Once in a while a show comes along that slips under my radar, leaving me late to a party everyone else has been enjoying for ages. Breaking Bad, Firefly, Prison Break. There are others. But my number 1 show this year so far is hacker thriller ‘Mr Robot’.
The show charts the turbulent life of Elliot – a cyber security specialist by day, vigilante hacker by night – as he’s approached by Anonymous-a-like hacker collective fSociety, who plan to lay waste to the future of the world’s biggest and most controlling company, E Corp (or Evil Corp, as Elliot – and thus we – always hear) by encrypting their debt records beyond recovery, throwing away the key and destroying any backups; a move that isn’t the most original goal for a TV hacker group, but it by far the most realistic and ambitious.
What begins as a 21st Century critique of mass media, home computing and cultural anti-heroics rapidly spirals into a damning, terrifying exploration of the human mind, of depression and anxiety, of loneliness and of the blurred line between modern good and evil. Word is the series began life as a movie but the themes needed space to breathe. Making this a series (which was recommissioned for a second run before the first had even hit the airwaves) gives the characters the room they need to develop properly. It’s a triumphant series with unrivalled cinematography and enough twists and turns to keep us all in a state of bewildered, fevered joy and confusion. Plus, there’s not a single “3D Tron-like internal user interface with borderline AI” in sight – this is the most realistic portrayal of real-life hacking I’ve ever seen on screen.
If you haven’t seen the show, its first series is available now on Amazon Instant Video in its entirety. If the themes are your cup of tea then you will not be disappointed. Stick with it through its somewhat personal and challenging middle as the feeling of despondency and banality (which I admit I almost condemned the series for) are entirely and devastatingly relevant and necessary. Watch this show! Every performance shines – especially Christian Slater as the leader of the effervescent fSociety and Rami Malek as Elliot. Eyes open, too, for a startlingly refreshing guest appearance by Jurassic World’s very own mad dino-scientist, BD Wong.
I devoured this series in a week, but I agree with my mate Rob (who recommended it to me) that watching it over a month would offer a harder-hitting experience. Binging is great, but this one has such perfectly orchestrated pacing that I almost wanted to watch one a week in the style of “normal TV”. On finishing the series I wanted – still want – to talk and talk and talk about it, to unpick its many intricate mysteries and expand on the theories I’ve already formulated about “its future”. I may very well write a spoilery, in-depth examination of the show in the near future. If I do, be sure to have seen the show before reading, as some of the twists are huge.
Mr Robot. Every bit as good as ‘they’ keep telling you it is. Watch.