Dystopian fiction is having something of a renaissance these days and the over the last few years we have been
inundated spoiled with dystopian TV shows that reflect our ever growing anxieties about technology, surveillance, the erosion of morality and the end of the world as we know it.
Here are my top 5 picks for TV shows that explore the concept of dark, dystopian futures.
Originally published in 1985, Margaret Atwood’s ‘Handmaid’s tale’ couldn’t feel more fresh or more timely. Recently turned into a TV series, it is dealing with reproductive rights, with the sudden accession to power of a theocracy in the United States.
With human fertility rates collapsing as result of sexually transmitted diseases and environmental pollution, the series is exploring a society which is organised in a militarised regime in which women are not allowed to work, read or own property and money. This Orwellian drama series is set in a dystopian society that treats women as ‘property of the state’, forcing those who are fertile into sexual servitude to re-populate a collapsing world.
Electric Dreams is a ten part series currently airing on Channel 4 (UK), featuring adaptations of Philip K. Dick’s short stories. Philip K. Dick has cemented his reputation as one of the most adapted science fiction authors of the modern age, with notable adaptations of his work being Blade Runner, Total Recall, Adjustment Bureau and the mother of all science fiction films, Minority Report.
The self contained episodes deal compelling visions of dystopian futures (or presents) and unsettling explorations of themes such as artificial intelligence, the nature of reality, subjective consciousness, alternate universes, authoritarian control, technology and interactions between humans and non-humans.
The Man in the High Castle
What if Nazi Germany had won World War II? Another Philip K. Dick adaptation (although admittedly quite ‘loose’) is the Man in the High Castle, whose season 1 and 2 are available on Amazon Prime. The Man in the High Castle imagines an alternative history in which the Axis Powers were victorious in World War 2.
The series explores a fictional picture of a world where the United States are ruled by Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany and looks at daily life and the implications of such a totalitarian regime.
The Circle, is the cinematic adaptation of Dave Eggers’ cautionary tale about the dangers of a life consumed by an over-reliance on one’s digital footprint.
Set in a near-future America, The Circle depicts the division between ‘openness’ in society where we all live in a permanent state of transmission and exhibition. Starting off as a satire on social networking, it develops to a full blown dystopia as it explores the theme of the collection of power by a monolithic internet company.
The film is currently available on Amazon prime.
This thriller coming from Brazil is exploring the dystopian future of wealth inequality and explores a society where the top 3% live in luxury in a paradise called the ‘Offshore’ while everyone else is trapped in poverty.
At the age of 20, everyone gets a shot at making it into the 3 percent through a competition called the Process, supposedly making this a just “meritocracy,” because that line of thinking has never gone wrong before. The Process is designed to be difficult, revealing, and even potentially lethal, pushing the characters to their limits with often unexpected results.
The show is currently available on Netflix worldwide