Brave New World: The Shows I Binged in the 2020 Pandemic

This post is part 5 of 5 in the series:
The Shows I Binged in the 2020 Pandemic

Once again, I sat down to write a review on one of my favourite shows. When I do this, I first do a Google search for inspiration. Regardless of the show, the reviews are usually bad. Generally, I’d complain that critics religiously pick apart media because positive opinions don’t get traction in today’s media landscape. This time, however, I see their point.

Rolling Stone criticised the show for its shallow adaptation of the 1932 book by Aldous Huxley. Book readers were hoping for a more thoughtful modern contextualisation, and the directors, unfortunately, didn’t deliver. It should be made clear that this is not a review for those who read the book.

I have a steady understanding and deep love for dystopian theory in general. Still, admittedly, I have not read Brave New World. Though it is one of the earliest established dystopic texts, so I’d say that 90% of modern dystopia reflects (or outright copies) themes and dynamics introduced originally by this novel. That’s why this series felt so familiar and comforting to me. It is mimicked by The Maze Runner, Metropolis, The Hunger Games, A Handmaids Tale, 1984. so on and so forth…

The basic plot is this: Society in “New England” is sectioned off by class – Alpha’s, Beta’s, Gamma’s, and so on. Everyone has their role to play, and everyone is happy. They’re happy because they’re constantly popping these pills called ‘soma’ to regulate their ‘levels’.

There’s a beta woman, Lenina Crowne, who’s stirring the balance of society by considering the idea of monogamy. In this society, monogamy is an act of treason because everyone is supposed to be available to the state; – mind, body and soul. They have these massive luxurious themed orgy parties every night, and Lenina just isn’t feeling it.

She takes a get-away trip to America with Bernard, the Alpha man who tells Lenina off for sleeping with the same man too many times. The journey takes a turn for the worst. They end up escaping a hostile situation alongside John, an American carnival worker. He is constantly referred to as ‘the savage’ because he’s not organised under the New England systems.

John personifies the classic individual vs conformity theme from which all dystopia is built. The outsider pisses the government off; the government tries to assimilate the outsider. They retaliate and get the lower-level workers angry. It goes on the way you’d expect.

Critics complained about boredom and predictability, but I don’t mind knowing where a story will go, so long as it’s a good watch. From the perspective of someone who did not have expectations for the show, I believe this was a fantastic watch. I found it interesting plot-wise and stunning visually. If you haven’t read the book, definitely watch the show FIRST. Unfortunately, they’re not planning on making a second season, and apart from some vague Reddit threads, I can’t find a proper petition to change their minds.