A new six-part miniseries premiering this week on HBO posits that Donald Trump will launch a nuclear missile at a disputed Chinese island in the final days of his second term.
This attack, according to this show -- titled “Years and Years” -- will take place in 2024. Never mind that the final days of Trump’s second term (if there is to be one), will be in mid-January 2025, not in 2024. Oh, well, this is a British-made series, which means its writers and producers might not have a handle on when U.S. presidents exit and enter the White House.
Donald Trump is many things, of course, and his behavior, statements and tweets lead many to believe he possesses a reckless temperament. And maybe he does.
But this HBO series, with its final-days nuclear missile launch, happens to come just days after the real Trump halted a planned attack on Iran, against the urgings of advisers and military officials, because he wished to avoid causing casualties estimated at around 150 Iranian deaths.
In light of this real-life event, this fictional scenario concocted for this “Years and Years” miniseries does not exactly hold water.
At another point in the series, the action takes place after Trump has left office, with Vice President Mike Pence being elected in 2024 as Trump's successor. In the show, the characters indicate that it is widely assumed that Trump, although no longer in office, still wields power from behind the scenes as a sinister Pence puppeteer.
All of this Trump paranoia in “Years and Years” manifests itself in the population of the United Kingdom, from whose point of view this futuristic tale is told. The show takes place in England, centered mainly on the members of an extended, modern, diverse, middle-class British family.
The show attempts to portray our modern world just a few years into the future.
This approach renders the changes taking place and taking hold in the decade of the 2020s familiar to those of us watching this show in 2019 because these changes are already evolving here in the real world.
One of the show's fundamental flaws lies in its English-centric point of view. In the show, the great powers that are engaged in global economic and military conflict are the United States and China.
England, as it has been ever since the sun set on the British Empire, is a bit player largely on the sidelines, even if British society is inevitably affected by this Sino-American war.
The lives of ordinary people are being upended. And into the breach comes a populist candidate for prime minister named Vivienne Rook (played by Emma Thompson, pictured above) who is depicted predictably as a candidate in the Trump mold who has an uncanny ability to communicate and connect with the ordinary people who feel more and more alienated in a changing world.
It is in its examination of this world that “Years and Years” succeeds best. One character in the premiere episode delivers a soliloquy that many can identify with -- in Great Britain or anywhere.
“It is like that Rook woman said,” says this character, addressing family members and the newly born nephew he holds in his arms. “Things were OK a few years ago before 2008. You remember. Back then, we used to think politics was boring. …”
“Those were the days,” interjects one of the relatives, his brother.
“And now, I worry about everything,” continues the new uncle. “I don't know what to worry about first! Never mind the government. It's the sodden banks. They terrify me. And it's not even them. It's the companies -- the brands, the corporations -- they treat us like algorithms while they go around poisoning the air and the temperature and the brain.
“And don't even start me on ISIS. And now we've got America. I never thought I would be scared of America in a million years, but we've got fake news and false facts. I don't even know what's true anymore! What sort of world are we in?”
Clearly, “Years and Years” takes on quite a bit in the space of a mere six episodes. It covers so much contemporary ground that it may have benefited from resisting the temptation to position fear of a Trump planet so prominently on the list of issues the series' characters are contending with.
As obsessed as many people are with Trump, his presence in our lives is only temporary. The many problems and issues of the near future will arrive whether he is here or not.
“Years and Years” premieres Monday (June 24) at 9 p.m. Eastern on HBO.