Carol & The End of the World: Sometimes when the world is ending, you just want to feel normal.
December 20, 2023 3:45 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

An asteroid is heading toward earth and there are about 7 months before it's all over. How the world reacts isn't what you might expect. But Carol would prefer something simpler, just some nice apps at Applebees.
posted by Stanczyk (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My own opinion is that Martha Kelly is extraordinary here. But the gift in this show is so small and shows up repeatedly in the form of tiny details and framing, backgrounds and the corners of almost every shot. Nothing here is obvious but you can just feel everything. It's incidentally funny, and subversively profound. It's about how I've been feeling and they didn't quite put it in words, but they did put it in a familiar series of feelings, and for that I feel seen.
posted by Stanczyk at 5:14 PM on December 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

I've watched the first half of this, and find it quite enjoyable, despite the geriatric nudity.

At the start I watched the character, and before she spoke, I said to myself that if it's not voiced by the woman from Baskets (ie Martha Kelly) I would be disappointed. Reader, I was not disappointed.
posted by Marticus at 5:23 PM on December 20, 2023

I watched the first two episodes and while it was really good -- everyone around Carol being relentless with the nagging to find ones-self and live ones best life stands out -- I also found it really, profoundly, depressing. I watched those two episodes back to back and was just left feeling sad. Maybe I am in the wrong headspace for this? or I just bailed too early?
posted by selenized at 8:04 PM on December 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

Yes, I think you should give it another episode or two; she gets less passive as she decides what she kind of wants.
posted by Marticus at 8:19 PM on December 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

I thought this show was great. Really quiet and thoughtful, almost meditative.

The pressure to "live your best life" in the face of apocalypse definitely resonates with me as a millennial staring down the barrel of the New Climate.

The surfing episode was a standout, but it was also very confusing. Did any of that actually happen? Was that all a fantasy? Maybe I missed some important framing setup for that one, because it felt strangely non-sequitur.

I appreciate that they ended the show with some time left before the comet impact. Leaves some room for another season perhaps.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 4:19 AM on December 21, 2023 [3 favorites]

I'm about half-way through - it's not a show I'd want to binge, but that's not a complaint. Like others, I am finding that the show works as a metaphor for aging and climate crisis.

It's an interesting comparison to Don't Look Up, which assumes that the last days would be spent in a manic whirlwind of conspiracy theories, scientists urging faster government action, denial, etc.

This depiction strikes me as much more likely, even if it has its logical holes (society seems to be functioning awfully well considering how many people aren't working - though I suppose the pandemic proved that we could all get by for seven months with only "essential workers" clocking in...but how did so many people learn to paraglide so quickly?) Anyway, I believe and appreciate the depiction of a gradual societal decay (items increasingly out of stock at the grocery store), as well as a reassessment of social norms (more nudity, and just general "excess" seems likely).

I agree it's sad, because grappling with "Am I living the life I want to live?" is not an easy question to confront, for all sorts of reasons, both within and beyond any individual's control. Again, I don't feel compelled to binge it - but I am really enjoying slowly consuming it, and talking about it with my partner.
posted by coffeecat at 10:02 AM on December 29, 2023 [1 favorite]

Watched the whole thing, and came away mostly unfulfilled. Lots and lots and lots of potential that seemed to be squandered in the last two episodes. Surfing episode: good, but pointless from a plot perspective. Final episode: kind of annoying, with a total question mark of a final series of shots. Like, it's a lot to try and make us care about Kathleen at that point.

I guess that's my issue - there are so many characters! And not very many episodes. When it comes to bleak animated shows, I like a sharp focus on central characters that gives them room to really flesh out and change and go through stuff. And, of course, Carol does. And I suppose Donna & Luis also. And I cared about them. But Kathleen? Not so much. And if the whole Distraction formed around the boss guy and his mysterious 36 cent issue, where did the twin managers come from? And who was making the miniature dolls of everyone in the office, which was by far the most intriguing twist of the show which then just got dropped after the beetle brooch reveal? Lots of room for magical realism, none to be seen.

Also: did Applebee's sponsor the show?

I really, really, really wanted to not just like it but love it. Martha Kelly was fantastic.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:51 AM on December 30, 2023

Just watched the first two episodes, and for once (as in, maybe literally for the first time in years), the AV Club gets it right--it's about the mood and the rhythm more than the characters and situations. I also just watched my first episode of Baskets, and it seems like Martha Kelly is playing a very similar character in a very different situation.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:55 PM on December 30, 2023

I really enjoyed this, watched it a couple of episodes at a time. I think the AV Club is right comparing this to somebody somewhere. The mix of real/not sure if real worked as it has a dreamy quality to it.

And a correction for the surfing episode, Hastings is a town with nearly 100,000 residents!
posted by ellieBOA at 2:08 PM on January 7

My take on the surfing episode was that it was the sort of thing that Carol might make up to tell her parents if they asked what her surfing experience was like--just a collation of/pisstake on every surfing-as-spiritual-experience essay and cliche, framed by an Endless Summer-type narrative. Or maybe that's what they made up in their own minds for her. The ambiguity is part of what makes it work for me.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:19 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]

The surfing episode felt like a framing device to Carol's journey. It's not real (it's a parody of something) but the point of it is the somewhat trite "the perfect wave was always there for you". Carol's perfect wave was shown in the last episode. She wasn't looking for much, and it wasn't quite always there, but it was right where she started.

It's a vibe and not for everyone but I think this is a cult classic.

I've got a lot to say but it doesn't really matter. One gets the vibe or one doesn't.
posted by jclarkin at 5:55 AM on January 18

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