My fellow Game of Thrones fans: have you started to experience the GOT withdrawal yet? If so, no worries, these science fiction TV shows can help you get through the post-GOT anxiety. Like many fantasy lovers, I also enjoy sci-fi and spend a lot of time on them due to the creativity and imagination involved. Watching Science Fiction makes me think about the scientific theories, rational, the future and human nature reflected through these works. I’m listing my top five favorite recent sci-fi TV shows that have blown my mind, and I’m sure they are going to blow yours as well.
Note: The Handmaid’s Tale is not here because I haven’t watched it yet, but it tops my watch list, and I’m really looking forward to it!
Disclaimer/ Spoiler Alert: No worries, I'm only including a brief introduction to the plot, but still mild spoiler alert!!!
5. Mr. Robot (USA Network)
“A bug is never just a mistake. It represents something bigger. An error of thinking that makes you who you are” (S1E03).
Mr. Robot is the life of a “double agent” computer programmer Elliot who works for a cybersecurity company as well as a hacker for an underground hacking group, trying to bring down one of his company’s clients. Mr. Robot is not your ordinary hacking/computer tech show. It does not feature fancy hacking equipment that appears in most spy films, but very common tools and some down-to-earth “real” hacking skills. Besides the technology, the show also successfully portrays a complex protagonist who is quite an introvert. Elliot has some personality issues and constantly struggles between his dual identities, and it allows viewers to stand in his shoes and feel his inner conflict. This is a brainy series with many details and a fast pace. Quoting my best friend who introduced this show to me, “for every new episode, forget what you have seen prior to that because your mind will be blown away by wild plot twists. Yet you have to remember every little detailed clue since that's the only way to make sense out of these twists”.
Season 3 is coming this October!
4. Stranger Things (Netflix)
The story begins when a boy goes missing in a small Indiana town of Hawkins. His family and friends search for him in the town only to a discover girl with psychokinetic power and a mysterious monster. The plot is not super complex, but it has a great mixture of different genres. It is a sci-fi blended with a frequent taste of horror movies, a sense of supernatural in fantasy and a bit of teen drama. My favorite part of the show are the protagonists: they are teenagers but are in no way childish. Each character is so full of personality; they are truly well-rounded. Their intelligence and courage as well as flaws make them lively and their interactions, especially clashes, fun to watch. Since I did not grow up in the 80s, I don’t think I fully understand the show’s homage for that decade and the sense of nostalgia that many praise the show for. It does bring me back in time to all the adventures and fantasies I dreamed about in childhood.
The second season of Stranger Things should be coming out quite soon. Around this Halloween, maybe… Given the ending of Season 1, I can’t wait to see more about the backstory of Eleven!
3. Westworld (HBO)
Westworld is a huge western themed amusement park where human-like robot hosts are designed to serve human guests in whatever they want to do in the park; however, due to unknown reasons, one by one, hosts start to behave strangely against their programming. Westworld, like other brainy Nolan productions, is the most complex, abstract and sometimes confusing (at least to me) in this list. With artificial intelligence technology’s growing controversy, many shows and movies start to rethink the ethics behind the technology and its relationship with humans, and Westworld is no doubt among the best ones. The producers deserve a round of applause. The story is intriguing, sophisticated and so subtle that every detail may have some significant meaning and contribution to the later plot. The show touches on a lot of genres: principle of physics, philosophy and human consciousness, so science people, this is your show. No need to mention the cast who gives a wonderful performance: Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and the magnificent Anthony Hopkins.
HBO has already renewed the show, so the second season should be on its way soon!
2. Sense 8 (Netflix)
“What is human? An ability to reason? To imagine? To love or grieve? If so, we are more human than any human ever will be” (S1E10).
Sense 8 is about the lives of eight strangers living in different places of the world who suddenly find out that they are all sensates in one cluster and can share each other’s thoughts, feelings and skills. Through their connections, the eight of them become close, like a family. They help each other out on their troubles and try to solve the mysteries of their race all the while trying to fight an organization that attempts to capture them. The connection the sensates have really fascinates me and leaves me thinking if all humans are able to feel the happiness and pain and understand one another’s thoughts as deeply as they do, would we be better off? Although Sense 8 is not so much a hard-core sci-fi, its touches on topics such as identity, sexuality and religion that are closely related to our own world. The series is indeed shot on location in cities across the globe, so it should be a show to both enjoy and think about.
Sadly, probably due to some financial issues (shooting on location is indeed costly), Netflix decided to cancel the show after two successful seasons. The series would be closed by a two-hour long finale in 2018 (I’m crying, just not externally…).
5. Black Mirror (Netflix)
After struggling a long time between Sense 8 and Black Mirror, I decided to put Black Mirror in the top spot.
Black Mirror is set in a highly advanced society, some kind of near future, and tells the stories of the dark and terrifying side effects of modern technologies on people. The lives portrayed in the show are so close to reality that the show allows us to reflect what we do each day with our own “black mirrors:" cellphones, tablets, PCs, etc. It’s an anthology series (makes it hard to summarize the plot), and each episode has its own unique setting and plot but always features an unexpected turning point in the end. The intense story-telling is truly the heart of Black Mirror: it beats me every time when I try to guess the plot, and the endings never fail to give me goosebumps. The show brings up many different issues and standpoints that can be quite challenging and even somehow disturbing, but those are the things that you can take away from the show and think about. The latest season, season 3, came out in 2016 and season 4 is probably going to be released later this year. Season 3 is actually my favorite so far. Besides the iconic “Black Mirror” type of satire and thriller inherited from the previous seasons, the series is picking up more and more mind-touching and sometimes heartbreaking storylines (such as S3E4 San Junipero).