Thanksgiving to mid-January is a tough time to be a television fan. All the shows tend to go on holiday break leaving you, the viewer, with very little to watch. There’s almost this feeling of abandonment. Why would you leave me (insert show title of your choice here)? I watch you. I talk about you. Come baaaaaaaaaccccckkkkk. Times like these is when I like to find something to binge and fill the void. Going to take my programs away, huh? Well I’m just going to discover something new to watch. That’ll learn ya.
For this holiday break I selected Mr. Robot as my filler show. On principal I don’t watch a lot of shows on the USA Network because, to me, they look a little cheese. There’s just something about them that just sits funny with me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they all have the same sort of lighting. All glossed over and USA Network looking. This probably makes no sense to you but I’m sitting here going… yeah spot on. When I saw the previews for Mr. Robot it instantly stood about because it’s lighting was far from glossy. It was dark and brooding, and looked dangerous. It looked like the bad boy of the USA Network, and aren’t we all a sucker for the “bad boy”?
[Question. If you don’t watch things on the USA Network how did you see previews for Mr. Robot? Well that’s easy random question in the middle of my column… I watch wrestling every Monday night #noshame]
Everything I had read about Mr. Robot was crazy positive, and I had been interested but never jumped aboard while it was airing during the summer. Let’s be honest, sometimes shows with Christian Slater have a tendency to scare us away (I saw both Broken Arrow and Hard Rain and I’m still waiting for those hours of my life back). Yet despite that the reviews were still positive and I totally got this darker Social Network vibe from it so I didn’t need much convincing.
Luckily all the episodes were available on demand so I didn’t have to tap into itunes at all. Take that Apple, I’m keeping my adult dollars! Yay more pop vinyls. Actually they’re making Mr. Robot pop vinyls at some point this year…I’m getting ahead of myself. I often worry about the commercials when watching on demand, but each episode only contained two at the most and they were uncensored episodes (yay cursing!). Needless to say the viewing was pretty fluid.
Right off the bat I was pretty impressed with the show. There was a sense that this could be an HBO show in a heartbeat, and that helped ignore the fact that this was USA. I loved the way it was shot, how immediately there was this dark, brooding sense of paranoia, and it felt heavy like there was something moving underneath the skin of the show. I was talking to my brother in-law after I had watched the first two episodes, and told him it was solid but worried it was going to make me paranoid about everything. And folks I’m paranoid by nature so I don’t think I could handle that.
Honestly speaking it took me about a week to watch the first five episodes, and New Years Day to watch the last five. Mr. Robot is one of those shows that wears on you, and would totally improve with a second viewing. Not that it was bad, not at all, but the second viewing would probably reveal things you missed the first time around. There are tons of call backs to The Social Network, Fight Club, and maybe some Danny Boyle like movies but less chaotic? Does that makes sense?
Pretty much everything about the show was fantastic, and this includes Christian Slater. I’m a big fan of darker stories, and there was no shortage here. The story provided was twisted, built tension that lead to a steam rolling ending. By the end of the sixth episode all bets are off and shit gets real. Real . Outside of Angela, I think the characterization was terrific. I didn’t really grasp her character arc, she had moments but she was all over the place. I’m curious to what the plans are for her character moving forward.
Without question the spotlight belongs to Elliot, played brilliantly by Rami Malek. From the get go we know that homeboy ain’t right, for starters he’s narrating the story and thinks of us as his invisible friend. That alone starts to set off some warning flares. Elliot comes across as delusional and that’s kind of fun because we’re seeing things through his perspective, we are imaginary after all, so it’s tough to see what is reality and what is part of Elliot’s paranoia and drug addiction. As the show dives deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, Malek turns it up. We really get a sense of how far he’s slipping and the effects the events are having on him. His performance is fantastic and he deserves to be nominated for tons of awards. After all he is our filter and everything that trickles through is what he wants us to perceive. This becomes a curious concept when said filter doesn’t know how to perceive events.
All and all I really enjoyed Mr. Robot, I know this because I’ve re-watched a couple of episodes out of sequence. This is one of those shows that has great re-watch value. It’s got everything I want out of fiction. It’s trippy, edgey, dark, and has great characterization. I’ll be sure to watch season two when it airs, but there better be swear words. I hate censoring. I say come for the story and acting, and stay for when the wheels fall off.