As more truly contemptible “reality programming” garbage appears on network television, stinking up living rooms near you, a few very interesting series do pop up (on cable). I can’t tell you how many people I know that simply don’t watch TV anymore, but this isn’t fair because if you look around, there are some really well written, expertly performed and magnificently produced series around.
One of the more interesting is the British-American series “Humans” (with the “A” upside down), currently appearing on the AMC channel (and available in sequence on the venerable Pirate Bay for torrent freaks).
The series debuted in June, 2015 for only eight episodes, but there promises to be more as the series has been well received by both critics and audiences on both sides of the pond. Renewal talks in progress right now.
The series is set in suburban London, taking place in the near future where a very useful addition for any busy family is a “synth” – an android eerily similar to a human in virtually every respect. The original creation by an MIT graduate scientist is meant to be pretty much devoid of any emotion, simply serving their families with a flat affect, doing virtually every kind of household chores, including driving the kids to school in the morning.
The “starring” Synth, “Anita” (London actress Gemma Chan) and her fellow synth actors were trained in a ‘synth school’ run by the show’s choreographer to rid themselves of any human physical gestures and become convincing in their roles. They are benignly creepy nearly to the point of being scary.
In time, there appears a hint that some of these androids are a little more intuitive than they’re supposed to be. It becomes apparent that Anita can do more than the laundry when the family’s husband discovers a patch that allows Anita to consummate sex, which he cheerfully indulges. Then of course, gets caught by his wife, whereupon a discussion occurs as to whether sex with a machine is the same kind of “cheating” as sex with another human. (Probably not a discussion you want to have with your wife).
Another intuitive synth informs Dr. Elster’s former partner (William Hurt) that she’s better than humans and lists the ways including no fear of death, whereupon Dr. Millican (Hurt) suggests that any creature without a fear of death doesn’t “live”, they only exist.
It turns out that their creator, MIT scientist Dr. David Elster, has surreptitiously endowed several of them with the ability to reason intuitively and pass for human in many ways. As these synths start to pop up in London causing trouble, it dawns on those involved that if machines can become as human as real humans, the entire fabric of society could be in danger.
The show’s creators try to show a potential for the consequences of unrestrained technology and how it could affect us in many ways we don’t think much about. We use iPhones continuously and rarely talk to each other now. The series explores interesting questions about how humanity would react to what amounts to extensions of an iPhone, a “singularity,” when machines are able to think and act on their own.
“Humans” is a variation on the theme of a previous film I reviewed that was equally interesting:
These creatures look and act like real humans but they wouldn’t be human in many very important ways. How would such creatures affect the development of human emotions such as empathy and social interaction if they evolved to simulate these features with near-perfect accuracy?
Unfortunately, there are only three more episodes left and it’s unclear whether the series will be continued. If you can find this series, probably on The Pirate Bay, I highly recommend it. I will take all eight episodes off the Pirate Bay when they all run and give them out on DVD to anyone with an interest.
I give it four of five deadpan glances from a spectacularly beautiful Asian woman. Very interesting series.