Mr Robot: Sam Esmail Presents the New Normal

Mr Robot - Season 1
Watching the pilot episode of Sam Esmail’s Mr Robot opened a door in the mind of the world’s young, techno savvy demographic. The show is self-admittedly aimed at the younger members of the audience who are not only up on their computer hacking knowledge but who are topically and pop culturally aware. They most likely have a lot more in common with Elliot Alderson than they would like. Esmail presents us with the “new normal” in that Rami Malek’s character suffers from a number of mental maladies. After the season one finale, it seemed to be a good time to think about Esmail’s picture of the new normal and all that Elliot is as the modern “everyman.”

Foremost is his schizophrenia. However, looking at the hacker, and leader of fsociety, it appears that he could also be bi-polar with a few other mental issues buried in that head, which could include a form of autism. (This is not based upon Malek’s “deer in the headlights” gaze but his innate ability to work issues at almost super human speed.) It appears that the only thing that Alderson does not suffer from is ADD, on this side of the big pond, or ADHD over in England.

Alderson also self medicates, something that a huge amount of people do. At a time when a quick trip across the southern border makes it easy for a number of folks to meet their own medicinal needs, it is not too surprising. While Elliot himself may not be the “new normal” the world in which Mr Robot lives, breathes and creates anarchy, is.

Certainly, there are nods and winks to, not only Fight Club, but a number of other Stanley Kubrick films as well. However, leaving aside the internal plot lines, the verse is all about our new and ever increasing addiction to and reliance on the Internet, computers and WiFi.

If nothing else, Elliot shows us how much, or how little, the use of passwords, firewalls and security software protects our everyday life. Alderson is “scary good” at hacking everybody. No one organization, or individual, is safe from him accessing their data. He is also, until recently, untraceable.

*Sidenote* It does look like season two holds the promise of problems for Elliot and his use of server proxies in Estonia since Krista’s ex-love-rat boyfriend Michael/Lenny is on the warpath.

Still, Esmail’s new normal feels right. The world is all about the world wide web and all companies, not just banks, rely on servers, back-up servers and wireless transfers. Things have moved on from those old “key-punch” days, but one thing has not changed. Data, when it is lost, or “given” a virus, is a bucket of writhing worms that may never be sorted out or retrieved.

The showrunner/creator of Mr. Robot is a film fan, he says so in interviews and Esmail has stated specifically that he is a Stanley Kubrick fan. He cites a few films of Mr. Kubrick’s that he has paid homage to. Eyes Wide Shut being one. One cannot help but like a creator who is a self-professed fan of the redoubtable late Stanley Kubrick.

The “new normal” is relative to the age group it is aimed at. In the show, fsociety; Elliot’s team of computer anarchists who want to change the world (Save the World) have done so. Streets are full of happy rioters, if such a thing can be imagined, and the “suits” are all panicking. Elliot muses that the end of the world (as we know it) is not how he imagined. “People in expensive suits rushing around [sic].”

This is the crux of “Mr. Robot world.” Neither Elliot nor his team have thought through the whole “destroy the world’s debt” ideology. Sure, no one owes any money to anyone else, at least not in the sense that it can be tracked electronically, but money does still make the world go round. With the markets crashing world-wide money gets devalued. The divide between the “haves” and “have nots” will widen.

As shown that the season finale’s final moments (Where B.D.Wong shows up in a scene that pays tribute to Kubrick’s last film) the oligarchy are not touched, troubled, or overly concerned about the hack and the loss of debt. Their fish will fry regardless of what oil is used.

It is not unusual that Elliot and his little band of misfits have not thought their attack through. The young, the target demographic, do not, as a rule, think too far in advance. It is not just today’s youth who have this shortcoming, all youth, regardless of era suffer from this. Perhaps what is relevant to this “generation” of young people is their total reliance upon the Internet, computers, smartphones, and tablets.

In keeping with the reflection on today’s younger demographic having much in common with the damaged Elliot, take a moment to look at the number of children, and young adults, who have some form of autism, ADD or ADHD, schizophrenia, bi-polar (which used to have the charming name of Manic Depressive) and other types of mental issues. Elliot’s self medicating, in order to exist “normally” may not be overly common, but his lack of social finesse is.

Living in a world where everyone communicates more often online than in real life it is not surprising. Something that was included early on, was Ollie’s online chats with his “on the side” bit of stuff that Angela found out about. It was also shown, earlier in the season, how much social media eased a hacker’s job in finding out personal details about their target.

This too, has become part of the new normal. Texting has become passé. It is all instant messaging, direct messaging, FaceTime, Facebook, Twitter, Line, Skype, and the list goes on. Real life Conversations between people happen less and less while reliance upon the Internet as conversational hub grows and grows.

Mr. Robot shows us our world gone mad. Elliot may have issues, but the real issues are not with his ability to hack and therefor change the world, they are with the new reality. The new normal. Credit card theft, Identity theft, and/or any of the things mentioned during the Christian Slater rant on the season finale are our new world, for better or worse.

