British cop drama Hard Sun leads a wave of new takes on the end of the world. Spoiler alert: It’s not as bad as it seems
Since ancient times, humans have lusted for the ability to see the future. Our oracles and prophets, and even some of our modern day psychics and star-gazers, are commonly characterised as gifted, blessed, touched by a greater power.
But what if knowing the future turned out to really, really suck?
Certainly the idea that such seers might have a steep price to pay stretches across world cultures, from Cassandra of Greek myth to Fiver in Watership Down. But the new “pre-apocalyptic” drama Hard Sun, a BBC series debuting stateside on Hulu, puts a modern spin on the clairvoyance cure that’s as shiny and high-tech as it is archetypal. Two police detectives, Elaine Renko and Charlie Hicks, are investigating the death of a hacker when they come into possession of a flash drive at the centre of the case. As bodies pile up around them, they realise what’s on the drive: incontrovertible evidence that the world is going to end in five years, the planet engulfed in an unstoppable cosmic event. Suddenly they have a choice to make: Do they give in to the shadowy government forces that, fearing global chaos, want to keep the information from getting out at all costs? Or do they tell the world, even though there’s nothing anyone can do to alter their fiery fate? Already constantly at odds with each other and now forced into an impossible situation, they face galactically steep odds. And yet the man who created these characters, showrunner Neil Cross, doesn’t feel bad for them at all. Hell, Renko and Hicks have it easy; Cross has to write this story — his third television series after the similarly dark BBC drama Luther and NBC’s Crossbones — and keep these characters motivated in the face of extinction. How does he approach it? “With fear and trepidation every morning,” says Cross. “I go to my computer frightened and feeling that the task ahead of me is insurmountable. But that’s what makes me work hard.”
Besides, isn’t what Hard Sun’s main characters are facing just an extreme metaphor for what the rest of us go through every day?
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