USA Network's "Mr. Robot" Scared the $h!t Out of Me - And It Was Awesome
Never has a television show both entertained me and scared the every loving shit out of me at the same time. So congratulations Mr. Robot, you’re the first. And you never forget your first. And much like Marla The Virgin was before John John came along, we all are afraid of something. As young children, we’re scared by the monsters under the bed, the boogeyman, or in my 18 month old daughter’s case, the vacuum. As teenagers, asking out girls or boys, final exams, and acne puts a little fear inside us. But as an adult in the 21st century, identity theft, our privacy becoming public, Donald Trump as POTUS, and our reliance on money are all scary. So kudos to Sam Esmail for highlighting those fears so perfectly with Mr. Robot.
There are many wonderful elements to USA Network’s surprise hit. The writing, acting, and storytelling are all brilliant. And of course, fear. But here’s my question: Does the show scare me because it touches on something that is so close to reality or is it because the reality is, we are actually watching our own lives play out on screen?
After watching the first few episodes, my first thought was to immediately erase all my social media accounts, destroy my phone, take all my money out of the bank (the bank wouldn’t mind, trust me), and never use anything electronic ever again. Not too long ago, while walking in my neighborhood one evening in NYC, a stranger approached me and asked if he could borrow my cell phone to call his wife, explaining that the battery on his had died. Being the good samaritin that I am, I obliged. But after watching Elliot do the same thing to his therapist’s boyfriend in an effort to hack into his life, I honestly lost sleep that night. Holy shit, was I hacked? Is someone watching my every move right now?
In fact, I didn’t sleep after watching about half of the first season. Mostly, it was from fear of knowing that the world we live in was being exposed, but also because I was excited to watch more episodes. As I watched more, I fell deeper into the show’s hypnotic trance. Although still freaked out about the not so pseudo reality that I was watching, a funny thing happened. I was so locked into the story, I found myself evaluating not only the society that I am currently a part of, but my own actions and role in it. Am I part of the problem? Is there anything I should be doing to be a part of the solution? These are not the typical things that enter my mind while watching TV. Television is supposed to entertain, often times mindlessly. It’s supposed to be a break from the norm, a release from the stresses and responsibility of “this thing we call life”. (RIP Prince)
And that’s why Mr. Robot is so special. True genius forces us to reflect on, analyze, and perhaps find a new perspective on the world around us, as well as our purpose in it, ALL THE WHILE entertaining us. Mr. Robot does this unlike any show has in a long time. And although it scares the crap out of me, I’m in awe of its brilliance.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go destroy my phone and check under the bed.