Gregg Araki — the gay Japanese-American director behind such films as The Doom Generation, Mysterious Skin and the sexy wrestling episode of Riverdale, our favorite queer TV show — is teaming up with director Steven Soderbergh to create a new Starz TV series called Now Apocalypse. Described as a “surreal coming-of-age-comedy,” it’s about four Los Angeles friends looking for love and sex through dating apps.
When we first heard about Now Apocalypse, we assumed it would involve a hunky, forlorn, drug-using bisexual guy who gets entangled in an alien conspiracy (because that’s the plot of at least two of Araki’s films). It turns out from the show’s description we weren’t far off.
The 10-episode series will follow Ulysses and his friends Carly, Ford and Severine. Says Variety, “Between sexual and romantic dating app adventures, Ulysses grows increasingly troubled as foreboding premonitory dreams make him wonder if some kind of dark and monstrous conspiracy is going on, or is he just smoking too much weed?”
“If this isn’t the craziest thing I’ve ever read, it’s tied for first,” says Soderbergh. “We will not be responsible for people’s heads splitting in half when they see it.”
The episodes will be co-written by Araki and Vogue sex columnist Karley Sciortino. Araki will also executive produce with Soderbergh.
A quick-and-dirty history of Gregg Araki
If you’re not familiar with Araki, he helped bring queer film into the mainstream as one of the New Queer Cinema filmmakers of the early 1990s, along with other directors like Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho), Bruce La Bruce (Hustler White), Jennie Livingston (Paris is Burning), Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine, Carol) and Bill Sherwood (Parting Glances).
He filmed his debut films, The Long Weekend (O’ Despair) and Three Bewildered People in the Night, on a $5,000 budget and in a guerrilla style, using handheld cameras and without securing public shooting permits.
His critical debut came in 1992 with The Living End, an unconventional HIV drama about an outlaw who wants to end his life by simultaneously ejaculating and blowing his brains out. He then went on to direct the “Teen Apocalypse Trilogy” — consisting of Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation and Nowhere — an unrelated trio of feature films about aimlessly promiscuous teens who were often LGB-identified.
After the ’90s, in 2004 Gregg Araki directed Mysterious Skin (the trailer for which is above) with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a story about a male sex worker and a young boy who may have been abducted by aliens as children.
Smiley Face (2007) was a stoner comedy in which Anna Faris disastrously runs errands after accidentally ingesting an entire plate of cannabis-infused cupcakes. And most recently, White Bird in a Blizzard (2012) was a queer-tinged coming-of-age mystery about the disappearance of a young woman’s mother.