Depending on who you are, that headline will either inspire joy or sheer dread. As for myself, I honestly have no clue what to expect. Fallout on TV could be so many things that I’m not even sure expectations should exist.
At surface level, Fallout looks like yet another apocalypse setting where we already have enough of them. The games take place hundreds of years after a nuclear war that decimated America and show humanity rebuilding society. The first games start off wild and local, with town-sized factions and gangs emerging to carve a place among the variety of nuclear mutations roaming the wasteland, and later games in the timeline feature full-scale new nations battling for control of entire regions of what used to be America. Been there, done that.
What makes Fallout interesting is the heavy futuristic sci-fi influence, as well humor and satire aimed at lambasting 1950s American culture. How can that humor translate to TV? Can it? Will this show even try? I have no idea, and so I have no idea what to expect. Will they treat the anti-Chinese propaganda and American exceptionalism with its intended satire or play it straight? Will they focus on the War to make political statements relevant to the current political climate? Will they try too hard to be funny, miss it entirely, or nail the mood perfectly? When will the series take place in the timeline? How will they use the Vaults?
Then you have all the questions typical of any apocalypse setting, such as the use of brutal, human persecution, suffering, and death to drive the story’s drama. Fallout is a bit of a mixed bag in this regard, with much of the worst violence tending to come across in an exaggerated way that blunts the awfulness. Would a show miss this aspect of it and instead deliver heavy, constant doses of offensive content? Can a show possibly treat violence the way the games do? Will this one focus too much on the understated horribleness occurring throughout the world, such as the Vault experiments?
We probably won’t know the answer to these questions anytime soon. Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy have a lot on their plate at the moment, so who knows when they would get to a Fallout series. For all we know, this one won’t ever come to pass. I hope it does, just because I need to know what a Fallout TV show might look like.