*I’ll avoid spoilers here*
They say that life imitates art, right? Well sometimes art imitates life too. That’s what we have going in the premiere season of Utopia from Gillian Flynn.
The main beats of the show mirrow its British predecessor: It begins with a group of fans obsessed with a comic book called Dystopia — an obscure one-off that seems to have hidden in its pages the secrets of a vast conspiracy theory behind every major catastrophe in recent history. Connecting over the internet, they learn something that compels them to finally meet in person for the first time: A sequel comic, Utopia, has been uncovered, and it’s for sale. Unfortunately for them, they’re not the only ones after it, and some of their competition is a little on the murder-y side.
When I started this show, I didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into, I watched no previews, read no primers, had no expectations. What I found is that this show will suffer due to the terrible timing and similarities it shares with our current world. The show starts with a warning: “This show is a work of fiction, not based on actual or current events.” To be clear, I don’t believe there is a cult comic that has predicted every world pandemic throughout modern history. It is interesting, however, to see it play out on the screen instead of living it in real life.
Our comic book reading, message board posting, never met in real life, main characters start their journey to FringeCon to purchase the newest edition of this cult favorite. Their goal, save the world and prevent the next SARS or Ebola. What they uncover, however, is more terrifying than they could have ever imagined.
We have to start with the performance turned in by Rainn Wilson. Good ole Dwight Schrute put on a damn show as untenured virology professor Michael Sterns. His comic relief is timely as much of this show centers on the cat and mouse chase of our comic book crew. His research is central to the development of the vaccine for the titular pandemic. Supported by the nerds and his wife, he finds the confidence needed to put his skills to the test.
On the other side we have John Cusack as Pharma CEO Dr. Kevin Christie, who turns out to be the big bad pulling the strings of this convoluted conspiracy. He seems harmless enough but as the series finale closes, he reveals his true intentions. This may be a hot take but Christie is one of those villians who make you think, “You know what, I see where he’s coming from and understand why he’s doing this” Not to say I’d do exactly what he was doing but you’ll see after watching.
How can I forget about our windbreaker-wearin henchman, Arby. For whatever reason, he loves raisens and hates sideburns. He is the cat in our cat and mouse chase. Christopher Denham plays our emotionless lieutenant to perfection. Tasked to find the recently sold comic and bring it back to Christie, Arby leaves a greusome trail of bodies behind him.
The proverbial rabbit hole is as vast as it is deep and this series continues to keep the audience guessing until the very last episode. Dispite the dystopian and fantastical nature of the show, there is quite a bit of comedy to keep the audience on their toes and a somewhat satisfying end to hold us over until season 2.
Since I dont abide by the Juice Meter, and think that ranking shows on a 100 point scale seems tedious, here’s how I’m going to rank my shows going forward. 3 options: “Don’t bother”, “watch it”, or “Must see TV”.
Utopia: Watch it
Until next time