The past few years in the U.S. has probably done more to convince people that the world isn’t a perfect place and that the future may not be brighter than anything else has in a long while.
Writers have had dark visions of the future for decades, and TV has adapted some classic stories to show variations of these bleak futures or alternate realities. TV has also brought us some original dystopian tales. I’m going to touch on 3 TV shows that I watched this year that fit this category.
The Man in the High Castle
I thought this season was exceptional. I spent a good chunk of it blubbering over a character who wasn’t even there. In this alternate reality with alternate realities, Germany won WWII, formed an uneasy alliance with the Japanese, and the former United States is split into 3 main parts; the Nazi-controlled East, the Japanese-controlled West and the Rocky Mountain States, aka the Neutral Zone. The core story follows characters primarily from the East and West, although the Neutral Zone is regularly visited. Of course, the East follows Nazi laws, including eugenics laws, and when a teenage boy from a prominent Nazi family discovers he has a genetic condition, his parents plot to send him to South America to save his life, but he turns himself in and is terminated. Let’s give it up for some amazing acting by Chelah Horsdal. In fact, her performance is comparable to Keri Russell’s in The Americans. Let’s hear it for the women who are fighting to maintain their composure while their world is coming apart. It’s like 7 degrees of acting. You have to be convincingly devastated and then convincingly restraining that devastation to act in a way that’s socially acceptable or necessary to save your life, and your devastation is compounded by anger and guilt because you can’t even properly grieve. I digress. This is a great show for many reasons, and I devoured season 3. Can’t wait to see where it’s all going in season 4.
This HBO show may be a few years old, but I didn’t get into it until this year. And then I couldn’t stop watching it. One day, a whole bunch of people just disappeared. Some said it was the rapture. Some said it was a punishment. Some said it was a gift. Some thought they were still alive. Others thought they were dead. Nobody knew.
And thus, chaos ensued. Cults were formed. People didn’t want to grieve, then did grieve, then felt guilty if they moved on with their lives. Whether they were trying to hold it together or not, everyone was a mess. And the premise? The ultimate answer to it all? It was just so simple, and the ultimate conclusion? Heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.
You knew it was coming, right? I was as addicted to season 2 as I had been to season 1. Offred’s pregnancy may spare her in the short term, but will it save her in the end, or will the loss of another child devastate her and destroy her? This is a quiet season that sneaks up on you in many respects. But the reception that the Waterford’s got in Canada? Priceless. (Because homosexuality is punishable by death in Gilead, in case you don’t watch the show.)
Advent Days 10, 9 & 8: Horror (It Comes at Night, Heredity, It & bonus, Castle Rock)
Advent Day 11: Barry
Advent Day 12: Salt
Advent Day 13: Blackkklansman
Advent Day 14: Dark
Advent Day 15: Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Advent Day 16: Terror is our Business: Dana Roberts’ Casebook of Horror
Advent Day 17: Freeze-Frame Revolution
Advent Day 18: Haunting of Hill House
Advent Day 19: Wind River
Advent Day 20: Letterkenny
Advent Day 21: Black Mirror
Advent Day 22: The Oddling Prince
Advent Day 23: The Americans
Advent Day 24: Fight Fascism
Advent Day 25: Bodyguard
Advent Day 26: Baskets
Advent Day 27: Literature