To many people, Avan Jogia and Kelli Berglund will always be the plucky young teens from Nickelodeon's Victorious and Disney XD's Lab Rats, respectively. While both Jogia and Berglund have done plenty of work outside these two series (most notably, Jogia starred in the short-lived Freeform drama Twisted and Berglund headlined Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors), they're still largely associated with those early roles, even all these years later.
But that may all change come Sunday, when the duo's new series, Now Apocalypse, debuts on Starz. A mix of a Los Angeles coming-of-age story and a trippy alien conspiracy, Gregg Araki's half-hour comedy is a bold, sex-positive examination of millennial malaise and modern relationships that is a far cry from the more wholesome work Jogia and Berglund's careers were first built on.
"There's obviously a huge difference, but it doesn't really feel any different," Jogia told TV Guide. "It's just bumming around with another fun cast of great people."
The series stars Jogia as Ulysses, an aimless, queer stoner who isn't sure if the visions he's having of a reptilian alien invasion are real or if he's just really, really high. Berglund plays Uly's best friend Carly, an aspiring actress who makes rent by being a cam girl, catering to the whims of her clients, which can range from domination and humiliation to urinating in front of them.
The series is wonderfully forward in its portrayal of sex, both in how it's filmed and in how the characters approach and discuss it. But both Jogia and Berglund are well aware that Now Apocalypse's boundary-pushing storytelling may alienate some of their fans from the Disney and Nick days. "With this show, especially, it's a lot to handle," Berglund said, "so I think it will definitely have that effect on people. But I think the people who appreciate it or appreciate you or the show is what matters."
For his part, Jogia sees this as a positive development and a means to develop a fandom that is more reflective of who he is now, rather than who he was when he started Victorious a decade ago. "If you're just pursuing and following the career you actually like, the career that you want to do, your fan base becomes more purely people who actually mess with you as an artist," Jogia explained.
"I think people, too, forget that we're human and we all grow up," added Berglund. "But to people, to the world, I'm still 16."
"People want you to not change, because if you change, they remember that they've changed," Jogia said. "It's nostalgia. So if we grow up, they have to go, 'Oh wait, I'm growing up.'"
Funnily enough, not being ready to grow up may be one thing these Victorious and Lab Rats fans may actually have in common with Jogia and Berglund's new characters. Who knows? Maybe this show will actually be a way to create some common ground.
Now Apocalypse premieres Sunday at 9/8c on Starz.