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REVIEW: Utopia is both the best and the worst show you could watch right now

By Rory Cashin

September 15, 2020 at 9:09am

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A darkly comic look at the world about to end because of a pandemic. We're not sure 2020 is ready for Utopia.

It is difficult to think of a better time for a show like Utopia to arrive for viewers. An American remake of short-run cult-hit British show from 2013, it initially tells the story about a foursome of fervent comic book lovers seeking out the manuscript for the sequel to a graphic novel that some believed predicted some of the biggest viral outbreaks and killer diseases of the 20th century. The sequel could potentially foretell the next century of pandemic disasters, but it turns out the comic book mini-gang aren’t the only ones looking for it…

The big-budget remake is entirely written by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Sharp Objects), and sets its stall out pretty early with the opening credits: melting icecaps, police brutality, raging forest fires. It couldn’t be more topical if it tried, not to mention it is all mixed together with hyper-possessive fanboys and fangirls who maybe dig too deep into the comics/movies/TV shows they love, as well as a paranoid’s dream come true: it turns out a big corporation is actually behind it all!

If the graphic novel in the show vaguely predicted the world of Utopia, then Utopia itself has eerily predicted the world of 2020. Flynn’s scripts and the host of talented directors keep the story constantly moving forward and expanding, folding in John Cusack’s (Con Air) nice-guy billionaire, Rainn Wilson’s (The US Office) sensitive virologist, and Sasha Lane’s (American Honey) single-minded lady of vengeance, and they are never afraid to suddenly kill off characters we like or serve up some out-of-nowhere plot twists.

Across the seven episodes shown to press for review, the full scope of the plot has yet to be revealed, but the size of conspiracy at play puts it on another level to anything that most TV has attempted before. Additionally, while not every single character lands (Lane is great, but her role is so abrasive that she is impossible to warm to), each of the performances are spot on, so while the world around these comic book geeks descends further and further into violent anarchy, Flynn somehow manages to keep it entertaining thanks to her trademark pitch black sense of humour.

It all somehow successfully comes together to make a show that shouldn’t be missed, unless you’re feeling particularly anxious about, y’know, literally everything happening outside in the world today, then we can’t recommend enough that you don't watch it.

All episodes of Utopia will arrive on Prime Video from Friday 25 September, and you can check out the latest trailer for the show right here:

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