4 June 2015 | MichaelALewis
Quite Possibly the Best Pilot I Have Ever Seen
The pilot episode of this series shows great promise. At the risk of failing to appeal to the modern television viewer who has become accustomed to shows lacking true substance, it will most certainly captivate a core audience of viewers who feel alienated by the typical programming of the modern day. The narrative touches on topics like social and digital revolution through the thoughts of the protagonist as he narrates the episode. The status quo of modern social behavior, consumerism, and corporate greed prevailing by virtue of the complacency amongst the proletariat is a core issue that both the show and protagonist address with great disdain. It ironically begs the question that if our complacency with the quality of consumer items––such as substandard television programming––is so entrenched in our society, when we are finally greeted with an oasis of the kind of talented artistic expression that this show offers devoid of being dumbed-down or hollowed out in effort to appeal to a wider audience, will we be able to transcend our usual tastes, or will the level of real, thought-provoking narratives lead a disinterest among the typical armchair audience and eventually the show's demise?
Much like other successful programs such as "The Big Bang Theory" and "House", that received a large following despite some very technical aspects of the dialogue that tend go over-the-head of the majority of their viewers, Mr. Robot followed suit and still holds true to it's core audience by fact-checking its more technical content and preserving its validity.
Most films or programs with a hacker or computer science theme tend to overplay the "coolness" of what is shown when it comes something as dry as computer code by representing the digital world as it it were a fantasy, in lieu of the more accurate yet bland, plain-text unix coding on a computer screen. I was surprised and also relieved to see the actual computer science portions of the episode be accurate representations of a real-life scenario down the very character. As with other successful programs with story lines derived from complex subject matter (like medicine or theoretical physics), the amount of technical dialogue is not so much that it will bore the majority of the audience who will not understand it, but just enough that it will captivate and perhaps even educate them slightly as they are offered a glimpse into a fascinating world whose power and influence they wouldn't otherwise comprehend.
My hope is that USA––the network on which the show will air––will recognize that they have struck gold, and not run scared if viewership starts off slow. Most shows of this caliber do not take off will a large audience, but rather begin to amass a strong cult following and later become a huge hit.
We saw this kind of skepticism among network executives with Breaking Bad. Much like the idea of a school teacher cooking meth to pay his medical bills, a computer nerd with a social disorder and possible schizophrenia working for a network security firm by day and playing social hacktivist by night is not something that immediately screams "blockbuster".
It's my hope that the timing of this show will prove to be its greatest strength in light of recent events in the hacking and cybersecurity world involving Anonymous, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Ross Ulbricht, and Aaron Swartz. Viewers are educated now more than ever when it comes to hacking and the impact that individuals can make on society through their "hacktivist" work.
The protagonist of Mr. Robot is similar in many ways to these individuals, and the plausibility of his disposition is validated by their individual plights. Where they have fallen short of their ultimate goals and failed to elude capture, the audience will root for their new favorite anti-hero since Walter White to incite a social revolution through his hacktivist work. Whether he succeeds or is met with the same demise is up to the writers who have crafted this brilliant first episode.