Westworld is hands down 100 percent my new television obsession.
There’s been a lot of buzz around the new series — a lot of it not so good. Westworld definitely had its share of production setbacks that led to some rumors that the series wasn’t strong. But that was just the beginning. A contract leak reportedly proved that extras were being asked to sign off on orgy scenes to be part of the production, and that got a lot of people nervous about what the series had in store. Further, early reviews of the series pointed to heavy violence against women that was gratuitous.
Let me tell you, after watching the premiere tonight, I can confirm that none of those rumors is true.
Is there violence in the series? Absolutely. Is there sexual violence? Kind of. It’s never actually shown on camera, just implied, as star Evan Rachel Wood promised. Is it gratuitous? Not even a little. Is there a bigger point to this series beyond the vapid trappings of human impulse? No doubt.
The series paints a broader picture of the evil side of humanity, one we’ve only just begun to explore through the show. The violence depicted isn’t meant for pleasure or enjoyment; it’s meant to elicit questions of people’s darker impulses — questions the show spins masterfully.
When the bandit was caught and killed in tonight’s episode, as the couple posed for pictures next to the dead robot’s body, I felt sick to my stomach. Yet how is this different from trappers and hunters who kill for sport and then glorify their pursuits?
There were also threads of humans beating on humans while onlookers watched with detached enjoyment. This again is so eerily similar to our real society, where men watch men beat each other to a pulp for sport in UFC fighting and boxing. Even football, which is arguably America’s new pastime, has an element of brutality to it that can’t be denied.
What is it within humanity that gets satisfaction from watching violence? It’s always been in us. At least as far back as the gladiator fights and beyond.
Maybe it’s time we take a hard look at what makes humans tick rather than ignore the clear impulse a lot of us harbor. Thanks to Westworld, we’ll be getting up close and personal with the darker side of humanity.
The show plays like an essay on that violent impulse within humans, wrapped in the gorgeous package of a fascinating sci-fi story. Thank God J.J. Abrams is back in the TV game. Clearly Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the break he needed to return to the top of television content.
I can’t wait to see how this season of Westworld plays out and the lessons it imparts on the depths of humanity.