The following article was produced in partnership with SBS On Demand.
It’s been eons since we slathered over a post-apocalyptic show. But War of the Worlds season 3, which is currently on SBS On Demand, has us pummelling our remotes for more.
Not only that, we’d argue it’s the best post-apocalyptic show since The Walking Dead. Big call? Don’t throw your Carl Grimes eye patch at our heads just yet: hear us out.
One of the biggest drawcards to The Walking Dead was the post-apocalyptic world it portrayed. The Walking Dead first aired in 2010. This was a time when the idea the world would end in 2012 (thanks to the end of the Mayan calendar) was still rattling around our collective psyche.
AMC took advantage of our doomsday perversion to create a show set in a post-apocalyptic world that had us hooked from the get-go. Throughout the series, the survivors faced countless zombies, human enemies, and even nuclear explosions. Themes included survivorship, leadership, corruption and togetherness. Incredible tension was also built by making the villains human-adjacent (and sometimes fully human). In other words: the show was scarily relatable.
By the same token, War of the Worlds makes its villains uncannily like humans (but not quite). These spider-like robots are truly terrifying, thanks to the alien flesh embedded in them, and the creepy way they communicate with each other (and some humans).
Without giving too much away, they aren’t as different to humans as we might think (with one character in season one even going as far as to justify their behaviour by saying it’s no different to what people have done in going to war).
The other reason The Walking Dead is so compelling is that it creates a Lord of the Flies kind of feeling that makes you wonder how you (and your family, neighbours and friends) would react if disaster stuck. Who would be the heroes? Who would be the villains? Who would thrive in a way they don’t in real life? Who would fall to pieces? The questions, for anyone super into the show, could keep you up all night.
War of the Worlds has this too, as the story follows various groups of survivors who team up after an extra-terrestrial strike births murderous, baby-stealing aliens on the planet. In season 3, a heart-racing new chapter of War of the Worlds, the battle between survivors and aliens hits a new stage, as yet another hair-raising phenomenon starts affecting people all over the world.
In much the same way The Walking Dead had us glued to our screens back in the 2010s, War of the Worlds is perfectly poised to make an impression on us in 2022. Not only have we been through a pandemic, which has taught us what it’s like for the world to radically change in our own lifetimes, but we’ve also seen a real roaring 20s, live for the moment, grasp-life-by-the-neck attitude to life engendered in many of us in the wake of COVID-restrictions loosening.
We’ve seen phenomena like revenge travelling, entrepreneurship and The Great Resignation boom, as both individuals and companies re-assess how they want to live their lives, what they want to reach for and where their priorities lie. In that respect, War of the Worlds season 3 is the ultimate ode to The Now – it perfectly captures and feeds into public sentiment in 2022.
War of the Worlds season 3 is the perfect combination of a series that plays on your fears, sparks your imagination and makes you interrogate what it means to be human when everything (whether in the real world or a fantasy one) feels like it’s falling apart. The writing and cinematography are both excellent too (it really knows how to build the tension).
Speaking of which, just as The Walking Dead writers occasionally went off script (resulting in some of the best moments of the show), War of the Worlds has struck an excellent balance between remaining true to H.G Wells’ classic science fiction novel (whose themes included family and loss, how people react to calamity, what it means to be human and how power can corrupt) and modernising the story for binge-hungry television audiences.
In War of the Worlds season 3, survivors must pull up their bootstraps, put their differences aside and focus on defeating a brand new enemy (thus ensuring the survival of humanity yet again). In this latest season, Gabriel Byrne (Hereditary, The Usual Suspects, Zero Zero Zero) and Léa Drucker (The Bureau) will be joined by new actors: Molly Windsor (Three Girls), Ernest Kingsley Junior (The Sandman) and Oliver Hembrough (The White Princess) making the show even more enjoyable to watch.
Is it really as good as The Walking Dead though? Check it out on SBS On Demand, and decide for yourself.