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The idea of uploading one’s subconscious “soul” to the cloud was the premise behind the greatest episode of the already stellar Black Mirror — “San Junipero.”
The concept is so compelling that geeks like myself hope for a day when we can see this as a reality. Imagine the possibilities: you could live forever in a virtual utopia.
That would be the dream, anyway. The reality? That’s what ‘Upload’ explores. A sci-fi comedy-drama from Greg Daniels (The Office), it takes us into the dark side of a digital afterlife in the ether … without taking itself too seriously (part of its charm). It deals with weighty issues and their moral implications but has humor and love behind it, and it leaves you feeling for the multidimensional characters who break from sci-fi tropes.
More than anything, Upload raises many questions about human nature while forcing you to ask, “Would I really want to live (virtually) forever?”
Upload sheds light on the nightmarish potential that could come from people being pressured into uploading their thoughts for others’ financial gain. People who are poor are relegated to prison-like afterlives, as they can’t afford the amenities of the utopia. Others end up imprisoned by earthly relationships they cannot break-off in the afterlife. It’s quite the rollercoaster. It will raise many philosophical and ethical questions in you, but there’s just the right amount of humor and lightness to make it enjoyable.
Best of all are the leads. Nora, an underpaid customer service agent for those who’ve been “uploaded,” may just be one of the most likable characters in any recent show. While she walks an ethical tight rope, you will forget about that when she smiles mysteriously and says something in the liberated way only she can say it. You will want to hate Nathan, the prototypical tech company founder, whose face screams “I was president of my frat during my time at Stanford.” But remember, this is a show that shies away from tropes. Sometimes there is more to being a cliché tool than being a tool.
Upload takes the idea of a digital afterlife utopia, makes it incredibly graspable, and shows how greedy corporations could turn that idea into a dystopia.
It raises big questions that will make you think– about human connection, about what happens when a living human falls in love with the subconscious of someone in an afterlife, about the moral fallout of the decisions we make.
But it also reveals how futuristic technology is not always the right answer. Humans and their compassion for one another is the only thing that can truly improve the world.
Everyone. Especially Scrooge McDucks, who can use the reminder of the importance of humanity in the here and now, as well as your loved ones who might appreciate the nudge to pay attention to the truly important things. Your sci-fi buddies and conspiracy theorists will also get a kick out of this.
You will go into it thinking (especially in the first episode), what a light, silly, predictable sci-fi show. Prepare to have your expectations far exceeded. This show is emotional, cautionary, and different from any other sci-fi comedy. Check your expectations at the door.