Utopia (Review)

UTOPIA (2020)
AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

CREATOR: GILLIAN FLYNN
STARRING: JOHN CUSACK
RAINN WILSON
SASHA LANE
ASHLEIGH LATHROP
DESMIN BORGES

Told Ya Comic Books Was Bad For Ya

Where is Utopia?  After watching the eight episode Amazon Prime original I am  uncertain of the answer to this question.  Gillian Flynn’s series based on the creation of David Kelly provides ample opportunities to gather clues.  In everything I learned of Utopia it’s location is just a portion of the story.

So what is Utopia?  Until the shows opening no one, almost no one knew of it’s existence.  Olivia and Ethan, a soon to be married couple, stumble upon the pages of the comic (graphic novel) while cleaning the hoarders haven they recently inherited.  Sensing opportunity Ethan puts the comic up for sale at the upcoming Fringecon.  

It’s the sale of Utopia that introduces us to the cast as well as to Utopia itself.  Jessica Rothe’s Samantha gets the notification first.  She reaches out to her “fringe” group, Ian (Dan Byrd), Becky (Ashleigh LaThrop) and Wilson Wilson (Demin Borges).  Those who always believed this comic existed.

It was during this early introduction that I was immensely excited to see what the writers had done with this series.  It is almsot easy to miss during Wilson Wilson’s explanation of the importance of the comic to his family.  Utopia was the anticipated, hoped for but never proven sequel to a 2014 comic named Dystopia.  

For so many fans their day came….Utopia exists.

What is it worth?  

For Samantha’s group Utopia has always been real.  It’s during one of the shows many amazing instances where the show leaps from the pages.  One of the number of times the cast sells the series.  We witness as Rothe’s Samantha explains to some cosplay fans of Utopia, for their part it is real to them as well, the significance of this comic.  Virus, plagues are hinted at in the pages of Dystopia.  

It does mean something

This sh#t is about life

Should they expect no less from Utopia?  Could they help make the world better.  If Samantha’s plan to keep the price low works.  If missing member Grant arrives on time, with money.  Then they can have Utopia.More from GWWMinecraft Dungeons – More of this!

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Amazon’s sci fi psychological program hybrids a fourth wall presentation without hijacking it.  As the series progresses the fringes find themselves navigating the edges of their sanity.  None of this should be real, except it is happening.  The ink and colors are coming off the pages and none of them should expect to end up the same way they started.  That’s not how comics work, after all.

Samantha and her group are only part of the story of Utopia.  Because if you believe the lore from Wilson Wilson then Utopia should be the sequel to Dystopia.  Which left Jessica Hyde searching for her father.  If this group believes the story is real, when does the story stop being real.  Which leaves the question,  where is Jessica Hyde?  

It wouldn’t be fair to even mention the concept of Utopia being a graphic novel if it wasn’t graphic.  Those seeking action with their comics won’t be disappointed.  It seems the answer to Ms. Hyde’s location is where the violence is.  Sasha Lane powerfully provides this protagonistt to the fringes.  Ian the least certain of all, asks the question the viewer has.  This can’t be real.  This is Jessica Hyde, she’s cute.

And if Jessica Hyde is out there, does that mean Mr. Rabbit is too?  

And who is Mr. Rabbit? 

It doesn’t take long before Utopia hints at one of it’s first “tales” to chase.  Cusack provides a cold charming confidence as Dr. Kevin Christie.  With his company, his product being blamed for making children sick, this is our fears, our realities.  But all the while he offers a breath of benevolence, on paper he seeks to be seen as a savior.  His intention to help people over himself echoed in one phrase.

What have you done to earn your place in this crowded world

This series asks you to wonder what motivates this characters actions.  Does he want Utopia to prove his innocence?

Rainn Wilson as Dr. Michael Stern is equal parts misunderstood and disheveled.  The exact opposite of Dr. Christie.  No way he could be Utopia’s villian.  Of course from the moment we meet him he knows about the current outbreak.  He’s unaware of Utopia’s existence but knows what it’s pages could be predicting.  

He made Daddy Hyde create horrible viruses

It has to mean something.  Utopia can be viewed as either reading too much into the pages…unless you start to see your life and world somewhere between the covers.  How you place yourself in the story impacts how it relates to you as an audience.  Are you entertained, informed?  Proven by the characters in this series everyone has a different motivation behind their quest for Utopia.  

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And all at once we’re all “fringes” to some degree.  Utopia exposes that tendency to place your hope in Utopia like Becky, or just need to be part of Utopia like Ian.  To go all in like Samantha or let it make you ready to go under like Wilson Wilson.

Unless it is not just your LARP but your RLPO like it appears to be for “Jessica Hyde”.  And both Dr. Christie and Stern.  Then it could mean everything.

Where is Utopia?

What is Utopia?Utopia
Amazon Prime Video
8 episodes
Runtime: 43 – 55 minutes

by

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