I don’t watch a lot of British shows, but when I first heard of Humans I knew I had to check it out. The pilot aired in the UK and based on it alone, I can already tell it’s going to be one of my favorite new summer shows.
Based on the Swedish series, Humans takes place in a parallel present where robots (or Synths, as they are called here) are used everywhere to help make our lives easier. Or so the humans thought (enter dramatic music here). The show follows a family that adopted Anita (played with perfection by Gemma Chan), a highly developed Synth that’s far more intelligent than they could have anticipated, in the sense that she is a conscious Synth. In other words, she’s creepy and disturbing and is causing tension around the house.
The best thing about the show is that it doesn’t take place in the future. There are no flying cars or futuristic transparent iPhones (wouldn’t that be cool though?); instead, Humans makes it clear from the start that this is basically an alternate reality, or a near-future if you must. That theme alone is thought-provoking as it raises so many questions that we’re scared of answering right now, the most important one being whether man will lose against the machines someday. I have my bet on yes.
The first episode definitely gives a feeling of nostalgia, particularly to when we first heard of Terminator and I, Robot, and the show similarly dives for a creepy vibe. I can’t praise Chan enough for her perfect portrayal of Anita (although you begin to wonder if depicting a robot so accurately is good acting or bad), but sadly the rest of the cast felt too bland for my taste. The British family in particular bored me to death as their scenes were heavy on exposition and ticked me off just a bit. Those performances were overshadowed, luckily, by William Hurt who plays a widowed man who uses his synth to remember the memories he shared with his late wife. And there’s a third “conscious” synth who’s been turned into a sex toy. Sounds crowded, but it works here.
The way the three different storylines weave together at the end is what makes me optimistic about the future of the series. There’s still a whole bunch of stuff to figure out (character development and again, the acting) and I think a 2-hour premiere would have worked in the show’s favor as everything seemed rushed to get us to that ending and that final scene. The final scene which, while game-changing and perhaps too early, is cleverly plotted and sinister in a way that has me intrigued. This is definitely a show you must check out.
Bits & Synths
– Can I just mention how much I loved every single scene between the old widowed doctor and his synth? Almost made up for everything the Hawkins family did.
– “You’re just a stupid machine, aren’t you?” That, along with the “yes, Laura” reply, gave me the chills even though I am still very unsure of Katherine Parkinson as one of the show’s leads.
– Anita’s flashbacks were a little confusing, even after the credits started rolling. I’m not sure if those were actually flashbacks. It awfully seemed like she was “seeing” something that didn’t happen yet.
– The promos already gave away a significantly creepy scene at the kitchen table, but I still felt just as disturbed as the Hawkins did when Anita wouldn’t stop laughing. My goodness, I’ve seen that part like three times already.
– So, would you get one? A synth? Other than to help around the house, what would you use it for? Me, I’d like my synth to hit me every time I decide to miss the gym because an alarm on my phone doesn’t seem to do much.
The show is as stimulating and provocative as it appeared to be. And even though, for me, the actors seemed slightly miscast and the characters a bit insipid, there’s still so much potential for Humans to turn into one great, aspiring summer show.