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From the acting to the accuracy, the USA show is must-see television
Though Mr. Robot was one of the breakout new series of 2015, it has come to our attention that some people still don't watch it or know what it is. We're here to change that, because Mr. Robot is one of the most exciting and dark new dramas to come along in a while, and its unusual inclusion in USA Network's "blue skies" roster makes it even more interesting.
Ostensibly about a hacker named Elliot (Rami Malek) who challenges the status quo of corporate culture and the rich and powerful, Mr. Robot quickly becomes about so much more. If you're on the fence about taking on a new show, allow us to push you over. It's a must-see drama that's simultaneously relevant, experimental, and shocking. Here are seven reasons why you should make it a priority to tune in, in advance of its Season 2 debut on July 13.
1. It tackles the gap between the rich and the poor.
No series on television dives into the widening chasm between the top 1 percent and the rest of the country like Mr. Robot.Elliot uses his 1337 computer hacking skills to attack the debt records of credit companies and banks in order to even out the field and re-balance the distribution of wealth. But it's not just about money; it's about power and getting it out of the hands of the oligarchy. Reflecting ideas that gained mainstream awareness during the Occupy Wall Street movement, Mr. Robot tackles social issues that impact us all today. But, it's not just about classism, because...
2. It's also fascinating and educational look at mental illness.
Spoiler: Elliot is crazy. As a man who suffers from depression, social anxiety disorder, and paranoid delusions, Elliot -- our eyes and ears into the show -- is a very unreliable narrator, which spices up the storytelling. We frequently don't know what is real and what is imagined, and that's simultaneously thrilling and terrifying.
It's that look into Elliot's mind that's actually the most important aspect of the show. We get to experience most of what Elliot goes through as he does, painting a real portrait of what it's like to live with his condition and making Elliot a relatable character. The way his issues are written into the character and story aren't preachy, nor do they dominate the series -- which makes it feel real, instead of another lesson television wants to teach us.
3. It has its 1's and 0's lined up for technical accuracy.
Because Mr. Robot is about hackers, there's a fair amount of technical jargon thrown around in the show. But rather than cutting over to a nerd in glasses blabbering about firewalls and decryption and then shouting "I'm in!" as so many shows have done, Mr. Robot bases itself in real-world hacking, thanks to a consultant who makes sure everything is accurate. Unless you've broken into the NSA's servers on your own, you'll probably feel lost, but seeing the process from a real perspective gives Mr. Robot authenticity. And because Elliot's motivation is hacking people and not files, the personal information he uncovers from his adventures paints fascinating pictures of his victims and Elliot's view of society.
4. Rami Malek is one of TV's most intense actors.
In lead actor Rami Malek, USA has one of the best new on-screen talents in television and may just nab its first Emmy nomination in an acting category since 2013, when the miniseries Political Animals found its way into the fight with Ellen Burstyn. Malek inhabits Elliot to perfection, capturing the character's paranoia, confusion, and disdain for greed. And those eyes... THOSE EYES! Those eyes were made for acting.
5. Elliot is surrounded by strong female characters.
Yeah, there's a "Mr." in the title and the lead character is a man, but Elliot's life features several strong female characters who add lots of depth to the story. There's Angela (Portia Doubleday), Elliot's childhood friend who is tempted by the allure of corporate promises and who should play a huge role in Season 2. There's Darlene (Carly Chaiken), who is just as interested in taking down the large corporations as Elliot, and is one of the city's best hackers. There's Shayla (Frankie Shaw), Elliot's part-time girlfriend and drug pusher who opens more than Elliot's eyes to hedonism and hustle. And there's Whiterose (B.D. Wong), the transgender leader of a group of Chinese superhackers. None of these characters are cutouts; they can all kick your ass and they all play huge roles in the show.
6. The show's presentation is super cool.
There's a clear vision from creator Sam Esmail about how Mr. Robot should look, and damn does it look good. Following the cinematic model of the pilot (directed by Niels Arden Oplev), Mr. Robot is dressed in muted tones that convey oppression, filled with concrete monstrosities to show the rise of the rich, and shows us bare bedrooms to convey the struggle of the 99 percent. The way Mr. Robot's title card appears -- superimposed over the action at just the right time -- is also a visual trademark of the series, as is the unsettling framing of the characters as they appear to be talking away from the center of your television. That particular effect boosts the themes of isolation, discomfort, and paranoia, which are so central to the story. Here's a guy who can explain it way better than I can (warning: series spoilers within):
The soundtrack is on point
Elliot burns the data on his hacked subjects to blank CDs, labeling them like you would have done your music in the late '90s and early aughts. As for his actual music tastes, Elliot favors music from the fringe, with new artists like Schoolboy Q and Perfume Genius getting attention alongside more established names like Sonic Youth and Afrika Bambaataa, for a true genius mixtape that cultivates the best in underground tunes. Supporting the music is Mac Quayle's original score, easily one of the best TV scores to come about in a long time.
Mr. Robot returns Wednesday, July 13 at 10/9c on USA. Season 1 is available on-demand on Amazon Instant Video.