Mr. Robot is an American drama series created by Sam Esmail for the USA Network. The show focuses on Elliot Alderson (played by Rami Malek), a cybersecurity engineer recruited to join a group of hacktivists called "fsociety." Their goal - destroy all debt records by destroying the financial data of E Corp (which Elliot calls Evil Corp), the largest conglomerate in the world. Throughout the show’s four seasons, Elliot moonlights as a cyber-vigilante. The first scene in S1 shows Elliot pulling a cyber Batman, smoothly exposing a person hosting pedophile content. He is also often shown trying to help individuals that are trapped in bad situations in life using his Neo-level hacking. While trying to help others, Elliot himself struggles with mental illness and staying in contact with his friends and family.
Season one debuted on USA Network on June 24, 2015, to modest ratings. The final season concluded on December 22, 2019. All four seasons of Mr. Robot are unique and the writers are able to juggle multiple storylines at once in a fascinating way. The series does a good job informing viewers of the safety risks illegal hacking and social media can cause. The writing on this show is sharp and the characters are layered with complex and multifaceted personalities. I think the performances- especially from Rami Malek, Martin Wallström, and Stephanie Corneliussn are incredible and deserve endless awards. Mr. Robot has some of the most stunning cinematography ever seen on television, a big reason for the show’s success. The show has received numerous awards and critical acclaim while spawning a variety of video games and a novel tie-in called Mr. Robot: Red Wheelbarrow, which follows the events of season 1.
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When sitting down to watch the show be aware that if you focus on just the hacking, it can seem very superficial. The protagonist’s grasp on reality is tenuous at best, which gives you a “Fight Club” vibe. When I first started watching the first season, I was surprised by how different it was in relation to the storylines, themes, and visual presentation.
Throughout the series, there are many examples of unconventional filmmaking which is used to introduce the audience to the big heavy that Elliot must defeat. During the opening minutes of S01E02 Elliot is quickly acquainted with Tyrell Wellick, the interim CTO of E. Corp. The purpose of Tyrell’s visit is to recruit Elliot to be head of the cybersecurity division of E. Corp. When Wellick says, “Power belongs to the people who take it...often the will to take, is the only thing that is necessary”(Episode 2) the audience is introduced to two dominant ideals presented in the series. In the span of two episodes, Elliot is recruited by two different organizations: “fsociety” and “E-Corp”.
The series functions as more than just a basic TV drama. Instead of just providing a story, it shows a journey of the individual and the society the individual in which he/she partakes. At the beginning of the first season, the protagonist has complete control of his surroundings, other people, and himself. This gives way to Elliot realizing that not only has he lost that control that he holds so dear, but that he never had that control in the first place. It would be a scary realization for anyone.
The Final Word
I believe it is also worth discussing the fact that the show dedicates so much time to the character of Mr. Robot, and, at times, shows him to be sympathetic when he is actually a violent abuser. While he is Elliot’s alter ego and obviously important to the story, another abusive white man being portrayed sympathetically is not something viewers need. While Elliot confessed that he missed Mr. Robot in the season three finale, and this is something that many abuse survivors feel towards their abusers, the narrative never explicitly claimed that their relationship is toxic. The final season focuses on human relationships. At the end of the day, Mr. Robot is a story about healing and overcoming the obstacles that life puts in our way. Yes, believe the hype, Mr. Robot is a great TV show but do not take my word for it, check it out for yourself.
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