Our new normal is The Matrix, Esmail proves it by revealing that we do live in a virtual world that is filled with inhabitants who have forgotten, or never learned, what real contact and interaction is all about. A world where the rich view everything through predatory eyes and most likely study The Art of War to learn the art of winning.

Between First Season Ends: Renewal?

Still from Between
Between, the Canadian series which was essentially a riff on the old New Zealand kid’s TV show The Tribe, has finished, the first season ended after it’s “ordered” six episodes and there is no news of renewal…yet. Starring Jennette McCurdy, Jesse Carere, Ryan Allen and Justin Kelly, the show follows the trials of under-22s in Pretty Lake who have survived a viral attack killing off everyone over the age of 21.

The town is broken down into the rich kid, the poor ones and the in-betweens, which includes the smarter-than-smart MIT accepted wunderkind Adam (Carere) and the teen mom, Wiley (McCurdy). The series started with a bit of a whimper. Although it has to be said that the deaths of the “grown-ups” impressed. A sudden coughing attack and then thick blood drooling from the mouth and…death. Quick, disturbing and set up in such a way that one knew the younger denizens of the town were completely freaked out by the sight and suddenness of their parents, teachers, and so on expiring so fast and inexplicably.

The first episode of Between had McCurdy’s character acting like another variation of Ellen Page’s Juno in the film of the same name, but that soon changed after it was revealed that Wiley’s “baby father” was the rich guy who owns most of the town and whose son, Chuck steps up to take charge after all the older citizens die.

The Creekers, born on the wrong side of the tracks and who are still living there, fight Chuck every step of the way and provide a lot of conflict for the rich kid who is trying to keep things together. There were some things about the show that grated.

For instance, the seemingly obligatory “mentally challenged” sibling, who is doomed to die, the drug addict brother who wants to be good, even if he does almost rape a girl, and the crazy smart teen prodigy who helps to figure things out. The entire plot does make one think of cult favorite The Tribe but the setting and the characters are wildly different. The change of locale along with the increased sophistication of the kids in the show made the whole thing refreshing although woefully slow.

For a season which was only going to consist of six episodes the very fact that things do not really “take off” till episode five shows either complete faith that there will be a season two, or that the show’s producers were not aware that the pacing was snail paced and annoying. Netflix does not have the problem of most networks, their rating system does not dictate whether they cancel a series or not, at least it certainly appears that way.

The show suffered a bit from clunky acting and storylines that were a little predictable. There were issues of events that were illogical and potholes that one could drive a lorry through…

But…

The pickup of action in episode five and six; the series finale, and the improvement in the performances made the show feel like it was finally sailing instead of tacking. This illusion of smoothness, versus fighting the tide, makes the short six episode season seem unfair and a tad annoying.

There is no word, not that this reviewer can find, on whether the show will be renewed or not. Entertainment review site Rotten Tomatoes slaughtered the series and on IMDb the rating of Between is a paltry 5.5.

Followers on Twitter, @betweenseries numbers 2858 and the show’s Facebook page has under 6,300 likes. The series may well vanish without a trace with fan numbers this low. If Between does hang on for another season, it will be a miracle as well as very annoying when one compares it to other, vastly superior, Canadian export The Lottery where Marley Shelton tried to save an infertile world inspire of a corrupt and evil government.

The six season series can still be seen on Netflix.

Jimmy Kimmel Mean Tweets: Back and Viral

Jimmy Kimmel Mean Tweets: Back and Viral

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel knows what people like and he has brought back those celebrity mean tweets and it should come as no surprise that the video uploaded on November 20, 2014 – a mere two days ago – has gone insanely viral. With over 10 million views, and rising this latest group of performers run the gamut from A listers to “not-so” A listers. Hollywood comedy legend Bob Newhart, Chloe Grace Moretz and Gwyneth Paltrow were among the celebrities who read their nasty tweets out loud and it has to be said, that despite some pretty hurtful comments, this segment is still wildly popular and painfully funny.

Sarah Silverman Enrages Transgender Community

Sarah Silverman Enrages Transgender Community

Sarah Silverman made a video where she points out the wage gap between men and women, in the clip, she decides to get a penis and become “a dude,” this has enraged the transgender community. They feel that Sarah has treated the plight of a “vulnerable” community lightly and The Jim Collins Foundation has called for The National Women’s Law Center to remove the “offending” video.

Amanda Bynes Deja Vu All Over Again

Amanda Bynes Deja Vu All Over Again

The latest news concerning former Nickelodeon actress Amanda Bynes feels a little like Yogi Berra used to day, deja vu all over again. Last year the Easy A star stayed in the news continually for her ever increasingly bizarre behaviour. Just like the most recently reported incidents, the 28 year old performer started out in legal trouble on the West Coast in 2012 and then flew to the East Coast where she got into even more trouble.