AMC’s British co-production Humans may still be flying under the radar for most, but it’s a must-see drama. It’s like a must quieter and more considered version of Westworld, where it doesn’t hinge on twists so much as character revelations. The show takes place in a world where humans are aided by AI called “synths,” who look human and are programmed to act human, but only to a point — they are not conscious, so they do not feel. This leads to them being used for a variety of work, from mundane things like household tasks to dangerous jobs and (as Westworld often focused on) sex work.
In its first season, Humans focused on an average family, the Hawkins, who owned a synth who helped them around the house. But this synth, Mia (Gemma Chan), then “woke up” and became conscious, and eventually found others like her as the Hawkins had to figure out if they wanted to help her or turn her in. In Season 2, the series spends its time on the idea of synth rights as the newly awake synths explore and “feel” for the first time like humans, but it also — as part of its full consideration of what a world with this kind of AI would be like — takes the time to show how humans are becoming more synth-like. (You can read Chris’ review of Season 2 here).
In Episode 3 of Season 2, we saw Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) and Laura (Katherine Parkinson) concerned about their youngest daughter Sophie’s (Pixie Davies) behavior. Sophie was probably the most deeply affected by the events of Season 1 on an emotional level, being so connected to Mia, and later, to Niska and others who stayed at the house. Check out the new clip to see what that means for her now:
This may be the most fascinating plotline of Humans yet. While other series have dealt with the idea of synths/AI becoming more human and having relationships with humans, what about the other way around? Season 2 has also introduced a classmate of Toby’s (Theo Stevenson) who bought bright green contacts and walks around like a synth, appearing to want to be one. But that’s different from “identifying” as synth, which is what the psychologist says here about Sophie. Using that word brings up all kinds of thoughts of current debates over gender identification, so it will be fascinating to see where the series and its arguments go from here.
Humans airs Monday nights on AMC, and if you aren’t caught up then you need to be!