CLASS OF '09
Starring: Brian Tyree Henry, Kate Mara, Sepideh Moafi, Brian J. Smith, Jon Jon Briones, Brooke Smith, Jake McDorman, and Rosalind Eleazar
Creator: Tom Rob Smith
Despite Brian Tyree Henry’s best efforts, not even he can elevate Class of ‘09 to something worth watching. The biggest issue is that the central gimmick – following the main characters over three timelines, identified as “Past,” “Present,” and “Future” – is more confusing than compelling. There are random subplots, both explicit and implicit, that are underexplored, and outside of Tayo (Henry) and maybe Poet (Kate Mara), the characters are poorly developed. Once you realize it’s trying to explore the dangers of artificial intelligence, which it does shabbily, it starts to feel like a Minority Report rip-off. Ultimately, this is merely stunt storytelling with faulty execution.
While the ideas and concepts presented in Class of ‘09 are intriguing, the way they are implemented is a hot mess. With a more grounded approach, this show probably would have flowed a lot smoother. As it is, it’s too all over the place with the timeline jumps to convey a compelling story for these characters. While the actors give the best performances they can, the writing leaves them high and dry. The show tries to be Minority Report, examining what happens when our trust in technology goes too far, but it ends up being a very sloppily executed story that carries no momentum throughout.