thank goodness, then, that the short-lived CW comedy—a remake of the Brazilian series Como Aproveitar o Fim do Mundo—is so much savvier and less saccharine than that premise suggests. Unlike Jane the Virgin or Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW’s other out-there shows from the same era, No Tomorrow lasted only one season before it was canceled—a shame, but somehow fitting for a series that’s all about living every moment like it’s your last.

Evie (Tori Anderson) feels stuck in her quality assurance job at Seattle-based e-commerce company Cybermart. Then she meets Xavier, a free spirit who goes on extraordinary adventures and furnishes his house with arcade games like he’s the kid from Big. The motivation behind his unusual lifestyle? Xavier believes that an asteroid is on course to crash into Earth in just eight months, rendering trivial things like credit card debt and parking tickets irrelevant. He has dedicated his remaining time to checking off items on his “apocalist” (which range from “run with the bulls” to “have tea with Judge Judy”) and proselytizing about his end-of-the-world theory to anyone who will listen.

Xavier’s philosophy is especially attractive to someone like Evie, a workaholic who recently broke up with her timid, reliable boyfriend in search of some excitement. (It also helps that Xavier is played by the paragon of hipster hunkiness, Joshua Sasse, seeming much more at ease in this role than he did as the leading man on Galavant.) Evie makes a bucket list of her own, but she soon learns that dating a manic pixie dream guy isn’t all hot sex and pogo sticks. An episode that demonstrates just how complicated Evie and Xavier’s relationship can be—and a good sample to check out if you’re on the fence about the show—is Episode 3, “No Doubt.”

It’s Evie’s birthday, and her co-workers and family are expecting to finally meet the new guy she’s been seeing just as she’s starting to realize that Xavier’s whole schtick is kind of … embarrassing. While attending a reading by astrophysicist Tyra DeNeil Fields—an obvious stand-in for Neil deGrasse Tyson—Xavier makes a scene, insisting that she look over his asteroid research, and winds up spending the night in jail. Even more ominously, Evie’s co-worker looks Xavier up on the “dark web” and finds no evidence that he even exists. Her list of pros and cons about Xavier says it all: On the positive side, she writes “sounds like Colin Firth” and “good kissing height.” On the negative side, she writes “INSANE????”

These are the kinds of the questions that linger throughout No Tomorrow: Is Xavier a free spirit, a kook, or something more sinister? Could his doomsday theory possibly be true—and does it matter, if his live-for-now philosophy helps people anyway? It certainly makes him a first-rate party planner: Xavier surprises Evie with a huge birthday shindig that combines multiple items on her own apocalist and culminates in an incredibly romantic grand gesture. But Evie is too preoccupied to enjoy it, so worried is she that Xavier will tell her loved ones about his theory—which of course he does, leading to an argument. Evie is mortified, but Xavier is angry. “Would you think I was crazy if I said I believed a man could turn water into wine?” he demands, calling her a bigot and accusing her of only respecting his beliefs when it’s fun for her.

Evie is understandably outraged by the accusation, and Xavier comparing himself to someone being persecuted for their religion or sexuality is absurd. Still, his public declaration does reveal that everyone else around Evie is a little bit “crazy” too, from her mother, who visits a psychic, to her friend Hank (Jonathan Langdon), who believes in government conspiracies and aliens. She decides she can accept Xavier as he is as long as his outlook improves people’s lives—but the two still hatch a plot to get his research peer-reviewed for Evie’s peace of mind (and possibly the fate of humanity). The episode ends on a note that is, OK, fine, more than a little schmaltzy, but it also nicely sets up the darker side to the feel-good rom-com tropes at play.

Setting aside all the end-of-the-world stuff, No Tomorrow is actually a solid workplace comedy too: “No Doubt” features a B story centered around Cybermart—which might as well be named Schmamazon—where someone is putting incorrect items into packages at the warehouse, apparently on purpose. Future episodes explore the human resources–forbidden romance between Hank and his boss Deirdre (Amy Pietz) and the ongoing clashes between unionized floor workers and management, with occasional nods to serious issues like immigration reform and marriage equality. If No Tomorrow had been renewed for another season, it would’ve been interesting to see if the show could have outlived its premise entirely and become a sunnier version of Superstore. As it stands, the first season works pretty well as a self-contained story, and the creators released a hasty video epilogue to offer viewers some closure, so if “No Doubt” catches your fancy, you can binge the rest without fear of a cliffhanger.

No Tomorrow

Also available to stream on Netflix.