In one of the most devastatingly beautiful, heart-achingly optimistic endings of television in ages, HBO’s Station Eleven debuted its final episode last week, rounding out a tremendous, all-timer season of television. While bidding farewell to Kirsten (Mackenzie Davis & Matilda Lawler), Jeevan (Himesh Patel) and co. was bittersweet, the final chapter ended with grace and clarity, leaving no questions unanswered and providing both a satisfying and exhilarating conclusion to a show that, even with its eerily timely story about a post-apocalyptic world following a fatal pandemic, will be looked upon as not just one of the best of the year, but best of all time.
Blazing in its message of moving forward and moving on, but always remembering those who contributed to the pages in the chapters of our lives, Station Eleven, from its moving performances (particularly from Lawler, Patel, Nabhaan Rizwan as Frank and Danielle Deadwyler as Miranda), to the melancholy hope and visceral score from Dan Romer, was masterful. So, it’s understandable that following its finale, viewers may require shows to fill a similar void. Here are seven shows to watch after finishing Station Eleven.
The Last Man on Earth
This one feels self-explanatory. Starring Will Forte, The Last Man on Earth, at least in the premiere episode, focuses on just that. Forte plays Phil, who believes he may be the only one left alive following a cataclysmic event taking place in – ahem – 2022. We meet him after he’s been traveling the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in his worn-down RV.
However, soon survivors come to him in Tucson, building a much more ensemble piece of television. While desperate for companionship, Phil needs time to remember what it means to live in a society. Similar to Station Eleven, in the post-apocalyptic world, there are different chasms of beliefs of how best to continue to survive in both a smaller yet more vast world. A comedy of errors, The Last Man on Earth, even in its moments of levity, is a much more comedic take on such bleak events, but it still holds to the belief system that humans are capable of evolution and change, even under dire circumstances.
Where to Watch: Hulu
Yet another story about the end of the world, though this one with far fewer answers, The Leftovers is one of the most beguiling series of the last twenty years. Like Station Eleven, less impact is placed on the actual cataclysmic event and more so on what follows the afterlife as we’ve known it has ended.
In The Leftovers, this happens when one day 2% of the population disappears without a trace or hint to what might’ve happened to them. Some believe it’s rapture, others judgment, while some, such as Justin Theroux’s Kevin and Carrie Coon’s Nora try to untangle their lives before while simultaneously trying to make sense and find peace in the present. The fact that their fate is sealed in something other than devastation and catastrophe, more preoccupied with an enduring love story, makes it all the more potent. Patrick Somerville, the showrunner for Station Eleven, wrote on Seasons 2 and 3 of The Leftovers.
Where to Watch: HBO Max
Made in Abyss
Not every show on this list necessarily mirrors the events of Station Eleven. Rather, in some cases, some elements evoke similar feelings or capture certain shared ideals. Made in Abyss, the anime series, is about a young girl and the humanoid boy she meets as they descend into a strange, giant hole entering the center of the earth in search of her long-lost mother. An eerie combination of works of Hayao Miyazaki, such as Princess Mononoke and The Castle in the Sky, along with films such as Alex Garland’s haunting Annihilation, this show is for those who are looking for a story that captures the same sense of oncoming discovery.
Station Eleven is the much more optimistic show of the two but what links it thematically to Made in Abyss is how it presents a world overtaken by nature and drowning in greens that presents as much danger in its beauty as it does enlightenment. Perhaps anime is a daunting prospect to you, but if looking for something overwhelming and possessing the same level of visual splendor, it’s worth a peek.
Where to Watch: Prime Video
Russian Doll, at surface level, is a live, die, repeat mode of storytelling where a woman continues to die each day, only to awaken again in the same bathroom, as the same song wails overhead, much to her confusion and increasing rage. Beyond the framework is a story that aims to dissect grief, trauma, and the release that happens when you find a kindred spirit, even if that person is found stuck in the same time loop. It, like Station Eleven, uses its structure to explore greater themes and ideas, creating a symphonic marriage of loose genre guidelines, dreamlike plays on reality, and a structure that’s as empathetic towards its subjects as it is excited to tell their story. Both delves deep into introspection which reveals multitudes of the human condition and our innate desire to preserve through the pain to get to the other side, regardless of what that other side might be.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Lana and Lilly Wachowski bottled lightning in Sense8, the sci-fi extravaganza that spanned countries and cultures, following eight initial strangers who are all, somehow, psychically linked and able to experience and aid in one another’s day to day lives, even when physically apart. Bold and messy, the series is the very definition of a story that wears its heart proudly on its sleeve, a declarative and ambitious stroke of genius from a filmmaker who is constantly working against the media’s typical structure. There’s especially a link in the ninth episode which see’s Jeevan at his limit as he witness multiple women giving birth, containing a similar euphoric sense of life as the scene in season one of Sense8 where the lead characters bear witness and experience their own births. With its eclectic and diverse cast and a story that intertwines to show how we’re all interconnected—and how that’s a good thing—Sense8 may not rise to the prestige level of Station Eleven, but it shares a similar heart.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Star Trek The Original Series
As we’ve noted, there’s a bond between the Star Trek lore and Station Eleven. However, beyond a snippet of young Kirsten watching an episode, there’s not as much explicit text in the story that links the two, despite a greater connection being developed in the novel. There’s Easter eggs though Instead, such as a quote on the side of their traveling caravan that reads “survival is insufficient”, a quote from Star Trek, and the motto of the symphony. It’s the imagery of the spaceman from the ‘Station Eleven’ graphic novel written by Miranda and cherished by Kirsten. Greater still, it’s the idea of perseverance employing remembrance and honoring the past in which they came from. For those who haven’t already seen the William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy-led Star Trek, which aired from 1966 to 1969, the series is a wonderful and wonderfully hokey science-fiction piece that, like Station Eleven, seeks out the greatest aspects of the universe, even when they’re thrust against some of the ugliest.
Where to Watch: Paramount Plus
Twin Peaks: The Return
To undersell the point, director David Lynch knows how to make you feel stuff. With a keen understanding of just how to grasp the heart of the viewer, make them shake in anticipation and stare agape in horror, Lynch, since the very start of his career, has always possessed a gift for leaving viewers deeply unsettled through his stark and frank depictions of human horrors. Not quite the obvious juxtaposition of Patrick Somerville’s adaptation of Emily St. John Mandel’s novel which, while set against a devastating and curiously timed tragedy, never fails in its evocative desire to showcase end times through half-full glasses.
However, if the work of Lynch and this series share a trait, it is the visceral reaction it levels you with. There are no real similarities between the Club Silencio sequence in Mulholland Drive and in the penultimate episode of Station Eleven, where Jeevan helps in the delivery of multiple childbirths, but the all-consuming, starting in your gut well of emotion that it manages to dredge forth are strikingly similar. It’s haunting but enthralling, dizzying yet so captivating it’s impossible to tear your eyes from the screen. Both shows, more than many others, understand how to make you feel.
Where to Watch: Hulu with Showtime
Watch the trailer for Station Eleven here