If A Deer Sh*ts in the Woods
Hide and Seek
From Sun Up to Sun Down
On paper, Here and Now appears to be a progressive, forward thinking show complete with a smartly worked plot incorporating a diverse range of ethnicities wrapped up in a quirky, dysfunctional family unit. Unlike Modern Family and This Is Us that manage to nail this formula in a subtle and satisfying manner, Here and Now is loud, angry and bogged down with ham-fisted, contrived societal messages that make it really difficult to become invested in any of the opinionated characters. There are moments in Here and Now that evoke a keen sense of enthusiasm but much of this comes from a supernatural element surrounding a few of the characters that are genuinely interesting. The rest of the cast fall into tired cliched tropes and worse, have chunks of dialogue dedicated solely to driving their various societal messages home ruining any cleverness the show could have produced.
On the eve of his 60th birthday, Greg Boatwright (Tim Robbins) begins to question his own life’s mission to bring more empathy and equality into the world through his work as a philosopher. After adopting various children – one from Vietnam, Duc (Raymond Lee), one from Colombia, Ramon (Daniel Zovatto), and another from Somalia, Ashley (Jerrika Hinton) – alongside their own biological daughter Kristen (Sosie Bacon), the Boatwright family find themselves caught in increasingly challenging issues that test the foundation of their family unit. Most of this stems from a strange, supernatural element surrounding Ramon as he begins seeing the numbers 11: 11 everywhere. As the series progresses this is explored in more detail with both Ramon and his therapist, Dr. Farid (Peter Macdissi), slowly uncovering just what this means for them both and just why they have a psychic link between them.
With the cleverly introduced element of supernatural mystery, Here and Now thrives during these scenes but unfortunately the other elements of this family drama fall flat. Mum Audrey’s (Holly Hunter) incessant controlling nature grows tiresome quickly and is exacerbated when she becomes a focal point in a school drama involving a race crime. Her three children all have their own sub plots and problems that aren’t that interesting or exciting and all the while this sombre, moody tone never allows any of the characters to form a true connection with audiences as they glumly trudge from one scene to the next. The only character that really connects is Ramon who feels the most realistically depicted.
Props to Here and Now for at least trying to tell a story incorporating as many different walks of life as possible but the execution is messy at best, especially alongside titles like Modern Family and This Is Us that manage to effortlessly portray this in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Full of sex scenes and heavy-handed societal messages around acceptance, racism and sharing more empathy with everyone, Here and Now constantly parades its agenda as loud as it can, ignoring important characterisation and a consistently flowing storyline in the process. Instead of allowing this to flow naturally through the actions and subtle bites of dialogue from the characters, Here and Now regularly resorts to group discussions that are so unnaturally depicted it’s jarring to say the least. It’s such a shame too as the important themes brought up in Here and Now are certainly relevant for our time but Here and Now fails spectacularly to get across it’s message in a convincing way making it a disappointing family drama that fails to live up to its promising premise.
Verdict - 4.0/10