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When quarantined in your house, in the middle of a pandemic, looking for something to watch, you could go in two vastly different directions. You might want to find something uplifting and optimistic to take your mind off the world outside for a little while. Or you could lean into the existential dread of it all. In the second case, Utopia is a great choice. The premise is based around a group of comic book fans who discover that the events depicted in a comic book, also called Utopia, are all coming true and leading to an apocalypse due to — wait for it — a global flu pandemic.
Before you go accusing the show of pandering to the current zeitgeist, it’s worth pointing out that this is a long-in-gestation remake of a British show that first debuted in the UK back in 2013. It’s an eerie case of art imitating life, but it’s not all doom and gloom. The show is filled with the same dark humor and stylish visuals that earned its predecessor critical acclaim, though fine-tuned for American sensibilities by showrunner Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Sharp Objects). Flynn has described her approach to the show as “The Goonies meets Marathon Man.”
Besides the relevancy of the show’s premise and pedigree of the source material, the involvement of Flynn as well as the nostalgic appeal of John Cusack (in his first ongoing TV role) and The Office‘s Rainn Wilson are major draws. The conspiracy and thriller elements keep the audience guessing, but it’s also comforting to know that the answers to the mysteries at its core have already been sorted out by the writers before the first episode even begins and, assuming it stays true to the British version, all will be revealed by the end.
This one is another cross-generational watchalbeit rated for 16 and older.