The lines between human and machine have begun to blur in this near future, science-fiction drama, when the latest family must-have is a Synth: a robot designed to make home life easier, only distinguishable from humans by unnaturally bright green eyes. The Hawkins family purchase a new Synth for themselves, but mum Laura suspects that something is amiss.
The final episode aired here in the UK on Sunday, but the whole series (along with some bonus content) is available to view on Channel 4‘s website, and I would highly recommend it.
**SPOILER FREE POST**
Humans focuses around the Hawkins family and their experiences with their new Synth ‘Anita’ along with numerous other characters whose true importance is revealed as the series goes on. However, it isn’t just an empty narrative built for escapism – there is some real poignancy in the questions raised about the current relationship between humans and technology.
Technology plays a huge part in our lives, we all know that; I used technology to write this post, and you’re using technology to read it. We can’t take more than about two steps without some form of technology crossing our path. In Humans, our reliance on technology has resulted in the creation of Synths, designed with the singular purpose of making our lives easier. They cook, they clean, they drive, they shop … they do just about everything a human can do, and they do it better. Teenager Mattie quite rightly raises the point that why should she train for 7 years to be a doctor when “by then you’d be able to turn any old Synth into a brain surgeon in 7 seconds.” Essentially, they’ve become a threat.
But imagine for a minute if this was happening for real. Would you want a Synth? How much easier would it make your everyday life? I’ll bet life would become far less stressful too. Maybe it sounds a little fantastical just reading about it, but watching Humans, it doesn’t seem impossible … maybe even probable. And some people wouldn’t buy one for the help it provides, they’d buy it because it’s the latest piece of tech and it’s cool. What does that say about us?
We’re in an age where we want more, and we want to get it faster. Now, a 3G connection on your phone seems unbearably slow in comparison to the Wi-Fi and 4G we’ve got used to. The demands we place on our tech are insane, but it’s still not enough. With new developments all the time, we want to be up to date. We want access to be easy and quick, and most importantly, we want it to be readily available. Why do we rely on technology so much? Because it’s available. We could survive without it, but because it’s there we don’t want to, and we certainly don’t want to be caught behind the times.
It’s easy to dismiss Humans as fiction, an impossibility, but I think it’s more than that. It’s a commentary on our lives, and our species. And I think it’s a warning, in part. If we allow technology to advance to this level, we have to be prepared to handle it.
It’s this social commentary and focus on technology that makes me connect Humans with another Channel 4 series that I rate highly: Black Mirror. Created by Charlie Brooker and with a similar near future setting, this series also raises questions about what the future might hold for humanity. With only 7 episodes, each with an individual story and characters, all available to view on Channel 4’s website, it’s definitely worth taking the time to watch that too, especially if you liked Humans.