Here and Now premieres February 11th, 9pm on HBO.
By Keith Noakes
Don’t Tim Robbins, Holly Hunter, and Alan Ball seem like a great combination for a HBO series?
For as long as television has been around, there have been family dramas. But family dynamics have drastically changed over the last 20 years. The new series Here and Now reflects this new era, never feeling like a novelty. The story follows a married couple named Greg (Tim Robbins) and Audrey Bayer (Holly Hunter) and their mixed family of three adopted children and one biological daughter.
The first episode plays out the way you would expect, introducing all the characters by giving us just enough for us to get a decent understanding of all of them, yet leaving a lot more beneath the surface that will surely be unveiled over the course of the season. In the premiere, all the characters prepare for Greg’s 60th birthday party. Once all the parents and children are under one roof again, cracks begin to form their seemingly “progressive” family.
Ramon (Daniel Zovatto), currently a college student, was adopted by Greg and Audrey from Columbia. He also recently came out as gay. He was close with his sister, and the Bayer’s biological daughter, Kristen (Sosie Bacon), who suffered from self-esteem issues, feeling ordinary in comparison to her siblings. Duc (Raymond Lee), another adoptee from Vietnam, is a ‘motivational architect’, focusing on the here and now (the idea of “here and now” coincidentally comes up a few times in the episode). Ashley (Jerrika Hinton), another adoptee from Liberia, owns a fashion website and ie unhappy with her marriage to Malcolm (Joe Williamson).
Greg, a philosophy professor, is depressed with his marriage and had lost faith in the world because of the way he believed it was going. Despite this, he’s still proud of his marriage to Audrey, a therapist who likes to use her background when dealing with the different personalities within her family. The character that gets the most focus early on is Ramon. An outburst at the party leads to him being taken to a therapist named Dr. Farid Shokrani (Peter Macdissi) woth whom he shares a mysterious connection.
The cast is great across the board, with Robbins and Hunter being the obvious standouts. All the other actors are great as well, especially Zovatto. This kind of show succeeds or fails depending on the likability and relatability of the characters. Thanks to the strong writing and performances, all the characters are compelling to watch. The mixed family aspect of the story manages to feel like more than just a gimmick.
Overall, this is a good start for Here and Now. I’m looking forward to watching more.
I give Here and Now a B+.