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Given that I’ve always liked Twilight Zone inspired sci-fi / spec-fi, and this is billed as an anthology along those lines, it seemed worth my time to give it a try. Spoilers for the first three episodes below.

"The National Anthem" – Someone kidnaps the Princess of England and demands the PM fuck a pig on live TV. As an American I found the idea that the government would even consider giving in to the demand absurd: I’ve lived my adult life under a series of regimes who wouldn’t offer a terrorist human rights, much less whatever they asked for. As an internet-savvy millennial, I’m not entirely sure why they’re treating bestiality as this monstrous, unthinkable thing. (In the grand scheme of crimes, it’s a sexual-assault-by-proxy and some animal cruelty. I think “give me guns so I can kill a lot of people” would actually be a much worse demand, but nobody would blink at that.) On a related note, the PM’s wife is a terrible person, and by which I mean a terribly-written person. Does she think her husband somehow betrayed her personally by giving in to terrorist demands? “Choosing” to enter into a non-consensual sexual situation because of coercion is still, in fact, being forced into a non-consensual sexual situation. …Okay, so yeah, that’s an accurate portrayal of reactions to a rape victim. I take it back.

"Fifteen Million Merits" – People who live in 24/7 media boxes and pedal for “merits” can try to escape the system by going on the American Idol analogue. A man tries to get a girl he likes a chance as a singer; she ends up a porn star instead. He tries to fight the system and just ends up deeper in the rabbit hole. I tend to get irked by shows that invent an economic system without actually thinking it through. So, okay, let’s let the physics of people generating electricity on exercycles go by for a minute (hint: if your people have to consume food, it doesn’t work): They basically pedal while watching YouTube all day. And they earn credits by pedaling and also for brushing their teeth and other things? And they pay for food, skipping ads, and buying fake stuff in-app. Okay…what? Do they also have to pay for premium TV, like the porn channels? Because otherwise, what the heck are the ads for? If people aren’t buying anything (and it’s not like we see many ads for in-app cool hats), then there’s no point of ads. Really, I get the hamster-in-a-wheel, bread-and-circuses idea here, but they clearly didn’t think through the worldbuilding. (Also, if not for the fact that the girl was apparently drugged with “cuppliance” before agreeing to be a porn star…it’s not actually that bad a deal? I mean, if your other choice is riding an exercycle to live in 30 square feet and watch commercials, sex work doesn’t seem so terrible.)

"The Entire History of You" – In a world where everyone gets an implant that stores all of their memories and can be rewatched at will (or casted to nearby monitors), a man goes batty because he thinks his wife is cheating on him. This one fell squarely in the category of, “the tech didn’t cause this; you were just an asshole.” The tech assisted him in finding the clues, but I’m reminded of what a PI told a friend of my mom’s years ago: “If you think he’s cheating on you enough to want to hire me, he is. I can charge you and go get pictures if you want proof, but I’ll tell you right now that she’s younger than you, blonder than you, and has bigger boobs.” I think they could have come up with a far better framing story; perhaps one that was hidden in the margins about employer or airport screening and the complete loss of personal privacy.

Overall: Intriguing ideas, less-than-perfect execution. I’ll probably watch some of seasons 2 and 3, but I may skip around based on recommendations, rather than watching them all.


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