Humans the Best Science Fiction Show of 2017
Humans by Gemma Chan is a marvelous show with a realistic approach as to how we would handle a future with synthetic humanoids. Chan takes it a step further by introducing these synthetics which were created to have true consciousness. The opening scenes with credits give you a visual history of how far we’ve come to create robotic servants to help us to mass produce, replicate, and construct things on a wide scale. It demonstrates the advances bringing from robots with no outward appearance we can bond with to the human-like robots created in Japan. Chan identifies a world several leaps beyond what we have today. In this world, people have synthetics to raise their children, do the grocery shopping, drive, babysit elderly and keep people company (even intimately). Synthetics have even replace some of the lower entry level jobs such as telemarketing/phone tree/customer support.
The show is beautifully adapted to show the point of view of what a creation made of synthetic matter would experience if it truly had consciousness. This show is worth a watch if you enjoy cause and effect simulations, especially on a global scale. There’s also the fact this takes place in London, England, United Kingdom.
This Sci-Fi Show is Not on NetFlix or HBO, it’s on Amazon Prime
After viewing the first 3 eps of the series, it’s not hyperbole to say Humans is probably the best terrestrial science fiction currently on the small screen. While not a new idea, the way it’s presented here leaves you wondering why showrunners haven’t given us androids in precisely this manner previously. Adapted from Sweden’s Äkta människor (Real Humans), Humans is an English remake for the UK’s Channel 4 (and AMC in the States).
The Plot of Amazon Prime TV Show “Humans”
Synths are androids that have become commonplace in the fabric of society. They are put to work doing exactly what you would imagine: numerous types of labor in the public and private sectors, and performing domestic roles like housekeeping, childcare, and eldercare. And of course, what would humanity be without android sex workers?
Humans presents basically two intersecting plots. One involves a half-dozen renegade Synth fugitives who are not limited in ways that all other Synths are: mainly, they aren’t restricted by Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. Leo, their leader, is trying to get them all back together, although it is unclear from the outset how different their motives are to those of Roy, Pris, Leon, and Zhora in Blade Runner. Niska (Emily Berrington) is the Pris of the bunch, the unfortunate one who was placed in a brothel, which may as well have been a very unpleasant prison and understandably leads to her becoming acutely misanthropic. The renegade Synths are pursued by Hobb (Danny Webb), a Deckard of sorts who perhaps isn’t intent on terminating them. Eventually the Special Technologies Task Force catches on, putting the fugitives in greater peril. [footnote for Blade Runner fans: Humans isn’t anything approaching BR, I’ve only made the comparison for the sake of convenience]
The other plot involves a family’s interaction with a Synth: they purchase “Anita” (Gemma Chan), who is known as Mia by the fugitive renegades. Laura (Katherine Parkinson) is the mom who doesn’t like dad’s purchase of the android and, along with the eldest daughter, doesn’t trust Anita. However, the son and especially the youngest daughter adore Anita, for very different reasons (the son is struck by a major crush on her).
There’s also a plotline centered around William Hurt’s character, but as of ep 3 it hasn’t converged with the others (surely it will).
Actors in Amazon Prime TV Show “Humans”
William Hurt: this ain’t his first time at the rodeo. In the 2001 Steven Spielberg film A.I. – Artificial Intelligence, Hurt was Professor Allen Hobby, a creator of Mecha robots. Mr. Hurt is an acquired taste for many, but it’s hard to argue with either his decades of performing or his portrayal in Humans of Dr. George Millican, a retired robot engineer (sound familiar?)
Colin Morgan as Leo: probably best known for his role as Merlin in the 5 seasons of BBC’s Merlin (2008-2012), it’s pleasing to see Colin in a new role that may [hopefully] carry multiple seasons. Leo is a being who seems more cyborg than android (we don’t yet know the details).
Gemma Chan as Anita/Mia: it is no coincidence that an actress with a doll face was cast for the part of an android. She is by no means the only devastatingly beautiful AI robot; Synths seem to be attractive by default. Gemma is also stunning in her portrayal of a Synth… she must have practiced for hours in front of a mirror to come off as a robot. Perfect casting choice.
Katherine Parkinson: many will know her from the geek sitcom The IT Crowd. I like her a bunch, but if you’re a huge fan of IT Crowd and have watched all those eps more than once, it’s difficult to wrap your brain around her being in a serious role.
Musings on Amazon Prime TV show “Humans”
Normally when you say an actor is robotic, it isn’t a compliment. Not so here. A few of the cast excel with their movements and facial expressions (or rather, lack thereof), fantastically coming across as “not quite human.” This is in contrast to the prototypical series (Sweden’s “Real Humans”), in which not as much care was taken to make this distinction.
Small details in Humans can add much to the story, such as the father (in very human fashion) shooting a glance at Anita’s robotic ass as they leave the android dealer after purchasing her (you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out where that plotline will eventually go).
The androids can elicit empathy/sympathy from the audience. Even (or especially) the femme fatale Niska, because we can understand how no filter (no drug abuse, etc.) to take the mind away from mandatory 24/7 sex work could make anyone a homicidal misandrist.
As is usually the case with artificial intelligences, philosophical and ethical dilemmas are in the forefront here… not only AI rights, but also: what happens to humans when they relate to androids more than they relate to other humans (and is it necessarily a bad thing)?
Lots going on here, and I’m already keeping my fingers crossed for a season 2 of this well-executed concept. UPDATE: It’s been renewed for a 2nd season, so feel free to get attached to the characters.