A person is at the top of his rope. His life has fallen apart. The world is crammed with incredible technology lately, wonders out of science fiction, nevertheless it’s not like he’s reaping any of the advantages. He’s lost his job; his family doesn’t want anything to do with him. All that work, a life’s work, has amounted to nothing. He’s crying right into a beer that his robot bartender can’t even trouble to pour right.
But then a person sidles up next to him. A younger man. A person in a suit. He tells this crying man that he understands. The world is cruel, uncaring, and unfair. But there’s a way he could make the world work for him. There’s a option to take this bizarre technological future they find themselves in and truly achieve happiness. Get his daughter to consult with him again, even. And it’s moving to the moon.
That is the opening scene of Hello Tomorrow!, a recent Apple TV Plus show starring Billy Crudup. While Hello Tomorrow! gussies itself up in a vibrant and glossy retrofuture, “The World If” meme come to life, up until recently, similar scenes have been happening in America for years. They were happening in Discord chats and YouTube streams, mainstream publications and countless ad breaks crammed with celebrities in every sporting event possible. Until the real-world pipe dream of crypto collapsed.
The similarities between Jack (Crudup) and his scheme for selling lunar timeshares in a development called Brightside and crypto develop into an increasing number of apparent as he cons his way through all and sundry he meets: His sales subordinates (Hank Azaria, Haneefah Wood, and Dewshane Williams), the retired actor who stars in his pitches (Frankie Faison), and by the primary episode’s end, his own son, Joey (Nicholas Podany).
There are elements of scammers and hustlers of years passed by in Crudup’s performance, which calls to mind the whole lot from Robert Preston’s iconic Harold Hill in The Music Man to the determined badgerlike sales calls captured in Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin’s 1969 documentary Salesman. At first glance, the last person he resembles is a crypto scammer like Sam Bankman-Fried. In any case, crypto’s not the primary big scam in history, and it sadly won’t be the last.
And yet, the simple comparison between Jack and Bankman-Fried is that they each had uniforms that gave them credibility, just mirror opposites of one another. Bankman-Fried, who’s currently facing charges of wire fraud, commodities fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance law violations, made it his mission to be the anti-suit. Like Mark Zuckerberg before him, Bankman-Fried made a daring statement about not caring about what he looked like. Jack’s sartorial sense contrasts with that of the crypto bro: He’s the rise-and-grind bro. He makes such a show of being on top of the world — and beyond it, together with his fake lunar family — that it’s easy to assume him offering sales tips about TikTok.
But the true genius of Hello Tomorrow!, together with the strong forged and great outfits, is how Jack spreads his gospel with the investment of a real believer. Crudup’s face is a marvel to behold as he adjusts to every recent step in the fact of his own invention. The one thing throwing him off his game is the sudden appearance of his son in his life, which has him spending like crazy attempting to win over a baby who still doesn’t know who his dad is.
That, and screwed-over customers working with regulators. Lester Costopoulos (Matthew Maher) and Myrtle Mayburn (Alison Pill) have the makings of a captivating odd couple trying to strike a win for purchasers’ rights in all places. Costopoulos has all of the makings of one more sucker, but his concentrate on forms and regulations keeps him on the straight and narrow. His best friend appears to be his hover-briefcase, which is sort of a pet. He’s like a less sexy, more awkward Paul Giamatti in Billions.
With cutesy sci-fi aesthetics that hide darker realities, Hello has found a clever way right into a topic that’s been discussed to death. There are already multiple shows about Bankman-Fried within the “ripped from the headlines” pipeline, all of which can pull from salacious stories of whiz kids and polycules. But for all their research, they’ll be hard-pressed to match the sensation of crypto like Hello does. The show asks viewers to consider in a world where technology is indistinguishable from magic, after which asks how easy it might be to scam people in a spot like that. Doesn’t sound terribly foreign, does it?
The show has a powerful understanding of how romantic scams can develop into, which makes the way in which it pulls its punches all of the more bewildering, with executive producer and author Stephen Falk telling The Hollywood Reporter that consistent with sci-fi utopian nature of the setting, “we desired to live in a world where” neither racism or sexism existed. “The politics within the show are more about capitalism and the American dream than about things like racism and sexism,” Falk said.
But the issue here is that you would be able to’t separate things like “capitalism,” “the American dream,” and “racism” from one another. Sure, you can do this, but you find yourself with an especially limited conception of the capitalist American dream. Ground zero of that post-World War II dream was the suburbs. Those suburbs began with Levittown, Pennsylvania, and had white supremacy baked right into the leases; Levitt & Sons explicitly wouldn’t sell homes to Black families, and when a Black family did move right into a Levittown home in 1957, they were routinely harassed. Not all suburbs had racism inbuilt in the identical way, but Levittown cemented the vision of the American dream as lily-white.
And suburban dreams are throughout Hello, including a very gruesome package drop-off in the primary episode, “Your Brighter Tomorrow, Today.” What’s interesting about Falk’s quote is that Hello Tomorrow! looks like it’s working toward a commentary on racism anyway. No one does more work for Brightside than Shirley (Wood), who manages the whole operation on a day-to-day basis. Just like the others, she’s a real believer in moon living, but works with Jack on ensuring their operation actually succeeds. She takes his sales pitches to heart, working day and night to seek out the appropriate audiences for his or her so-good-it-can’t-be-true deals. It’s easy to assume Shirley taking the autumn for Jack’s con, in other words. And whatever Jack’s personal feelings toward Shirley, it’s hard to disregard the optics of the situation.
The racism is implicit on Hello, and knowing that the show is actively cutting off that reading looks like wasting a improbable storytelling opportunity. It’s not like capitalism stopped being racist after Levittown. The crypto industry propped up white supremacists, tokenized its Black employees, and oversold its “digital insurrection” with the assistance of celebrities like Spike Lee and Steph Curry. Crypto was in search of Black wallets to prop up a house of cards, identical to how Jack sought out Shirley. The comparisons are right there.
None of this could take away from the performances Crudup and Wood are putting in — they’re probably the most dynamic pairing of the show. One’s a walking bullshitter, and the opposite has an excellent bullshit detector that’s been blinded by some lunar interference. The show remains to be an enchanting take a look at how a scam like crypto can feel as real because the moon within the sky and just as out of reach. Possibly in the event that they get one other season, they’ll start to actually sell how the good American scams are all related.
The primary five episodes of Hello Tomorrow! are actually streaming on Apple TV Plus. Latest episodes drop every Friday.