From the mind of Scott Z Burns (Contagion) comes Extrapolations, a star-studded eco-drama streaming on Apple TV+. The climate crisis has been a major talking point for decades now and, much like Contagion did for a global pandemic, Burns’s latest work envisions what could happen if global warming is allowed to go unchecked. By integrating eight different stories over several decades, this weighty drama dissects how the effects of climate change could impact nature, health, faith and economy. Despite its good intentions and impressive star power, though, Extrapolations is a convoluted and chaotic mess with frequent tonal abnormalities.
The series has a lot of big names in front of the camera, including Meryl Streep, Kit Harington, David Schwimmer, Daveed Diggs, Tobey McGuire, Forest Whitaker and Marion Cotillard, each giving a commendable performance in their respective role. Diggs especially stands out as a hopeful rabbi trying to do his best for his congregation. Likewise, Harington brings compelling charisma to his portrayal of a tech billionaire whose company holds the keys to humanity’s survival, whilst Sienna Miller plays a wildlife conservationist with compassion and conviction.
Throughout the course of the opening episodes, which take viewers from 2037 to 2047, the show raises several profound questions about what we may face in our not-so-distant future, with a particular emphasis on how corporations would likely profit from the catastrophe. All these points paint a solemn yet timely picture of humanity and our relationship with nature.
Extrapolation’s issues stem from its inability to strike a balance between the character-driven stories it wants to tell and its hefty talking points. Here, the drama comes across more as an afterthought as the series plays out like a meandering lecture. Consequently, the pacing drags to a crawl at several points as the ensuing thrill becomes gradually more diluted.
Moreover, this show’s tone is incomprehensibly disordered. One moment, a group of greedy capitalists are plotting to build a casino in the Arctic Circle, the next, one of them is abruptly killed by a walrus; a later episode sees Diggs’s rabbi character contemplating how to stop his synagogue from flooding, and later he’s singing a duet of Singin’ in the Rain. Though Extrapolations is designed to be a wake-up call to the grim future that awaits us, Burns’s creation is too messy and bizarre to find a solid footing.
Extrapolations is released on Apple TV+ on 17th March 2023.
Watch the trailer for Extrapolations here: