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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Station Eleven

Streaming on HBO Max / Film & TV

Unless they’re sweeping, fantastical epics, book-to-TV adaptations are hit or miss. Lean too heavy into the source material and you end up with something dry; too liberal an interpretation risks alienating fans of the novel. HBO Max’s Station Eleven, an adaptation of Emily St. John Mandel’s 2014 novel about a flu pandemic, walks this tightrope with elegance. After the virus kills most of the world’s population, a group of actor-musicians called “the Traveling Symphony” moves between towns of survivors to perform Shakespeare plays. As they bounce around the Upper Midwest, and risk getting sick, the show frequently flashes back to pre-pandemic life. It offers glimpses of times before the outbreak, and the struggles of Kristen (Mackenzie Davis) and Jeevan (Himesh Patel) while carrying on during an endless pandemic. —Jacob Robbins

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