Review: Humans Season 1
Humans Season 1 arrived on DVD this week, so I thought it might be a good opportunity to take a look at the series and give our opinion of it. Coming from the makers of Utopia & Broadchurch, and written by the folk behind Spooks, you really couldn’t ask for a higher calibre team behind a show. The story is set in a sort of parallel present, where robot servants (aka ‘synths’) are common place. From doing household chores, to dangerous industrial jobs, to the rather more dubious sex working models. Whatever your ‘needs’, there is a synth to help.
Father of 3, Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill; The Imitation Game), is struggling to cope at home whilst his workaholic wife Laura (Katherine Parkison; The IT Crowd) is away all the time. So he takes it upon himself to order a synth to help around the house. Picking up the synth they name Anita (Gemma Chan; Dates), she appears to be a great help, however Laura is not so keen on this other ‘woman’ invading her home. Although Anita is supposed to be a brand new model, there appears to be some sort of glitch in her system, that occasionally makes her do things that seem somewhat human…
Whilst Laura may feel uncomfortable about having a synth in the house, other families have embraced them with open arms. Retired synth engineer George (William Hurt; Damages) treats his synth Odi (Will Tudor;Game of Thrones) rather more like a son than the medical support bot he was supposed to be. Now way past his warranty, Odi is malfunctioning, but George is struggling to let go. Meanwhile DS Pete Drummond (Neil Maskell; Utopia), who is tasked with investigating synth related incidents, along with his partner DI Karen Voss (Ruth Bradley; Primeval), is struggling to cope at home as his wife Jill (Jill Halfpenny; EastEnders, Waterloo Road)seems to prefer her synth to him.
There is also Leo (Colin Morgan; Merlin, The Fall) is a human on the run with his synth, Max. The pair are searching for someone. But who and why? And why does Max seem far more human than any synth should be?
The casting of the show is particularly good, but stand out performances for me come from Gemma Chan, who’s disturbingly eerie portrayal as the synth Antia is mesmerising to watch, and also Colin Morgan playing a character far from the light-hearted Merlin for which a lot of us know him.
Humans is an interesting cross section of what life might be like if (and possibly when) we have the technology to create robot servants. How would we react to them. Would we anthropomorphise them, or treat them as the machines that they were designed to be? If we create a machine with the ability to learn, could it then become sentient? After all, what is the brain if not a biological computer. Just because something is created by man as a mechanical construct, if it can feel and think, does it have rights? This of course is not the first time this question has been asked, but Humans is a great example of the genre. It’s a thought-provoking, gripping drama that asks you to look into the soul of ‘what is human’.