29 August 2018
HBO’s Here and Now: a whole lotta crazy
There’s nothing normal about HBO’s drama series Here And Now (2018-current; Season 1 can be streamed or downloaded from Showmax right here). Yes, there’s a mom and a dad and their kids are trying to make the world a better place, but if you scratch the surface, the theme of dysfunctionality and supernatural elements ooze out. “On face value it’s a drama series, but if you dig deeper, there are more things happening in the shadows,” warns series creator Alan Ball, who is also the mind behind vampire series True Blood (2008-2014, all seven seasons can be found on Showmax).
Meet the family
Ex-hippies and now (un)happily married Greg Boatwright (Tim Robbins) and Audrey Bayer (Holly Hunter) believe that they’re “progressive thinkers who adopted their children from the four corners of the world,” says Alan. Audrey is determined to make the mixed family dynamic work, while her husband Greg is more honest “believing it’s a big mess,” adds the show boss. However, this doesn’t mean the couple don’t love their three adopted kids: Ashley (Jerrika Hinton) adopted from Liberia; Duc (Raymond Lee) adopted from Vietnam; and Ramon (Daniel Zovatto) adopted from Colombia. Rounding off the patchy family is Gregg and Audrey’s only biological child Kristen (Sosie Bacon) who enjoys seeing the world through the eyes of the rubber horse mask that she walks around wearing.
“The past does exist and it haunts everyone”, warns Alan of the underlying eerie feeling in the series. Halfway into the first episode, viewers are treated an inkling that something isn’t quite right with the family. “It feels like there is something outside of me pushing me of balance,” says Ashley. And she isn’t the only one who feels that way! All of the adopted kids have flashbacks to their former childhood lives during the course of the 10-episode season, but the one who has the most frightening experience is Ramon. He has visions of a woman on a beach screaming his name then scratching her face in four lines (four 1s), a man in flames walking towards him, and masked people covered in ash walking around him. “The number 1111 pops up everywhere he looks,” says Daniel. Most of the time, it happens when the clock strikes 11:11. And he is trying to make sense of the crazy mess. “He believes that he has lost the plot, that he has a mental illness,” says the actor.
The real meaning
“Individuals who are continually contacted by the number 11:11 usually have some positive mission to accomplish – a mission that remains a mystery until genetically programmed sequences are activated within their DNA,” Ramon reads to his hunky boyfriend Henry (Andy Bean) over the phone. The 11:11 phenomenon was cleverly knitted into the story’s fabric “as it has a personal meaning to me,” admits Alan. “I had an experience where I felt like a force pushed me to look at a clock and it was 11:11. I went on the web and there is a tonne of stuff about people who believe that it is a message from the universe. Having had that experience, I thought why not write something where you just go with that.” He adds that “people who see things that the rest of us don’t throughout history have been treated in different ways. We tend to treat them now as people who are mentally ill, where that ‘needs to be medicated out of them’. In earlier times, they were seen as prophets and shamans and as being possessed by demons. I don’t think of it more as mystical and less as supernatural because it’s not that something is happening that everybody is subject to. It’s more what is going on in Roman’s perception.”
Ramon’s crazy visions and seizures would make anyone think that he needs to be shipped to a mental institution. However, Ramon might actually be a prophet of sorts to whom nobody is listening… and if they don’t listen, things might go boom in the end…