Apocalypse Untreated is a frighteningly prescient and darkly comedic Audible original about a group of teens at an inpatient wilderness program who have to work together and try to adjust to a new world without their medications after an asteroid strikes the earth.
The series is sometimes fun, often dark, but always grounded and relatable. It’s shocking to find out that the cast recorded everything in February, before the apocalypse became all too real. Created by podcaster and famous bisexual Gaby Dunn (Bad With Money) and cowritten by Brittani Nichols (A Black Lady Sketch Show), the 19-part original series is available now on Audible.
The Advocate talked to several of the stars of this mostly queer and Black cast, as well as creator Dunn about the series. Chanel Ali stars as Indie, a young person who’s dad paid the inpatient program to kidnap her from her house in New York. Adam Faison plays Arlo, a suicidal young man, Jes Tom plays Dot, a lesbian who has PTSD from being sent to conversion therapy.
Dunn, who has bipolar disorder herself, said the story came from wanting to see the disorder portrayed accurately, something she hasn’t seen much of before. She says she watched the movie Midsommar, and when there was a throwaway line about a murderer having bipolar disorder, she was immediately taken out of the movie. “I think that made me go, ‘Oh, okay. So there's people out there who are going to see this and think that that's what bipolar is,’” she says, “And I had a little panic about that.”
She also was reading Esme Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias, and talked to friends and Twitter followers who had been in inpatient programs and have schizophrenia while writing the series. Bringing authenticity to the project was a top priority for her. She wanted others like her to see characters they could finally relate to.
Each of the actors also say they were drawn to their characters for personal reasons. Faison has a history of bipolar disorder in his family, Thom related to their character coming out at a young age, and Ali says she shared a similar upbringing to her character as well. She says that Indie’s reaction to the apocalypse is exactly what she’d do. “It felt like the type of freakout that I would have if I was in her situation,” she says.
Faison added that he’s proud to be part of a project that can hopefully change some people’s minds about people with mental illness. “It was refreshing to see the nuance, and I am excited to see more of it,” he says, “And hopefully it will influence more people to write about this taboo part of our society that everyone's so scared to talk about.”
Jes Tom, who’s character is a love interest to both Ali’s Indie and another character we meet later, said it was important for them to play a love interest as an Asian-American queer and nonbinary person.“It is a dream of mine to play a romantic lead in a project,” they told me, "getting to play a role that's literally a love and romance at the end of the world kind of story is so much fun for me.”
“Obviously, Gaby knew that the world was going to end, the rest of us are just catching up,” Ali says, “and I think it's dope to have such a vibrant cast of characters to leave the path to the new world.”
Check out this exciting, hilarious, and touching new series on Audible now.