‘Upload’, the beyond of ‘The Office’ and ‘Black Mirror’ | TV

Other series recommended by Fifth Season

It’s been eight years since the American version of The Office. It’s the same. Even in the face of the weekly avalanche of sizzling news, the series starring Steve Carell remains one of the most viewed on platforms and one of the most talked about on social media. More than it ever was while aired. There is no chain that does not look for a worthy heiress. A comedy that any type of public sees in a loop as one who goes down daily for bread. In seeking to encapsulate that triumph, in addition, the production companies have made their screenwriters the most sought-after names in comedy. They, however, and thanks to the comfort of that success, decided to try and create projects that got off track.

After a decade of working together, Mike Schur and Greg Daniels got caught up in ideas. When finished The Office (and Parks and Recreation), Schur launched a series on the ethics that define death and life from the afterlife, heaven and hell. I call her The Good Place and captured the same magic again. Daniels, for his part, was signed by Amazon Prime Video and in 2020 he released his first project on the platform, one long gestated in his mind. It was called Upload, and, also, it was a series on the ethics that define our death and life in the afterlife. Two who share a script table end up being of the same condition.

Upload It begins when a promising young man dies in an accident (or not) with his autonomous car. But in 2033 nobody really dies. His mind and his supposed soul are automatically transferred, at the request of his girlfriend, to an idyllic virtual world where he will wait for her until she dies. Everything is now at your fingertips, for a small fee. Everything except a human connection. This perhaps confusing argument went, unfortunately, too unnoticed.

Greg Daniels, during a course at a Washington high school last year in Los Angeles, California.Alberto E. Rodriguez / AFP

In addition to sharing thematic about second chances, both The Good Place What Upload They are science fiction comedies and gigantic concepts, reminiscent of Albert Brooks’ cinema (Heaven coming soon). It is a terrain that has been banned on television for being the perfect recipe for long-term disaster. But deep down, they both work for the same thing that it did The Office, and any television comedy worth its salt. Something very far from any bombastic concept. They all have a bright and optimistic soul, and imperfect characters who evolve because they seek to be better people. It is difficult not to feel identified with them.

We could say that Upload is the bastard daughter of The Office and Black Mirror. A very complicated universe that only works because it is drawn on very simple concepts. In this utopia, the afterlife is something that can be bought, a virtual reality application in which everything is a business. But any utopia has a few drops of dystopia to snag. This afterlife is full of annoying ads and ad placement. Everything here still depends on your social status, and inequalities get even worse. From the hotel where you are assigned to the quality of the breakfast (because, even if you’re dead, you don’t need to eat, there can’t be paradise without an open breakfast bar).

This impossible idea was born from the most unexpected place. In the eighties, Daniels spent his days walking around New York looking for inspiration to build sketches on Saturday Night Live. A CD ad made his lightbulb go on one afternoon: how far can digital go? How many analog things can be digitized? Could we digitize ourselves? An illustrious idea that, although it had no signs of succeeding as a gag short-lived comic, it has become even more current over time. Already in 2008 he tried to turn it into a book, although little did he then imagine that it would end up being a company dedicated precisely to selling them that would end up bringing his prediction to fruition. It was a luck of the destiny and the ideal sample that the capitalism and the technology ends up adapting any idea to turn it into profit. If the possibility existed, Amazon would be the first to privatize death.

That is the big concept. Then there is the intimate, and more importantly. In the most desperate places, hope is also born. The more complicated the concept, the simpler its structure has to be. Thus the connection of a good comedy with its audience is introduced: their particular Jim and Pam now represent the impossible love between a digitized dead man and his adviser (or angel). Robbie Amell’s charming serenity and Andy Allo’s glamorous loser aura have nothing to envy Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The unresolved sexual tension passes through the pixel this time. It’s Heart turns the Daniels series into a futuristic look that is, at least emotionally, much more realistic than Black Mirror, without that negativity sometimes imposed on his back. San Junípero in long version. The message is born, yes, from absurdity and contradiction. Like existence itself; sometimes funny and sometimes sad.

But none of his message is sad. From a seemingly harmless shell, filled with the light and color of a self-driving car utopia, Upload He ends up talking about the important questions of humanity, from savage and vampiric capitalism (the irony of Amazon is not lost on us…) to toxic love. Concepts as timeless as second chances and free will in a mix of genres that even dares with a Silicon Valley-born corporate mystery. You enter the series for the laughs and its technological ideas, and you stay for a speech about the need to connect (and connect) that could not be more current. 10 chapters full of humanity for the digital age. We give it a like and we subscribe.

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‘Upload’, the beyond of ‘The Office’ and ‘Black Mirror’ | TV