Westworld (Season 1)

T: Every once in awhile, I’ll come across something entirely new and immersive that completely and totally revolutionizes my existence. Goobers peanut-butter and jelly; bra’s with built-in-pockets; microchipping – all of these things force me to look at normal, everyday things in entirely new ways.

Westworld is now a part of this list.

Never has there been a show that has completely forced me to reevaluate my own consciousness, thought-processes, and/or creative capacity. This show, even now – weeks after the final episode –  forces me (on the daily) to pose existential debates within myself; demanding answers to questions unknown and answers incomprehensible. But here’s the thing: the questions posed by and in this show have opened my ways of thinking I never thought imaginable. Evolved my writing in ways I could have never predicted. Forced me to see the ways in which my own conditioning exists and face the ultimate question: will I continue to allow it? Or will I prevail?

Did I mention that this was a show? On HBO? Not some philosophical text or new-age development. But a show – with Hannibal Lecter and the guy who played Beetee from Hunger Games and that cute redhead once engaged to Marilyn Manson and the poor sap that Allie didn’t pick in The Notebook.

Oh, but it is so much more than that.

Part science-fiction, part existentialism – its cerebral premise teeters on the beautiful, delicate line between the imaginary and the painfully realistic. It delves into the depths of our wildest imaginations, and yet pours the silvery liquid that can only originate from experience and wisdom. It designs a dialogue that demands questions like: “What does it mean to be human?” “What is the difference between living and existing?” “At what point should I empathize with another thing – human or not?”

But what is amazing about this show is that despite how fresh it seems – and it does – it is reliant upon ancient texts – Shakespeare, the Bible, Freud, Huxley – they are all interwoven within this revolutionary show. Proving, once again, as time wears on – we change not at all and have yet to truly learn anything.

This is one that I will talk your ear off about (ask literally anyone around me) and so to keep myself from ranting and raving, I’ll simply encourage you to watch the best show on television now – nee’ – ever. It is visually stunning, viscerally rewarding, and visionary in all the ways we need right now.

RV: Thanks to Westworld, science fiction has finally grown up. I’m looking at you Star Wars, Star Trek, anything on Syfy. My favorite genre of fiction in high school was science fiction, but Asimov and Bradbury didn’t use the science fiction setting to just tell another hero’s journey….(See: Star Wars vs. King Arthur). Asimov, in particular, liked to really envision not just our current dilemmas in a futuristic setting but also the ethical dilemmas that future technology would create. Asimov created rules the laws of robotics and then showed just how far the rules could be potentially tested (Check out I, Robot and not the crappy Will Smith movie).Famous authors have already shown how deep science fiction can make us think, so why is Westworld, one of the few television shows to mirror just that. I know some people are going to raise their hands and say “Wait a minute…(blank show) has had episodes like that!”. That is true. I mean Twilight Zone set the bar pretty high with some classics like “Monsters Are Due at Maple Street”; however, too often science fiction movies and shows still rely on lazy McGuffins and a retelling of traditional stories just done in a sci-fi setting. Case in point, Star Wars could have been easily set in 1500s, 1900s, or even Biblical times. The setting really doesn’t affect the theme of good vs. evil or even the plot rebels vs the Empire.  Now shows and movies like Star Trek throw heavy science at us, but it’s just Deus Ex Machina. They don’t want the audience to think about the science or whether it makes a lick of sense. They just need the audience to nod their heads, so they can resurrect Leonard Nimoy without question.

Now to my point of why Westworld is perhaps the best and most underrated show on television. Some of you might scoff at this notion because you watched the first few episodes or read an initial review, writing the show off as a failure of hype. Anytime a show gets labeled as the next (fill-in-blank with Sopranos, Lost, Walking Dead, Friends, Game of Thrones, etc.) I usually have my doubts too. However, if a show is actually going to live up to a predecessor’s established success then they would have to start their own separate category for television shows (See: Frazier and not Joey). Even though Frazier was supposed to be Cheers 2.0, it’s success came from the fact that it wasn’t the same show at all. Both shows had very different story telling structures and style of characters. If you don’t believe me, just see the many write-ups of how different Cheers‘ Frazier is from Frazier’s Frazier. Again, Frazier is not Cheers 2.0. It’s a brand new category. I love Parks and Recreation. Yet, when Parks and Rec was created, it was billed as The Office 2.o. It wasn’t and that was a good thing. Back to my original point, I think Westworld was unfairly billed as Game of Thrones: Space. I read the early reviews, and I think initial perception was that it was too slow after the initial episode (which is funny because Game of Thrones was originally reviewed as being too slow for first half of the season). Westworld is not Game of Thrones at all. That’s like saying Tolkien is pretty much the same as Huxley. Westworld doesn’t ignore its sci-fi roots. In fact, its setting is the show’s main character, the theme park, and by the end that setting will make you question your own preconceived notions of humanity. Without giving too much a way, I will promise you that if you watch the entire first season, you will be rewarded with storytelling at its finest.

5 Twizzlers –  These violent delights may have violent ends, but damn does it make good television. 

5 Red Vines – It’s a brave new world.

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