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Despite the fact that it’s set in alternate reality where human-looking androids known as Synthetics (Synths for short) do the lion’s share of menial labor, you would be hard-pressed to find a more realistic, relevant series than AMC’s new sci-fi drama, Humans.
Tired of the time crunch that comes from being part of a two-career family, Joe Hawkins (Tom Goodman-Hill) decides to purchase a Synth named Anita (Gemma Chan). From the outset, his wife, Laura (Katherine Parkinson), takes this as a criticism of her mothering and housekeeping skills. She feels further threatened when her youngest daughter starts to prefer Anita’s ministrations to her own. Her family may think she’s crazy, but Laura is certain that Anita is developing an emotional attachment to the Hawkins children as well.
The way the plot unfolds from there is thrilling, yet never rushed. As is usually the case with science fiction, one or two logical leaps go unexplained, like why every Synth must have an anatomically accurate body and why they must be stunningly attractive. (Wouldn’t most moms prefer their nanny models look more Angela Lansbury than Angelina Jolie?) But for the most part, characters’ reactions and the implementation of Synth technology into modern society feel completely natural.
Of course a teenage girl would worry what the future holds when robots do most of the jobs she would have once aspired to. Of course a teenage boy would feel tempted by the lifelike woman in the next room. Given the tsunami of pornography the internet has unleashed, it would be strange if the show didn’t address the immoral potential of Synths. It could have done so in less explicit terms, but the two sex scenes in the first four episodes of Humans feature no nudity and feel more ugly and shameful than titillating.
Along with an engrossing mystery about renegade Synths and a blue-collar backlash against android innovation, Humans also taps into timely fears about governments limiting our freedoms. As William Hurt’s character says to a National Healthcare Synth who refuses him his favorite foods, “You’re not a carer, you’re a jailer.”