You’ve probably heard the rallying cries by now. A month ahead of its long-anticipated debut, HBO’s new Sci-Fi Western series, Westworld, is already being touted as “The Next Game of Thrones“. But what show could possibly live up to that hype? And how? Well…maybe, just maybe, this one can — and from the looks of it, with great aplomb.
Executive Producers J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, and Lisa Joy are looking to shoot the moon with Westworld and they’ve spent a whole lot of time adapting the 1973 film of the same name, written and directed by Michael Crichton, which follows the inhabitants of a high-tech theme park where “every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged,” as the synopsis reads.
Set at a peculiar cultural intersection where old-world Americana meets futuristic tech, Westworld follows the happenings of a high-tech theme park inhabited by artificial intelligence-enhanced robots designed to indulge every fantasy of the human patrons. Adventure, sex, violence…you name it…the robot “Hosts”, as they’re called, were created to satisfy each and every whim of their “Guests”, no matter how vile or repugnant. The problem comes when those robots begin manifesting consciousness and a sense of self, retaining and recovering their memories, and ending up on a violent path of confrontation with the Guests.
The new incarnation of Westworld inverts the original’s format, investing in the robots’ point of view over the humans’– foremost, the tremendous Evan Rachel Wood‘s Delores, who despite her youthful visage, is the oldest Host in the park. By making the synthetic Hosts the center of the narrative (at least initially), Westworld opens up a whole new realm of the morality play, specifically honed in on the complicated morality of technological invention.
It’s what folks like to call “elevated genre” — the kind of high-concept, universally appealing, and wildly ambitious entertainment that has made Game of Thrones an international sensation. But, while Westworld may ostensibly serve to fill a programming spot that Thrones will soon leave vacant, it also promises an inventive and rampantly creative landscape all its own, and I’ve broken down a few reasons why.