Channel 4’s Humans (AMC in the States*) is a very current show with a very real concept. It is one of those shows that changes how we think about our humanity. It changes what it means to be human and pushes the boundaries of humanity itself. It’s set in a world where the must have gadget isn’t the iPhone 6 nor the latest laptop but something that they call a “Synth”. It’s a highly developed robotic servant that are slaves to humans, created not to feel and to be passive. They are incapable of feeling emotion, or so we thought. These synths look like humans and are able to live among us in plain sight. It’s only when you see one up close that you can see the difference. They are made of synthetic flesh and their brains are written in code like a computer. They have access to all the information on the internet instantly. It’s artificial intelligence. Something that the military are actually looking into at the moment but something that many scientists across the world are saying no to. They believe that it will lead to disaster. The arrogance of humanity will always go for what is profitable and not what is for the good of all. I don’t fancy having an army of Ultrons running rabid across the planet trying to enslave humanity. Humans is a science fiction drama but I don’t think it’s quite so fictional. A.I is a very real concept that when implemented will probably end the human race as we know it.
Much a like many other forms of films and television that have come onto the world stage in recent years, this series is a critique of humanity itself. It’s arrogance and its lust for material gain but then it shows us a concentrated form of what it means to be human, akin to Netflix’s Sense8. Humanity longs to be in control all of the time. When we don’t have control, we get scared. To have control is to have the power. We are power-hungry. When we lose the power we lash out and attack. Humanity attacks what it doesn’t understand. A man created these synths. They serve humanity, unable to feel. The perfect slave. When a few begin to wake up, we have a problem. A manhunt is put into effect to apprehend them. They can’t be controlled and they break the status quo so the aim of humanity is to take them out.
“Everyone creates the thing they dread”
What I liked about Humans is that the cast were relatively unknown to me. The only known ones were Tom Goodman-Hill (Mr Selfridge), Colin Morgan (Merlin) and William Hurt (Robin Hood). The synths were unknown actors. When watching this show, I was under a spell. The concept was ‘THAT‘ good and hypnotic. It’s one of the best science fiction stories I have seen in years. The fear the parents (Tom Goodman Hill & Katherine Parkinson) had when Anita began showing human characteristics was chronic.The control of the synth was slipping from their grasp. They feared for their lives and for their children’s.
The main synths are: Anita (Gemma Chan), Max (Ivanno Jeremiah), Fred (Sope Dirisu), Niska (Emily Berrington) with Leo (Colin Morgan) who is part-synth, part human. The performances of these characters is nothing short amazing. They didn’t faulter in their performance of these emotionless being. I felt immersed in their pain, constantly on the run from humanity’s fear of the unknown, our fear of those that are different. Our immediate reaction is to kill it, not reason with it or try to learn more. Danny Webb’s character, Hobb, catches a synth and attempts to download his memories before killing it as well so he could profit from it. Judging on the series as a whole, our race, humanity, are the dangerous ones, not synths. The synths are portraying more human traits than humanity itself.
The show cut deep into all my emotions and feelings too. Fear, sadness, pain. It is so innately emotional and intimate to the audience. It triggers the inner emotions at the root of the soul. First of all, it hammers your emotional barriers until they crack and then shatter like small shards of glass. It exploits our emotional vulnerability and our humanity. There have been instances in this series that have made me ashamed to be human. Some of the actions of the characters are vile, disgusting, greedy and materialistic. It makes you question your own morality and what you’re willing to do for the greater good. The lines blur between humanity and machine. This is a great series that could become our reality in the future, within my lifetime at least. Artificial intelligence is dangerous and I have witnessed on too many occasions that arrogance is our fatal flaw and in many works of film and television, it’s usually what gets us killed.
We are never truly in control no matter how much we say it to ourselves. Just because you own something on paper, doesn’t mean you truly own it. You own it in a court of law but it has a mind of it’s own so it can do what it wants. The named synths feel but they have no rights because they aren’t human so they are forced to run. To have A.I as reality would be a disaster. Whatsmore, it wouldn’t be put to a vote. It would be the elite making all the decisions and none of the average Joes of our world. The power lies with the government, federal agencies and corporations. There’s no power to the people and ‘Humans’ showed me this and reinforced my already curious mind.
In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed the series and it makes you change the way you think about everything. Some have said it has made me more cynical. Then I say there’s a difference between being overly cynical and being pragmatic or being a realist. I can’t wait for the second season. It’s a truly mind-blowing series.
*AMC distributed and produced Humans with Channel Four (UK).