Will Children Save Us at the End of the World? – The Gentleman Report
There is the novel “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel, published in 2014, which explores the aftermath of a swine flu outbreak. This novel was later adapted into a highly talked-about HBO Max series in 2021. The story revolves around an 8-year-old girl who manages to survive with the assistance of a stranger who becomes her surrogate parent. Another example is “The Last of Us,” an HBO video game adaptation that premiered in January. It features a pandemic caused by a zombie-fungus, and a teenage girl who appears to be immune becomes humanity’s last hope. Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel “Leave the World Behind,” soon to be made into a movie, portrays a disastrous vacation of a bourgeois family, with an underlying sense of an impending apocalypse. Also falling into this category are the ongoing series “Yellowjackets” (2021-present), where a girls’ soccer team resorts to cannibalism after a plane crash, and “Class of ’07” (2023), where a school reunion coincides with a climate catastrophe. Additionally, the 2019 Icelandic movie “Woman at War,” newly available on Netflix, depicts a renegade activist’s attempt to halt environmental destruction and adopt a child.
These narratives explore the possibility of our children’s survival amidst the chaos we have left behind. They raise questions about the sacrifices they may have to make in order to endure. In “Station Eleven,” the post-pans (children born after the pandemic) serve both as symbols of hope and as manipulated killers enlisted by a self-proclaimed prophet seeking to erase any reminders of past trauma. Similarly, in “The Last of Us,” Ellie, the young girl with potential immunity (portrayed by Bella Ramsey), is compelled to take lives in order to stay alive. She must also confront whether it is worth sacrificing her own life in the quest for a cure.
There’s “Station Eleven,” the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel about the aftermath of a swine flu, which was turned into a much-discussed 2021 HBO Max series, in which an 8-year-old girl manages to survive with the help of a stranger turned surrogate parent. “The Last of Us,” HBO’s video game adaptation, which debuted in January, features a zombie-fungus pandemic; a seemingly immune teenage girl is humanity’s one hope. “Leave the World Behind,” Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel — soon to be a movie — about a bourgeois family vacation gone very bad, features a vague but menacing threat of apocalypse. Also loosely belonging to this category are the shows “Yellowjackets” (2021-present) — a girls’ soccer team turns to cannibalism after a plane crash — and “Class of ’07” (2023) — a school reunion coincides with a climate apocalypse — and the new-to-Netflix 2019 Icelandic movie “Woman at War” (a renegade activist tries to stop the destruction of the environment and adopt a child).
These stories are, in various ways, about how and whether our children can survive the mess that we’ve left them — and what it will cost them to do so. In “Station Eleven,” post-pans (children who were born after the pandemic) are both beacons of optimism and conscripted killers deployed by a self-styled prophet who hopes to erase anyone who holds on to the trauma of the past. And in “The Last of Us,” Ellie, the young girl with possible immunity (played by the actor Bella Ramsey), is forced to kill to survive, and to grapple with whether it’s worth sacrificing her own life in the search for a cure.