A man is at the end of his tether. His life has fallen apart. The world today is filled with incredible technology, sci-fi marvels, but it’s not like he’s reaping the benefits. He has lost his job; his family wants nothing to do with him. All that work, a life’s work, has yielded nothing. He cries into a beer that his robot bartender doesn’t even bother to properly pour.
But then a man comes and stands next to him. A younger man. A man in a suit. He tells this crying man that he understands. The world is cruel, indifferent and unfair. But there is a way he can make the world work for him. There is a way to take this bizarre technological future they’re in and actually achieve happiness. Even get his daughter to talk to him again. And it goes to the moon.
This is the opening scene of Hello tomorrow!, a new Apple TV Plus show starring Billy Crudup. While Hello tomorrow! gussies herself up into a bright and shiny retro future,”The world asmeme come to life, until recently, similar scenes had been playing out in America for years. They took place in Discord chats and YouTube streams, mainstream publications, and countless celebrity-packed commercial breaks at every sporting event imaginable. Until crypto’s real-world pipe dream came crashing down.
The similarities between Jack (Crudup) and his plan to sell timeshares in the moon in a development called Brightside and crypto become more and more apparent as he works his way through every person he meets: his sales underlings (Hank Azaria, Haneefah Wood, and Dewshane Williams), the retired actor who stars in his pitches (Frankie Faison), and by the end of the first episode, his own son, Joey (Nicholas Podany).
There are elements of cons and cons from years gone by in Crudup’s performance, reminiscent of everything from Robert Preston’s iconic Harold Hill in The music man to the determined badger-like sales calls captured in Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin’s 1969 documentary Seller. On the surface, the last person he looks like is a crypto scammer like Sam Bankman-Fried. After all, crypto isn’t the first major scam in history, and sadly, it won’t be the last.
And yet, the easy comparison between Jack and Bankman-Fried is that they both had uniforms that gave them credibility, just mirror opposites of each other. Bankman-Fried, who is currently charged with bank fraud, commodities fraud, securities fraud, money laundering and campaign finance law violations, made it his mission to be the anti-lawsuit. Like Mark Zuckerberg before him, Bankman-Fried made a bold statement that he didn’t care what he looked like. Jack’s dress sense contrasts with that of the crypto brother: he is the turnout-and-grind brother. He makes such a show of being on top of the world – and beyond, with his fake lunar family – that it’s easy to imagine him giving sales tips on TikTok.
But the real genius of Hello tomorrow!, along with the strong cast and great outfits, is how Jack spreads his gospel with the investment of a true believer. Crudup’s face is a marvel to behold as he adapts to each new step in the reality of his own invention. The only thing that unnerves him is the sudden appearance of his son in his life, leaving him madly trying to win over a child who still doesn’t know who his father is.
That, and crazy customers working with regulators. Lester Costopoulos (Matthew Maher) and Myrtle Mayburn (Alison Pill) have what it takes to form a charming, queer couple who want to win for the rights of customers everywhere. Costopoulos has what it takes to be a dork again, but his focus on forms and rules keeps him on the straight and narrow. His best friend seems to be his hover bag, which is almost a pet. He’s like a less sexy, more awkward Paul Giamatti in Billions.
With cute sci-fi aesthetic that hides dark realities, Hello has found a clever way into a subject that has been discussed to death. They are already there multiple performances about Bankman-Fried in the pipeline “ripped from the headlines”, all of which will draw on bawdy tales from whiz kids and polycules. But for all their research, they will have a hard time matching the crypto-ish feel Hello do. The show asks viewers to believe in a world where technology is indistinguishable from magic, then asks how easy it would be to scam people in such a place. Doesn’t sound very foreign, does it?
The show has a great understanding of how romance scams can get, which makes the way it packs the punches all the more baffling, with executive producer and writer Stephen Falk narrating The Hollywood Reporter that in keeping with the sci-fi utopian nature of the setting, “we wanted to live in a world where” neither racism nor sexism existed. “The politics on the show are more about capitalism and the American dream than things like racism and sexism,” said Falk.
But the problem here is that you can’t separate things like “capitalism,” “the American dream,” and “racism.” Of course you could, but that would give you an extremely narrow conception of the capitalist American dream. Ground zero of that post-World War II dream was the suburbs. Those suburbs started with Levittown, Pennsylvania, and had white supremacy baked right into the leases; Levitt & Sons expressly would not sell homes to black families, and when a black family moved into a home in Levittown in 1957, they were routinely harassed. Not all suburbs had racism built in the same way, but Levittown cemented the lily white vision of the American dream.
And suburban dreams are all over Hello, including a particularly gruesome package drop in the first episode, “Your Brighter Tomorrow, Today.” What’s interesting about Falk’s quote is that Hello tomorrow! feels like it’s working on a commentary on racism after all. No one does more work for Brightside than Shirley (Wood), who runs the entire operation on a day-to-day basis. Like the others, she truly believes in life on the moon, but she teams up with Jack to make sure their operation really succeeds. She takes his sales pitches to heart and works day and night to find the right audience for their can’t be true deals. In other words, it’s easy to imagine Shirley taking the blame for Jack’s cheating. And whatever Jack’s personal feelings for Shirley may be, it’s hard to ignore the optics of the situation.
Racism is implicit Hello, and knowing that the show is actively cutting that reading feels like wasting a fantastic storytelling opportunity. It’s not that capitalism stopped being racist after Levittown. The crypto industry supported white supremacists, symbolized his black employeesAnd oversold his “digital rebellion” with the help of celebrities like Spike Lee And Steve Curry. crypto laundry seeking Black wallets to support a house of cards, much like how Jack looked up Shirley. The comparisons are there.
This shouldn’t take away from the performances Crudup and Wood give – they are the most dynamic pairing on the show. One is a walking nonsense, and the other has a great nonsense detector blinded by some lunar interference. The show is still a fascinating look at how a scam like crypto can feel as real as the moon in the sky and just as out of reach. Maybe if they get another season they’ll really start selling how the great American scams are all related.
The first five episodes of Hello tomorrow! streaming now on Apple TV Plus. New episodes are released every Friday.