Humans is set in a parallel present where the latest advancement in technology is not the new iPhone 6 but a Synth, one of the most highly developed humanoid robotic servants in the world. We’re brought into the world where Synths are already considered the norm, like the smartphone in your back pocket. Although they’re extremely efficient and built to make life easier, the show brings to light the debate about what happens when humanity goes too far with technology; is it ethical to give robots emotions and a consciousness?
From on a domesticated perspective, Humans follows Synth Anita (Gemma Chan) as she’s brought into a family by husband and father, Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill). Like with all new gadgets, Anita impresses the family as a servant. However, this episode reveals that she has a more complicated history than simply being made in a factory and taken out of plastic.
The show doesn’t just explore the benefits of how helpful robots can be, but a side to humans that the writers of the show define as our ‘darker appetites’. Sex with robots, sex with something that looks like you but isn’t; it’s a strange thought that we could indulge with technology in such a way, so make sure your dad doesn’t buy one should we reach this stage in reality.
This episode looks at both sides of the coin, not just offering technological pessimism but a warmer side too. It shows that sentimentality can be formed with your devices, like how you’d be upset if you broke your phone because of the treasured photos and videos contained within it.
What’s particularly interesting about Humans is that it observes how much time we spend with our eyes glued to phones and tablets, not communicating with those around us. Anita was partially bought to perform household chores, allowing the family to spend more time with each other. One scene in the first episode depicts how detrimental such devices can be to our time.
Humans is a fantastic commentary on society and how fast it’s changing due to technology. Gemma Chan’s performance as Anita is well worth commending as she radiates a haunting persona, forcing you to question if technology should be embraced or taken with caution. With a dash of good humour amongst some great drama, the first episode truly paints a promising picture for the future of the series.
Humans airs on Sunday 14th June 9pm Channel 4.
– Ali Mendzil