Thanh and the End of the World

me in my reviewer era

Reviewing Carol and the End of the World

I watched CATEOTW (wowzers that acronym) when it first came out and just rewatched it again because I needed something calm and easy to sit through. That’s not something you often hear about an apocalyptic plot. Ever!

CATEOTW in a nutshell depicts life after the confirmation that a planet called Keppler 9C will destroy Earth in its collision. And life is… Calm.

An introspective apocalypse

The premise is extremely clever and spins the genre on its head by showing how life calmly moves on even after learning tragic news. When I went through losing a family member, the most shocking experience came from seeing how life moved on without skipping a beat. The world kept spinning. People kept going to work. And I followed the motions of my daily routine.

That’s what the introduction to the series is like. It’s unsettling. It’s quiet and contemplative. Yes, to most people, it’s almost painfully slow.

We see Carol internalizing this news in relation to herself, how she’s supposed to interact with her family, and what her purpose is. Within many classic pieces in this genre, we see the apocalypse pitting people against their environment and others. In CATEOTW, it’s a deeply intimate and private take.

Kindness as a rebellious act

Spoilers will be discussed from this point on!

Carol struggles to find her place in this reinvented world that’s changing faster than she can keep up with. She stumbles onto an office building where people have surprisingly chosen to work as the world is heading towards its end. The function of a job providing structure in the midst of personal turmoil is scarily familiar. All too often we hear people saying after suffering a bad breakup or losing a close one, they’ll throw themselves into work and push through.

When we are lost, it’s comforting to have somewhere to go and a role to take on with tasks to fulfill. In a sense, a job could be a place that allows you to have purpose and community instead of what it usually is on the other end of the spectrum.

By bringing banana bread, learning everybody’s name, and other charming gestures at work, Carol becomes corporate’s #1 enemy. CATEOTW shows the pitfall of losing your identity to your job and subscribing to hyperindividualism. Carol shows everybody a kinder, more empathetic way to work.

It’s always about hope

In a world where our media is more about franchises and quick editing to capture your attention, Carol offers a very meditative experience that is not for everybody. As an adult animated show, the style is frankly ugly sometimes, and not every character is likable. But UNLIKE other adult animated shows, the characters aren’t abrasive for the sake of being “adult” and it doesn’t beat you down after setting up the premise that life can be bleak. Carol is a middle-aged woman, shy and soft-spoken, who finally lives her life for the first time in the middle of the apocalypse. She makes new friends in a world where everybody is looking out for themselves.

It goes to show that it’s never too late for anyone.

You always have time to find your authentic self.