TV Review: Mr. Robot


Airs: Wednesdays @ 10pm EDT on USA Network

Review: Pilot

USA is very excited about this show.  For months, I have seen cryptic ads for the show.  They released the show early on other mediums (streaming services) and got a large audience.  They were so excited that they actually renewed it for a second season before the pilot even aired on the network.  I can see why they were excited.

Elliot is a hacker.  He also works for a cyber-security firm helping corporations protect themselves from…hackers.  He hates every second of working for them.  It makes him the perfect target for recruitment from a secret organization (or does it?  More later.)

I found Elliot to be a very well constructed character.  He is very good at what he does (hacking, and anti-hacking).  He is very protective – he rescues a dog from a jerk, he protects his best friend and his psychiatrist.  He is also extremely flawed – he has severe social anxiety, with paranoia and delusions.  The delusions make him an extremely Unreliable Narrator.  Even he questions what he is seeing, so the audience also has to wonder what is real and what isn’t.

It’s not Ted Moseby (How I Met Your Mother) unreliable, it’s I-can’t-trust-a-word-this-guy-says unreliable.  I term this kind of extreme unreliable narrator, the Mind Screw (I actually call it something else, but we’ll go with Mind Screw).  Here are some examples of the Mind Screw – [Movie spoiler alert] Fight Club and Black Swan (Fight Club for Women) [/Movie spoiler alert] I love a good Mind Screw story.  The problem, however, is that they are extremely difficult to do well.  Most of the time, they are just confusing or stupid [any non-Sixth Sense movie by M. Night Shyamalan].  In addition, you’ll note that the two examples under that spoiler are movies.  Movies can wrap it up in their allotted time, and show what is real and what isn’t.  TV shows don’t have that luxury.  They eventually need to tell us what is/isn’t real otherwise they risk losing the audience.  Once they do tell us, they still need a good hook to keep us watching.  Right now that hook looks to be [Mr. Robot spoiler alert] Robin Hood, with a massive redistribution of wealth from the rich, greedy corporations.  [/Mr. Robot spoiler alert]

I think they are off to a great start; will they be able to keep the story going?  Even if they do, I can see viewers tuning out eventually.  I think this should have a relatively short shelf life (2-3 seasons), but I imagine if it is successful they will drag it out much longer than it should air.

WWYT Rating: 8.00 [Legend]

Nielsen Ratings: 0.5 plus nearly 3 million people watched through other mediums before the pilot aired.

Renewal Prediction: 100%.  Already renewed for 2nd season


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