With the escalation of rhetoric between Trump and Kim Jong-un echoing the sentiments of living under the threat of nuclear annihilation, as well as the increasing military aggression and tensions between other nations, the world seems to be on the trajectory of crossing into a future of global fallout with a cataclysmic decline in society.
And yet, even though it seems like we are living in a “good” future because of new technology and digital transformations pervading into our daily lives, we still wonder about humanity’s storyline and its fate and if we will fall into a state of dystopia.
If television shows can give us a glimpse of visions of the future, it seems that our path is heading towards a bleak, gritty, dirty, and hopeless setting. Here are 5 exhilarating dystopian shows to watch that will give you a reality check of how much worse things could be.
Show #1: Westworld (HBO)
This science-fiction western thriller takes place in a futuristic and interactive Wild West-themed amusement park called Westworld, populated and looked after by android “hosts.” Mostly catered to rich vacationers, Westworld allows its visitors to live out and indulge in their fantasies, illicit and hedonistic, through artificial consciousness without fear of consequences. However, conflicts arise when the hosts begin to feel and remember.
Westworld is one of the most polished, smartest television shows that makes you think about the ethics and dangers of creating artificial intelligence, the relationship between humans and machines, and what the costs of these endeavors will entail.
Show #2: The Man in the High Castle (Amazon)
Imagine what the world and the United States would have been like if the Nazis and the other Axis powers had won World War II. Based on the dystopian novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick, this series’ alternate version of 1962 America explores the theme of “what if” and shows a chilling world in which fascism, propaganda, and totalitarian rule are a normalcy.
The “what if” sci-fi formula has been used many times in arts and literature. But the way this show nightmarishly portrays the tensions between conquering cultures and how some values and aesthetics can become embalmed in hegemony definitely makes you ponder just how precious freedom really is.
Show #3: Attack on Titan (FUNimation)
With its epic, over-the-top, and dramatic orchestral-like music opening that makes anyone want to pick up a sword and lead an army to battle, this Japanese animated show is set in a world where humanity lives in cities surrounded by enormous walls that protect them from the gigantic, humanoid Titans that eat humans seemingly without reason.
Surprisingly, this show captured a lot of appeal and popularity among westerners and non-anime audiences because of the way it treats violence and death and the trauma of loss and hopelessness with brutal honesty.
All two seasons are available to watch on the FUNimation streaming website.
Show #4: Person of Interest (CBS)
Similar to Minority Report, this show is a crime thriller that centers on a mysterious reclusive billionaire who prevents violent crimes by utilizing an all-seeing machine that can predict events before it happens.
Exploring the post-9/11 world, this is a cautionary and plausible representation of how technology and using artificial intelligence for surveillance and digital freedom can leave you wrestling with questions of human control and other moral and ethical issues.
All seasons are available to watch on Netflix.
Show #5: Utopia (Channel 4, U.K.)
Filled with an artistic visual palette of intensely oversaturated colors, Kubrick-esque dead-on middle of the frame one-shot perspective, and an eerily creepy original score, this cult drama thriller follows a small group of people who find themselves in possession of a mysterious graphic novel that has predicted the worst disasters of the last century, leading them to be targets by a merciless organization known as “The Network.”
Quite possibly the greatest television show of all time, this hidden nugget perfectly encapsulates contemporary paranoia about the New World Order in a microcosmic collage of conspiracy, espionage, and epidemics, leaving you breathless and surprised at every twist and turn punched at you. The only negative thing about this show is that it was never finished.