What if you had depression during the apocalypse? What if you had to spend the apocalypse with your high-school classmates? What if both of these things happened at the exact same time? That’s the fate of characters in the new Amazon Prime series Class of ’07, a wickedly funny and emotional look at relationships, confronting past trauma, and figuring out who you are now while living in the same place you did as a teenager.
There need to be more apocalypse comedies in general, and this series is Exhibit A. It’s based on a deceptively simple idea that combines two of the worst things imaginable: the world suddenly flooding and your high school reunion. When Zoe (Emily Browning), who has been off the grid post-dating show failed, realizes that something strange is happening, she flees for higher ground. That higher ground is her all-girls high school hosting their 10-year reunion. Zoe tries to warn them but gets caught up in the party and reconnects with old friend Amelia (Megan Smart) as the entire continent of Australia slowly submerges. In the morning, they have to face the music – or, more aptly, the giant ocean that they are now smack in the middle of.
We get the standard survival drama — rationing food, digging toilets, making electricity — but it’s all filtered through the drama and bad memories of reuniting with the people you lived within the “awkward years.” Old feelings are dragged up, like the teacher’s pet Genevieve’s (Claire Lovering) embarrassing nickname and, most prominently, Zoe and Amelia’s falling out. It takes a while to get all of the answers. Still, it’s so interesting how the two go from having a genial, surface-level conversation at the reunion’s start to expressing their deep-seated feelings of betrayal towards one another. The flashback scenes in this series are excellent, seamlessly blending past and present to show how close these memories are to the surface.
Zoe and Amelia’s frosty friendship isn’t the only baggage these women carry. Former mean girl Saskia (Caitlin Stasey) gets pushed back into her cruel ways when Amelia plainly tells her that to survive, “We need a bitch.” She pours herself into creating the world’s worst spin class to generate power and taking extreme measures to ensure the group’s survival while dealing with her own traumatic memories of her time in school. Stasey can switch on a dime from a cold, confident stare to a sob. She’s as believable when she’s blackmailing someone as when she’s giving Teresa (Sana’a Shaik) hope that her IVF embryos are still alive somewhere.
All of these characters are so human — and so, so funny. The hilarious pair Megan and Tegan (Chi Nguyen and Bernie Van Tiel) try anything to get high. Poor “Forgotten Laura” (Rose Flanagan), whose face adorns a memorial bench, turns out not to be dead but is still forgotten repeatedly. My favorite might be poor Renee (Emma Horn), who picked the worst possible time to lie that she was a doctor and not actually a nail technician. However, she is up to the challenge, trying her best and finding friendship with business buff Phoebe (Steph Tisdell). And that’s not even mentioning American exchange student Sandy (Sarah Krndija)! It’s refreshing that a show with this many players can make them so distinctive, and that’s all thanks to the actors and writers.
The series isn’t perfect – characters will make up in one episode and then go back to hating each other in the next. At times I felt irritated at how characters were misconstruing situations, namely Zoe’s “failure” to tell the group about the flooding (first of all, she did, and also, how was she to know that the entire continent would be underwater in a few hours?). To be fair, this could have been a sign of the characters’ irrationality, but it made for a frustrating watch. It just didn’t feel realistic. Especially since the show managed to use this similar framing to a much less irritating effect and get laughs, this arc stood out as a weak spot.
I also wish that there was a more nuanced resolution to Saskia’s experiences at school. There’s a conversation in which a character basically talks about punishing students for being the object of affection of their professors in order to protect them, and the moment goes by without much further criticism. Based on the show’s willingness to confront bad decisions made in the past and its female-centric perspective, this was a miss.
However, this is all saved by the nuanced portrayal of depression and medication in the series. Smart delicately plays Amelia’s struggle to keep trying in a way that shows just how deep the character’s pain goes. It’s hard to think about having the hope to continue in an apocalypse, even if your brain isn’t chemically compelled to think so. The series explores the fear of running out of medication and being stuck with the person that remains.
But this is a hopeful story.
In Class of 07, hell is other people, but others can also help you escape hell.
With a satisfying ending setting up future seasons, Class of ’07 has me hoping we get to spend more time with these ladies (and the utterly fantastic needle drops throughout the series). Also, if anyone knows where I can get one of those electric blue drinks that they have at the reunion, let me know. It looks like adult Kool-Aid, and I want to try it.