Warning: This interview contains spoilers for Apple TV+’s "Hello Tomorrow!"
We have liftoff! "Hello Tomorrow!" aired "What Could Be Better?," its thrilling season finale on April 7, 2023 and several plot cliffhangers were left percolating on the retro-futuristic nuclear-powered stove. The Brightside rocket is blazing a trail towards — well, it's streaking somewhere, with its droid crew and joyful passengers eager to relocate to their make-believe timeshares on the surface of the moon.
Creators Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen have crafted a marvelous ode to ingenuity and the promise of a brighter future in Apple TV+'s retro-styled series "Hello Tomorrow!" There's a hard-to-resist charm generated by their refreshing project and it would be a crime if Apple prematurely pulled the plug before another season plays out to let us see if there were any real lunar habitats up there all along.
This finely-tuned tribute to a very different post-war America proposes an alternate technological timeline where flying cars, jet packs, commercial robots and roaring rockets were commonplace and the spirit of optimism rang loud and clear. Amid this fictional pastel-colored landscape of Vistaville, a team of traveling salesmen led by seasoned huckster Jack Billings (Billy Crudup) attempts to sell phony moon condominiums to an innocent public yearning for meaning in their empty lives.
Space.com spoke with Bhalla and Jansen on their show's inspirations and influences, choosing the core performers, and what's in store for Jack and the gang if Apple greenlights a season two.
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"At the end of the day, Billy [Crudup] as the lead and as the number one sets the emotional tone and the expectations of the kind of commitment that's expected," says Bhalla on his incredible cast. "And I think most actors in their careers desperately hope for an opportunity to flex as hard as they can to do their best work in complicated scenes with other actors. They were rehearsing on weekends and you could feel their chemistry on set and they were a real joy to be around. And you don't know that's going to happen when you pick them as individuals."
For the show's concept, Bhalla and Jansen were interested in the ways Americans and consumers are sold promises by technology, by corporate America and by the consumer complex.
"They're told that the world is all going to be fine with the right vacuum, the right jet pack, or the car that hovers or doesn't hover," says Jansen. "And the gap between that unrealistic sales pitch that all your Earthly troubles will be wiped away by some ingenious new product and the inevitably painful lives we're all here to lead. All that fascinates us.
"So the show is set in a dream that never took place, something we were sold, something we were promised that turned out to be a whole bunch of smoke and mirrors. It seems as a culture, we're better at manufacturing promises and hopes than we are at getting down to the work of living together. That's why the show was set when and where it is in, in this impossible dream we never got."
"Hello Tomorrow!'s" soaring season finale offered fans a tangled web of connecting and fraying plot threads, requiring creative decisions to be made for all the moving narrative cogs and wheels.
"If you have a culture like ours that's incapable of conceiving its own failures, and an economy that's booming and juiced by artificial means, you get in a situation where you can be on the road to what you think is the promised land in that rocket, and in fact you're heading squarely to the gray unknown," Jansen adds. "And that was a condition we knew we wanted to build in the show. A group of people, both Jack and the salesmen, but also the customers, who are so juiced on the idea that everything is getting better all the time, that they can be literally rocketing to their doom and still feeling like this is their brighter tomorrow."
Bhalla admits that the actual lineup of who was or wasn't on the launching spaceship changed over time in the writer's room and that there were different combinations of who might be going up there with Sal, who was always going to be aboard the shiny Brightside rocket.
On the prospect of a second season, Bhalla and Jansen are reticent to say too much about what might be explored, but did offer a tease that they have completed a season two script that was ordered before the show came out, but that they're still waiting to hear about another season.
"Should we be so lucky to travel into a season two, you're going to have to find out what the moon is really like," explains Jansen. "How does what's up there and where they're headed live up to the promises that Jack has made? Certainly it's not what they're expecting, so there's tremendously fun drama to be played up there.
"Also, we're really looking forward to getting deeper into the story of Jack's emotional world, his relationship with his wife, the thoughts of his father and his family and what continues to shape him as he's walking this tightrope while juggling and spinning plates and keeping it all afloat."
"Hello Tomorrow!" is now airing all episodes of season one exclusively on Apple TV+.