You may think that the title is hyperbole, but it isn’t. I spend a considerable amount of time watching shows, and Mr. Robot just came out of nowhere with a truly mind-blowing first season. The show, produced and distributed by USA Networks, stars Rami Malek and is the cyber thriller we didn’t even know we needed, because the way Hollywood has been treating hacker culture has been superficial and unrealistic, to say in the least. No more visual cues on the screen that are meant for exposition to the audience, this show takes it to the top in terms of utilising anything cyber-related as intricate and compelling plot devices.
There is a LOT of Fight Club in this show. Not to spoil anything, but elements like the anarchistic tendencies of characters in the Fincher film are what the plot consists of, and this is a very good thing. It is not ripped off from that, it shares a similar atmosphere. They both have their protagonists bemoaning the world they live in when they are suddenly offered a way to completely change the world by destroying all record of debt in the world, thereby resetting the financial clock so to speak. As cool as the plot sounds, the show actually does a better job by centring its focus on the protagonist, Elliot Alderson, a sociopathic cyber security engineer by day and a sociopathic hacker club member by night, constantly agonising over the times he is forced to be around people. I would argue that it does a better job of conveying its thematic elements. Most self-proclaimed Fight Club lovers don’t appreciate its take on consumerism and its attempted justification for anarchy and only ever remember the primal masculine channeling of rage and inner demons to fight the shitty lives the men live in, surrounded by billion dollar corporations telling them what coffee to drink, what your body should look like to be acceptable to society, and to fit in their jeans, and much more. If you’ve seen Fight Club,
and if you haven’t, what are you doing with your life? you know that you loved the fight scenes and The Narrator speaking the way he did, and it worked well for what Fincher ultimately achieved with that film. What Mr. Robot does is it stays focused on the main plot it presents in the beginning throughout the show. It didn’t use/didn’t need to use a gigantic metaphor to put in all of its social commentary, as Fight Club did. Now, you can choose whichever method you prefer based on how you like it, but what I will say is that the execution is just damn near perfection. It builds up its climaxes and twists with nail-biting tension and manages to do so even though our protagonist is the epitome of an unreliable narrator. It also leaves us scratching our heads at the very end, quite similar to the way Kubrick’s The Shining did some time ago. Thinking about all popular current running shows today, I don’t think any of them could boast of having a debut season on basic cable as strong as this one. (Well, there’s HBO, but that counts as premium cable. They have a no ads type thing here is US. Not any way how it is back in India. Strange right?) I’m very excited for the prospects for the second season, just hoping that they can at the very least make it as good as the first season was.