Intersections of Art and Science

‘Extrapolations’ is the climate TV show we’re finally ready for – the Grist

Image from AppleTV's new climate TV show, Extrapolations, via Youtube.
Image from AppleTV's new climate TV show, Extrapolations, via Youtube.

Apple TV’s sprawling series depicts the “messy middle” of climate change.

If Hollywood has the power to shape our collective imagination for good, it has too often failed when it comes to compelling stories about climate. But that untapped power is part of what makes Extrapolations, the new Apple TV+ series being touted as the biggest-budget scripted TV show ever made about global warming, so intriguing. 

Despite its unflinching focus on the existential crisis of our times, Extrapolations resists the temptation to dwell exclusively on end-of-the-world narratives. The series manages to fold the requisite wildfires and epic storms into a more complex narrative of a society that hasn’t hasn’t evaded climate catastrophe but hasn’t ended, either.

“There has been so much storytelling done around the post-apocalyptic, denuded world,” said producer and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns. “But before we get to that end, there’s a lot of messy middle.”

With the help of an absurdly star-studded cast — Meryl Streep, Kit Harington, Daveed Diggs, Sienna Miller, Gemma Chan and Marion Cotillard are less than half of the big names involved — the eight-episode series sets out to imagine what life on our warming planet might look like in the very near future using interconnected vignettes that take place everywhere from Mumbai to Miami.

“[Screenwriters] have this role to play in helping us understand these watershed moments,” Burns said, “and obviously, climate change is the big existential crisis of our time…”


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