February 12, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere TV Review: “Here and Now”


HERE AND NOW:  Sunday 9PM on HBO – In the Queue

HERE AND NOW is sort of the Alan Ball/HBO version of The Fosters, which means that its characters are a generation older, it has a lot of sex, a lot of talk, and a lot of angst, and there’s a mystical “mystery” element.

The pilot, written and directed by Ball, is mostly about scene-setting.  In Portland, Oregon, Greg (Tim Robbins) and Audrey (Holly Hunter), married for 35 years, prepare to gather for Greg’s 60th birthday party with their blended family.  Their trio of adopted children includes Ashley (Jerrika Hinton) from Liberia, Duc (Raymond Lee) from Vietnam, and Ramon (Daniel Lovatto) from Colombia; they also have a younger biological daughter Kristen (Sosie Bacon).  Each child has issues:  Ashley, despite an apparently perfect marriage to Malcolm (Joe Williamson), likes to do coke and flirt heavily with young men; Duc is apparently virginal; Kristen has a variety of indie-film teen eccentricities (she spends much of the pilot wearing a horse-head mask) and mostly wants to get laid, which she does by the end of the pilot via Ashley’s boy-toy.  Ramon, for his part, who is gay, suddenly finds himself besieged by visions that may be hallucinations but are probably something more meaningful.  Meanwhile, Greg, when he’s not regularly visiting an escort, is deep into a depression that begins with the present occupant of the White House, while Audrey intrudes into everyone’s lives, in a way she considers loving but they consider obnoxious if not hurtful.

It’s difficult to tell from the early going what Ball wants us to take from all this.  Although there’s a political edge to Greg’s angst, and the show’s very title announces its intention to explore our current reality, Here and Now is far less forthright about politics than The Fosters, which has plunged straight into hot-button issues like DACA and trans rights, bravely if not always with subtlety.  Audrey’s reactions to Ramon’s visions turn her strident in a way that unfortunately recall Ball’s treatment of Annette Bening’s character in American Beauty.  The younger generation, although presented with sensitivity and good humor, has little depth so far.

Here and Now has a fine ensemble of actors, a sleek (if dawdling) pace and literate dialogue, and one hopes those will be well-used.  Hunter, in particular, is worth watching in just about anything, but her character and Robbins’s are already leaning toward caricature.  (Greg is so upset at the state of the world that he insists on wearing all black at his birthday party.)  The series hasn’t gotten the kind of push HBO reserves for its all-in bets, and that might mean the network has found less here than Here and Now‘s credentials and ambitions seem to promise.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."