Created by Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen, Apple TV+’s Hello Tomorrow! stars Billy Crudup as a 1950s traveling salesman peddling “Brightside Lunar Residences”—an idyllic suburban condo community enclosed under a dome on the moon. But all is not what it seems on this excellent series, which just dropped its first three episodes. Here are 10 (spoiler-free) reasons to watch!
Hello Tomorrow! takes place in a wonderfully designed world that looks a lot like an idealized version of the 1950s. Yhe very first scene drops us into an all-night diner that’s straight out of an Edward Hopper painting. The clothing, hairstyles, music, and mid-century architecture and interiors scream “Eisenhower era.” But that diner has robot servers behind the bar and hover cars in the parking lot; elsewhere, we see tons of other nifty sci-fi touches. Robots handle tasks like dog walking, lawn care, and delivering mail. Calls are made on black and white video phones. Beep-booping briefcases float behind their owners. There are actual jet packs! We also get a sense that trips to the moon are just a regular, accepted part of the culture.
Jack is a gifted salesperson, able to deliver a pitch so convincing it hooks in even the most unlikely customer, but selling has become his entire personality. It’s the only way he can function in the life he’s created for himself, where he’s forced to put on a false front not just at work, but in his personal life… especially when he impulsively reconnects with his long-lost son without revealing his true identity to the young man. Thanks to Crudup’s deft performance, we get a sense from the start that Jack has been folded into his lies for so long that he’s almost started to believe them—and we’re already worried about what will happen when his facade starts to crack.
Jack’s sales team—Shirley (Haneefah Wood), Herb (Dewshane Williams), and Eddie (Hank Azaria), plus newcomer Joey (Nicholas Podany)—toil selling the dreams and opportunities that Brightside Lunar Residences represent, but they all have different motivations lurking below the surface. The writing on Hello Tomorrow! fleshes out each character in ways both broad and nuanced. For example, Eddie is a gambling addict who knows he should pay off his dangerously mounting debts, but he has a hard time doing the right thing (and an all too easy time doing the wrong thing). He’s extremely competitive, particularly when it comes to his sales rival, the tightly wound Herb. He also has a spicy romantic relationship with the no-nonsense Shirley; on paper, they’re an obvious mismatch, but somehow the chemistry works.
We very quickly get a sense of all the supporting players, though the naive Joey—who joins the team at Jack’s insistence, not realizing his new boss is his long-lost father—feels like the character whose arc will shift the most as the season progresses. That said, we encounter more key characters along the way, like Myrtle (Alison Pill), a frustrated housewife who upends her life to pursue a new, lunar one… with rage to spare when Brightside doesn’t immediately deliver. The zippy pace of the show (each episode is around 30 minutes) feels exactly right to keep track of all the unfolding dramas.
We know early on that Jack is lying about a lot of things—but how far will it go? Is anyone else involved? How did he get started on this path? What will happen when things inevitably come crashing down? The tension starts building in episode one, and it’s both agonizing and delicious.
Hello Tomorrow! pushes an upbeat view of a futuristic past (the first episode is titled “Your Brighter Tomorrow, Today”) that’s so glossy you instantly know there’s more going on. In an early scene, we see a woman get crushed by a driverless “Amazing Personal Products” delivery van (a not-so-subtle dig at Amazon) that then zooms away, seemingly having no way of knowing it’s just mangled a human being. That feeling—an undercurrent of anxiety—continues throughout. It’s part Cold War-era paranoia, part there-are-too-many-robots unease, and part “oh my god I am a fraud” personal terror that’s shared by nearly all the characters.
The nostalgia factor on Hello Tomorrow! is spot-on. In episode two, “Great Salesmen Make Their Own Turf,” Jack strong-arms everyone into going to a baseball game—or “jetball,” as the show calls it; the sport is repeatedly teased on retro-perfect radio broadcasts—after a disappointing day of sales. It’s a wholesome setting that looks just like an old-timey night out at the ballpark, except for little sci-fi touches, like popcorn that pops itself in its sleek little container as you’re holding it.
The Brightside Lunar Residences community is described as being on the “Sea of Serenity,” and there’s a sense of wonder and opportunity that envelops the idea of buying your dream home (complete with jacuzzi!) and starting a fantastic new life many, many miles away from Earth. Jack and his team’s sales pitch amplifies this idea, with a jazzy presentation (including a cameo from the star of TV’s beloved Space Sheriff) that hawks not just homes, but the promise of guaranteed happiness. It sounds too good to be true, but their customers eat it up anyway, explaining a lot about the context and mindset at play here.
The scene-stealing actor (Silver Linings Playbook, Animal Kingdom, Bird Box, The Disaster Artist) works her magic in Hello Tomorrow! as Jack’s mother, Barbara. She’s especially feisty here, demanding access to the grandson she’s long been deprived of knowing, even though Jack hasn’t told Joey who he really is. Barbara is so far the only character who knows how slippery and untrustworthy Jack can be, and she’s fully prepared to call him out on it.
Jack concealing his true identity while urging Joey to join his sales team would be drama enough. even if the audience didn’t have some serious doubts about the product Jack is pushing. Nearly every important relationship in Hello Tomorrow! has a similar dynamic: someone is holding back some rather crucial information that is absolutely going to cause some major fallout in later episodes.
A second season of Severance, one of io9’s best shows of 2022, is on the way, but it won’t be streaming anytime soon. Fellow Apple TV+ production Hello Tomorrow! has enough similarities—workplace drama that’s doused in sci-fi; dynamic characters; a nail-biting mystery; striking art direction—to make it a worthy substitute while you’re waiting. Also, it’s entertaining as hell on its own terms. What’s stopping you?
The first three episodes of Hello Tomorrow! are now streaming on Apple TV+, with new episodes dropping Fridays.
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