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‘Mr. Robot’ Season 1 Review

Jacob Judd, Features Editor

Hello friends.

Are you watching “Mr. Robot”? You should be.

This mildly remarkable series might not be the most original product to hit tv in recent memory, but it’s far and away one of the most compelling and well executed. It also feels surprisingly authentic to a culture that’s so often misrepresented in entertainment.

Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) is a socially anxious but brilliant computer programmer by day. But by night he’s a ruthless vigilante hacker who uses his skill set to put away child pornographers and the like. When the mysterious and eccentric Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) wanders into his life, Elliot is offered a chance to join “fsociety” a band of high minded hackers intent on taking down the conglomerate of conglomerates. The goal of course being to establish a new debtless…egalitarian….something…about…I dunno, but corporations man! The goal is not so much important as the journey.

If it sounds a bit like “Fight Club” and “V for Vendetta” had a thematic baby….well yeah, they kinda did. The brilliance though lies in how the Gen-X cynicism of the former and the Orwellian revolutionary tendencies of the latter have been updated for modern sensibilities. The corporate entities aren’t robbing us of our primal nature, they’re robbing us of our democracy. The revolutionaries aren’t terrorists with bombs and government destabilization, they’re Anonymous with an actual agenda and the public good in mind.

The debate about fsociety’s heroism/terrorism will certainly rage. But what’s not up for debate is the uniformly excellent production. Creator Sam Esmail and his other contributing writers turn out scripts with sterling dialogue and plenty of twists and turns, none of witch feel arbitrary or contrived.

The cinematography is a new high-bar for USA network. Every episode opens with a particularly stylish sequence, usually with and unconventional music choice. The show creates a detached, cold and dirty world. Little to no handheld camera work. Every choice feels deliberate.

The work of David Fincher is an unmistakable influence. If you were fascinated by “The Social Network”, horrified by “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or incensed by “House of Cards” theres a good chance you’ll find a lot to love about USA’s new show.

The show has a refreshingly nonchalant approach to diversity as well. Characters can wear a hijab or exhibit fluid sexuality without comment. Characters are certainly informed by their race, gender sexual identity, but they’re never defined by it, and everyone is allowed to be flawed. No one’s stereotyped or put on a pedestal. Obviously no piece of media is perfect, but the show seems to make deliberate strides to be inclusive and accessible to a 21st century audience.

It remains to be seen if the show can expand its scope going into the second season, but for the moment, the first season is damn great. It delivers suspense, mystery,  intrigue, compelling characters, and a socially conscious message about privacy in the 21st century.

You can catch up on “Mr. Robot” on USA’s website and the USA Now app.