The Golden Globe award for best TV Drama is always among the most contested awards of the entire telecast. This year’s list of nominees included prominent TV shows such as Empire, Narcos, and the odds-on favorite to win the award after its preceding Emmy success, Game of Thrones. To the surprise of many, however, the award ended up going to Mr. Robot, an ambitious, yet little known thriller with a distinctly Egyptian flavor. The show’s creator, Sam Ismail, is an Egyptian-American, while the show’s protagonist is played by Rami Malek, the fast-rising Egyptian-American heart rob. But what exactly is Mr. Robot? How did this little-known show manage to upstage such television heavyweights? Is it just another critically acclaimed show destined to have a loyal cult-following but little else ala HBO’s The Wire? Could it progressively become a global phenomenon the size of Game of Thrones? After viewing the first season of the show, the second season is scheduled for release in the summer, eniGma magazine is happy to report that Mr. Robot is a TV show destined for the big time, in terms of global viewership, and all the hype that comes with it. While TV series such as the aforementioned Narcos and Game of Thrones succeed by putting the viewer into a hypnotizing world that bears little similarity to our everyday lives, Mr. Robot succeeds by doing the exact opposite. In essence, the show makes us face the questions that we thought couldn’t be answered, or rather, the questions that we didn’t really want to ask ourselves about.
The series follows Elliot Alderson (Malek), a young New Yorker who works for a cybersecurity company as a computer engineer, pretty straightforward right? Well not really. We soon find out that Elliot isn’t your average young adult, though, as he not only suffers from a multitude of psychological disorders, but also has a deep thirst for revenge against the company that caused his dad’s death. Elliot’s anger against said company, sarcastically called Evil Corp, causes him to be recruited by a mysterious, highly underground hacker group that shares his disdain against the massive corporation. The group’s main aim isn’t just to destroy Evil Corp, but to somehow cancel all the world’s debts. What then ensues is a series of mind-blowing games between Elliot, his mind, and the corporate world that we live in today.
Mr. Robot’s first season is so griping that we once watched an unthinkable six episodes in a row, with little regard to any other forms of social life! What the show really succeeds in is that it puts the viewer right into the middle of the show. This isn’t a show that shows us an imagined world with no similarity to the one we live in; this is a show that leverages technology to create an astonishingly authentic version of our daily lives that pays a direct and unmistakable homage to the Wall Street movement. Such realism left us with no choice but to ask ourselves about the moral implications behind any revolutionary movement, whilst frequently leaving us questioning the possibility of any radical changes. Equally important, Mr. Robot simply asks us: is it even worth it to change a broken monetary system if human life is at stake? How much sacrifice is too much sacrifice? Like the best philosophical questions, the show doesn’t provide us with any answers, but gives us the opportunity to come up with our own answers based on our own agency. In that sense, Mr. Robot takes the heralded elements of successful movies such as Taxi Driver and Fight Club from the movie theatres to the more elaborate TV stratosphere.
Judging by its highly successful first season, Mr. Robot seems well on track to achieve a global following that could possibly rival that of Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad one day. Put simply, while Game of Thrones is TV’s version of Lord of the Rings, so to speak, Mr. Robot could best be explained as the TV version of The Hunger Games. While the Hunger Games series left us asking many questions between each movie, Mr. Robot does the same with its thrilling, spell-binding pace. After all, maybe the best questions are the ones that linger.