We traditionally think of the apocalypse as a world-rending explosion, but the end of the world need not be so destructive. Rather, on a subjective level, it might mean different things to different people. In TV and in film there are countless examples of worlds coming to an end through personal tragedy.

For instance, in this year’s TV adaptation of the novel Parade’s End, aristocratic Christopher Tietjens comes to realise that his values of monogamy and chastity are falling out of fashion in World War I England. He must come to terms with the fact that his world is falling apart and move on.

The same could be said of Downton Abbey, where the insular decadence of the Crawley family is threatened with a more progressive world. This is not a traditional ‘end’, but a realisation that their current way of life will have to adapt if it is to survive. 2012’s films have also reflected this Darwinian trend.

Looper and The Hunger Games are all about dystopian worlds, where values of freedom, peace, or even a certain standard of living, have died out. So perhaps it is not always a case of the world having ended, but of it having moved on and of you having to adapt along with it.

Worlds end every day – it all depends on how you define the end of the world. For someone, it could be losing their job; for another it could be the realisation that their values are no longer relevant. Perhaps the most important thing is to learn to treat these endings as beginnings, another chapter in an ongoing story, because, despite our wishes,
nothing lasts forever.

Everything must end when the time is right, just like a TV series must when it has exhausted its potential. So the apocalypse may come, or it may not – that is unknown. But if the end is nigh, bring on the future – anything is possible. Imagining where it’ll take us is half the thrill.

Alex Nicholson

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