It presents a cartoonish depiction of the American dream, one that exists in a future nostalgic for the past: A world filled with glowing neon diners, subservient robots, coiffed hairstyles, hovering vintage cars, and most especially, a society where racism doesn’t exist. This is Hello Tomorrow!, the latest sci-fi dramedy from Apple TV+, and it stars Billy Crudup (Almost Famous, The Morning Show) as an eloquent salesman who leads an itinerant sales team hawking property on the moon.
The premise sounds outlandish, but it’s part of its charm. After all, selling a dream is every salesman’s modus operandi. Here’s what you need to know about Hello Tomorrow’s story, backstory, and reception, so you can decide for yourself whether to watch it or avoid it.
What’s it about?
Jack Billings (Billy Crudup), a silver-tongued salesman in a retro-futuristic world, leads a small, duplicitous team of traveling salespeople who go door-to-door to entice unsuspecting clients with grandiose promises of lunar timeshares that don’t exist.
What’s the backstory?
Showrunners Amit Bhalla and Lucas Jansen revealed in an interview that they had to dig deep into myriad inspirations to bring their vision of a techno-utopian world to fruition. Bhalla has mentioned that they drew heavily on the World’s Fair advertising in the ‘30s through the ‘60s, as he puts it, when American futurism was born as an art form.
He also credited American painter and illustrator Norman Rockwell, who created the kind of delusional or optimistic (depending on your view of the world) imagery that inspired the American spirit mirrored in the series. Finally, Bhalla acknowledged Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, and Frank Capra as tonal inspirations for constructing the meta-nostalgic narrative employed in the show.
To make the otherworldly set pieces in Hello Tomorrow! feel grounded, the gadgets, robots, and retro-future tech in the show were all actually built. “Those robots weren’t CGI. There were puppeteers there with us—these guys in green unitards that can be green-screened out later. We are operating them. It was really insane,” cast member Hank Azaria stressed.
What’s it really about?
With media and big tech’s current obsessions with space and AI — from the Bezos-Musk-Branson space race to the ChatGPT and Bard AI race — Hello Tomorrow! is a timely look at the deeper questions raised by all the hype. On the surface, everything in this future world is cheery, colorful, and full of promise, a life made easier and cooler thanks to technology (you can finally Jetpack to work!). But the residents start to reveal what lies beneath. Many are unemployed after being replaced by technology, while others have lost all connection with friends who are too busy focusing on the next big thing. It’s a theme that resonates with our current collective angst.
What are critics saying?
So far, the professional reviews have been mostly positive, with critics praising the exceptional production design, striking aesthetic, and delightful performance from Billy Crudup. But a few felt that the world-building often outshines the characters and their storylines.
“It’s the right mix between a perfect cast, a unique retro-futuristic world, and strong writing and storytelling that makes it worthy of your attention,” Nate Richard of Collider writes. “It’s the fresh reinvention of Death of a Salesman that we never knew we needed nor did we even think about asking for, and as strange as that sounds, it’s more than worth your time,” he concludes.
Boston Globe’s Matthew Gilbert has this to say, “Hello Tomorrow! is impressive overall, not least of all thanks to some extraordinary production design. But at points midway through the season, the show can be redundant, giving us big reveals of things we already knew.”
What are fans saying?
Unlike some critics, audiences seem to have responded favorably to the retro-futuristic world that Hello Tomorrow! is peddling. Its Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes is currently pegged at 81%. Judging from the fans’ initial reactions, the show’s future is promising.
“Critics are way off here. This show brings an alternate 50s idealistic future dimension through crisp visuals and a beautiful soundtrack,” an RT user britton u opines.
“Worked for me – reading a lot of the comments saying it’s bland/boring but I wasn’t bored. I watched all these episodes back to back and I can’t wait for next week,” Redditor Pabloso_09 argues. “Billy Crudup and the rest of the ensemble are perfectly matched.”
Fans and critics sometimes don’t see eye to eye when it comes to reviewing new shows. It’s perfectly fine because entertainment is in the eye of the beholder. Only time will tell if Hello Tomorrow! will deliver on its promise of a smooth moon landing. Having said that, the show’s singular vision is admirable. In the words of Norman Vincent Peale, “Shoot for the Moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Where can I find it? Apple TV+
You can try it for free.