No Tomorrow Series Premiere Plot Summary:
Shy 30-year-old Evie (Tori Anderson) has her life turned upside down when she meets her dream guy, Xavier (Joshua Sasse). He helps her come out of her shell and figure out what she wants…and thinks the apocalypse is happening in 8 months and 12 days.
In the past couple years, The CW has become a surprising haven for truly excellent (and quietly subversive) romantic comedies. First there was Jane the Virgin, with its simultaneous parody and embrace of the insanity of telenovelas. Then last year we got Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a musical romp about a deeply depressed woman chasing after her old boyfriend (and facing her own demons in the process). So it’s no surprise that The CW was the network that picked up No Tomorrow, a show with a premise that sounds cast in the same mold. The show, about the relationship between an average woman and a man who believes the apocalypse is coming, could have the potential to reach the same heights as those past efforts. Yet it lacks that spark of creativity that makes The CW’s other romances so compelling.
Putting the veneration of impulsiveness and fun-loving spontaneity so common in romantic comedies into the mouth of a conspiracy theorist who lives that way because he believes the apocalypse is imminent is an interesting twist on the concept, but No Tomorrow rarely leans into that. In fact, for most of the episode it feels like a pretty bog-standard rom-com with a slightly more unusual worldview tacked on to one of the leads. From Evie’s “quirky” nature, to the generic charms of free spirit Xavier, to the reliable but boring boyfriend Evie feels uninspired by, almost nothing about what happens is particularly new or interesting. Not everything has to be original, but when a show fails to capture the idea of its own premise to the point that said premise begins to feel extraneous, you start to question why it’s even being made.
This decision not to embrace the absurdity of the premise is made particularly egregious by the fact that the few moments where they do choose to lean into it are undoubtedly the episode’s best. Moments like Evie’s friend Hank (Jonathan Langdon) explaining his own theory on how the apocalypse is imminent, her boyfriend Timothy (Jesse Rath) speaking so quietly that he requires subtitles, and her hated boss Deirdre (Amy Pietz) enlisting Evie’s help to woo Hank show hints of a much stronger comedy than we see otherwise. And beyond just comedy, the final few minutes are the only ones of the Evie-Xavier romance that seem determined to break out of the generic romantic comedy mold. First we have Evie take Xavier to task for assuming what’s best for her and almost getting her fired, making it clear that her pursuit of a more spontaneous life with him will be on her own terms, avoiding the most problematic pitfalls with these kind of plots. Then in the final few moments we have Xavier’s cousin Jesse show up after breaking out of jail, finally upping the stakes on just how much trouble Xavier’s unwavering belief in the apocalypse could cause. These sparks of life are encouraging, but they don’t quite make up for the other 55 minutes.
The biggest problem for the show, however, might just be that it doesn’t quite do the work to justify Evie and Xavier’s relationship. If your show is a romance, you can let a lot of things slide as long as that central connection between the leads is strong enough. Conversely, if it isn’t, doing everything else perfectly can’t really make up for it. You can begin to understand why Evie might wish to pursue the relationship, considering her own lack of confidence and dissatisfaction with the mundanity of her life, but that dissatisfaction isn’t really drawn into sharp enough relief to fully explain such a desperate move. Meanwhile, it’s not clear why Xavier is so keen on experiencing the rest of his (and Earth’s) life with Evie. Some brief flashbacks attempt to explain, but his brief glimpses into her life hardly justify the deep connection they seem to have. All this could be forgiven with enough chemistry, but while both leads are charming enough, their banter is far too generic to give an idea of their dynamic beyond “shy quirky girl and outgoing guy,” and that’s not enough.
To be clear, No Tomorrow‘s pilot is not bad, per se. It’s entertaining enough, there are a few good laughs, and the actors are largely endearing. But it’s really nothing special, and hardly a solid foundation for a show. There’s the kernel of another really great CW rom-com in the premise, but it doesn’t feel like the creators know how to get to it. Maybe in time it will be able to find itself and reach those same heights of greatness, but for now there doesn’t seem much hope of that.
RATING: 5 OUT OF 10
No Tomorrow Airs Tuesdays at 9 PM on The CW