Mr. Robot just finished its first summer season run on USA Network to critical praise and the creation of some diehard fans.
USA Network isn’t usually the place you go to find tense, dark, thriller TV but they certainly picked the right first offering in Mr. Robot.
Mr. Robot focuses on Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a young cyber security programmer with a host of social anxiety issues who takes illicit morphine to medicate the pain of his loneliness and whose only means of showing compassion for the people in his life is to hack their online lives and the people they come in contact with and occasionally taking it upon himself to right the wrongs done by the “bad” people of the world. Then Elliot gets caught up in hacktivist group, Fsociety, run by a character known as Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) who convinces him to take part in their plans to redistribute the wealth of the world’s corporations back to the people.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) September 3, 2015
Seems simple enough, but there’s something more going on under the surface of Mr. Robot, and the central mystery lies in the people — are they really who they seem to be, especially Elliot. How much can you trust what’s on the surface of a person? An infinitely interesting source of story but why, specifically, should you watch Mr. Robot?
Make no mistake, Mr. Robot, is not a happy show that you’ll walk away from feeling better about yourself and the world. The series is dark and exists on many levels — you could watch it and simply take in the drama of it but you’ll have to work at that as it constantly dares you to go deeper.
In the pilot episode, Elliot goes to see his psychologist, and she asks him what it is about society that upsets him.
“Oh, I don’t know… is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man, even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children? Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit? The world itself’s just one big hoax. Spamming each other with our burning commentary bullsh**, masquerading this insight — our social media faking this intimacy. Or is it that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things — our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new, we all know why we do this, not because The Hunger Games books make us happy, but because we want to be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend, because we’re cowards. F*** society.”
This little monologue takes a scathing look at our fascination with our online lives and the material things we build our existence on but what’s interesting in the story is that Elliot, as a socially inept character, could never say this to another human being so it’s all in his head.
Rami Malek As Lead Character, Elliot Alderson
Playing a socially inept character with a vibrant and judgmental inner monologue makes it difficult to connect with the audience in any way that’s not just simply offputting, but Malek manages to find a way for the audience to not only understand the character but care about him, even though he may be doing things that members of the audience would never consider doing themselves.
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) September 3, 2015
In an interview about Mr. Robot with Buzzfeed, Malek talked about his take on Elliot’s character.
“I have to remind myself always that it’s a tightrope with [Elliot]. One episode, you probably want to kill him. And the next episode, I’m sure you feel for this guy. My hope is that the audience comes together with Elliot to try to get him back to reality in some way. I understand that it is hard to watch someone’s perspective that is, at certain moments, not real. Or a figment of his imagination. But that’s the ride you’re on with him — so I guess you gotta take it or leave it.”
There’s a moment in the Mr. Robot pilot when Elliot’s overwhelmed with sadness and alone, and it’s heartbreaking.
Mr. Robot Messes With Your Head, In The Best Possible Way
Mr. Robot has those many different levels and it uses them to throw twists and turns the audience’s way as often as possible and even when it might be slightly obvious what’s coming the story will merely use that as a stepping stone to something else.
Mr. Robot‘s creator and executive producer, Sam Esmail, originally pictured Mr. Robot as a movie where the big reveal at the end of the first season would have happened in the first 20 minutes of the movie, making the story more about what your character does after the big curve ball has been thrown.
Thankfully, Mr. Robot received a renewal at USA Network shortly after it started it’s premiere season. Meaning that as interesting and exciting as Mr. Robot‘s first season was, the second season’s really going to get into the meat of Esmail’s vision and that’s going to be something to see.
Take a look at the trailer and stream Mr. Robot online.
[Image courtesy USA Network via TV Calendar]