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Apple TV+'s 'Hello Tomorrow' Is Built On a Lie

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 24, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 24, 2023 |


Hello Tomorrow feels like a series that can’t miss. It’s a retrofuturistic series set in what looks like the space-age 1950s. Billy Crudup and Hank Azaria play salesmen, so the series — from Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen — has all the ingredients necessary for a steampunk Glengarry Glen Ross. Steampunk Glengarry Glen Ross basically writes itself!

Hello Tomorrow is decidedly not that, unfortunately. The problem with the series — like the problem that plagued the first season of I Love That For You — is that it’s built on a lie. Building a series around a lie leaves the writers with nowhere to go because the whole idea is to keep the lie hidden until the end and then the series is over or the season concludes and the writers have to plant another lie from which to work the next season.

Here, Crudup’s Jack Billings is selling timeshares on the moon — he’s selling the dream of a better life to poor schmucks down on their luck. He has a right-hand, Shirley (Haneefah Wood), two salesmen, Eddie (Hank Azaria) and Herb (Dewshane Williams), and a new recruit, Joey (Nicholas Podany).

There are two lies. The first is that Jack is actually Joey’s estranged father. He left his family when Joey was still a baby, and he returns here to recruit his son into his line of work while his ex-wife is conveniently in a coma. Joey doesn’t know that Jack is his father, and Jack’s plan is to win over Joey before revealing that he’s the guy who abandoned the family.

The second and bigger lie is that there are no timeshares on the moon. It’s a scam, only no one knows that, not even his salespeople, who believe they are selling the real thing. Jack keeps telling his customers that their rocket launch to the moon is being delayed while Jack waits for some miracle to save him from this house of cards that threatens to take his company down, ruin the lives of his salespeople, and torpedo his burgeoning relationship with his son.

Mostly it’s just Billy Crudup saying things like, “Don’t worry,” or “I’ll take care of it,” or “We’ll get you squared away.” Alison Pill plays a housewife who blows up her life to move into her moon timeshare, but when it doesn’t materialize, she makes it her mission to expose Jack as a fraud.

Given all that’s going on, it’s shocking how dull it is. It’s a half-hour series, but every episode feels like 45 minutes, and there’s no tension or suspense. Just stress. Jack builds one lie on top of another, he endangers the livelihoods of his trusting employees, and he defrauds schmoes already down on their luck, and we’re supposed to empathize with him because he’s charming and he’s being played by Billy Crudup. He’s basically Bernie Madoff, and there’s only one way the plot can unfold: The lie slowly unravels until everyone is clued into it and they all have to work within the lie.

For those who have already seen the first three episodes and were left wondering, “When will this get more interesting?” I watched the entire season so I could tell you. It doesn’t get interesting at all until the final moments, and that’s only because of what it sets up in the second season, which probably won’t happen and probably shouldn’t happen because the first season doesn’t otherwise provide any reason to continue watching.

Hello Tomorrow is currently streaming on Apple TV+.