Welcome to internet television, where there… are… no… rules! At least that’s what we’re told. But usually internet tv shows boil down more or less to the same conventions we see everywhere else, except people say “fuck” way more. That was certainly the case with The After. Chris Carter was really going for a record with this one! Add up all the movies starring Harvey Keitel ever made and you still don’t hear the word “fuck” as much as you do in the fifty-five minutes this supernatural apocalyptic thriller took to unfold.
The heroine of The After is Gigi, a sexy French girl we first think is an assassin but actually turns out to be an actress merely preparing to audition for the role of an assassin. Because it’s always important to reference modern technology in an internet pilot to keep the kids interested, she FaceTimes with her sexy husband and adorable little girl who mumbles incoherently and toddles back and forth in a way I suppose parents who have kids find adorable, but that lead my mind to drift to more important issues like “What ever happened to Shields and Yarnell?” and “Why do my fingers smell like roast beef?”
Bad news, people: Gigi doesn’t get the part. Even worse news: the audition was in Century City, which is basically a single street with big buildings sandwiched between Beverly Hills and the Westfield Shopping Mall and can apparently be rented out super-cheap because it’s subbed in as “important big city business hub” on every tv show since Knots Landing was still on the air.
Next thing you know, Gigi finds herself trapped in an elevator with a diverse group of strangers with varying ethnic backgrounds and mysterious pasts, including a Latina cop, a white middle aged dowager with a cane, an Irish loud-mouth brute (“We’re goona have tah take the fookin’ starwell!”), and a pudgy birthday clown. The maximum capacity of the elevator did not allow for an emotionally-brittle Korean or a mean-faced Middle Easterner who regrets his past, so we’ll have to wait on them til we get a series pick-up.
In the span of about five seconds, everyone in the jammed elevator goes into red-alert panic, which I can tell you from first hand experience is not believable because once I got stuck in an elevator with Emmy-winning actress Tyne Daly while we were both on our way up to Islands Fine Burgers and Drinks, and instead of freaking out we sat down on the floor and played Uno until Guapo the security guard came and freed us with his special elevator key.
The gang eventually makes it into a locked parking structure, where they encounter a wrongly accused African American who’s recently escaped from prison, a sexy Southern “gal on the go,” and Adrian Pasdar, who has yet to be hired for a role where he doesn’t have to wear a dress shirt and an Armani two-button dress vest. For the next ten minutes, they all spend so long arguing and yelling at each other about what their next move should be that I honestly thought this show was going to be about a group of people having to re-populate the Earth from inside an underground West L.A.-adjacent parking structure (My boyfriend said that he’d be willing to have sex with the clown).
We’re close to the thirty-minute mark before Gigi finally manages to scurry under the parking lot grate and stumble out into the streets of Century City, only to find hundreds of people running around amidst chaos, exploding helicopters and ash raining down from the sky, which makes me happy because my first agent is housed in Century City and he dropped me because he said my writing came off as “too Jewish” so an extra noisy workday is exactly what he deserves. Try closing Brooke Shields for that mouthwash commercial now, dick.
Is it an alien attack? The end of the world? Terrorists? Apparently, we’re not going to find out because no one has any answers. I know that internet television shows are supposed turn the rules of storytelling upside down, but apparently that now means not only do they not have to explain the mystery, they don’t even have to effectively set one up. Well, I guess they know everyone’s just gonna scrub to the last five minutes anyway. And the final moments of The After do hold something of a twist, but we’re not there yet. In fact, we’re a long way off, but stay with me because I can get through it fast. It’s Sunday and I’ve had a lot of caffeine.
The gang hijacks an emergency medical truck and drives off to Bel Air where the dowager with the limp lives. They all argue over how to get through the front gate because there’s no power, but eventually the wrongly accused escapee gives an eye roll that clearly says, “Yo, crackers be silly!” and charges through the gate with the truck.
By the way, throughout all this, the clown is still completely in clown costume. I mean, he hasn’t taken off the hat, the wig, the rubber nose or any make up. Worse, he hasn’t made any balloon animals nor has he fallen backwards on his ass after sneezing comedically hard. Missed opportunities abound on The After.
Now we’re in the mansion and the gang seems to have forgotten all about The Book of Revelation as they marvel over the priceless works of art, caviar in the fridge and wine cellar. The limp dowager searches for her cleaning lady and the clown strips down to his wife beater and tidy-whities to reveal himself to be the one and only Jamie Kennedy, upon which my boyfriend immediately withdrew the offer for sex. Meanwhile, the blond Southern “gal on the go” decides to go skinny-dipping and the Irish brute declares that he would like to “fook” her.
Later in the kitchen, they all discover that were born on the same day… March 7th (but how can that be!!). Also, the clown is gay. Also, the Irish brute hates gays, the wrongly accused African American hates Irish brutes, the limp dowager hates foul language, Adrian Pasdar hates confrontation, Gigi’s cell phone dies, and there’s no Dubonnet in the bar.
Next, a bunch of gang bangers who went back into the casting pool when Southland got cancelled show up and demand to be led to the safe. They also do that thing tv gang bangers do where they suggest that they might just rape all the women, but the women shouldn’t worry because they’re all gonna like it. Wrongly-accused comes out of the front door, bullets blazing, and everybody runs. They all end up behind the house in the woods, where the trees shake and eerily whisper words that you can never quite make out, but to me always sound like, “I can’t believe it’s not butter!”
Now we’re near the end, and there’s a twist, and I probably shouldn’t tell you what it is. But I can tell you that there’s something very creepy in the woods, and the show was written by Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, so stop here if you don’t want to know what the twist is, because it’s an alien.
This show is not really for me. Not only am I not a big supernatural or end-of-days freak, but I’m also growing weary of shows that try to make menacing titles out of putting the word “The” in front of other words that aren’t meant to be nouns… like The After, The Following, and The Embossed in Jazzy Fine Gold Leaf Lettering!
Yeah, I know. There’s no show actually called The Embossed in Jazzy Fine Gold Leaf Lettering! yet. But this is internet television, kids! It’s a whole… new… world!