“Mr. Robot” is the best show currently on television. There, I said it. And mark my words, with this much buzz and excitement over such an audacious debut season, awards should follow. If you have yet to delve into the labyrinthine mysteries of “Mr. Robot,” then binge it as fast as possible in anticipation of the show’s season finale, airing this Wednesday (Aug. 26) on USA. Then join the throngs of admirers on social media to pick apart the plot twists, hidden clues and classic film references with the enthusiasm reserved for other established hits on AMC, FX, Showtime and HBO.
“Mr. Robot” is best described as a dark and riveting cyber-thriller about Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), an antisocial IT worker who is recruited by the shadowy leader of an underground anarchist hacker group (Christian Slater) who wants to destabilize and ultimately destroy corporate America.But anyone invested in this show as much as I am knows that this description merely scratches the surface of what this show has become in such a relatively short time. Nobody wants to say too much, in the fear of spoiling the surprise twists and turns that await anyone new to the show.
I spend each episode wondering when the next plot twist will stealthily reveal itself. I watch for hidden clues so that I might decrypt the real motivations behind each of the main characters. And I marvel at the audacious visual style employed by series creator and showrunner Sam Esmail, who wrote the original script as a feature, and then transformed it into a series, with the first 10-episode season representing what would have been the original film’s first 30 minutes. New York City has never looked this drably dystopian, as Esmail draws aesthetic inspiration from cinematic auteurs (Kubrick, Fincher, Scorsese) in bringing his gothic cyber-nightmare tapestry to monochromatic life.
Led by the mesmerising Malek in a vulnerably and unnervingly brittle performance, the show’s impressive ensemble includes former teen heartthrob Slater as the enigmatic figurehead “Mr. Robot,” breakthrough Swedish newcomer Martin Wallström, character actor Michel Gill (“House of Cards”), new faces Carly Chaikin and Portia Doubleday and Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Gloria Reuben (“ER”).
“Mr Robot” has received hosannas from critics since it debuted this summer, with a jaw-dropping 97% rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 79 over at Metacritic. TV Guide’s Matt Roush calls it’s “summer's most wildly original new series”, while USA Today’s Robert Bianco leads the chorus of raves for the show’s leading man by proclaiming “[you] haven't quite seen a performance like Malek's, who drags us deeply into Elliot's wide-eyed psychosis and crushing loneliness, or a hero like Elliot – an unexpectedly sympathetic morphine addict with a history of delusions and psychotic breaks”.
With critics firmly on board, USA Network has an awards contender on its hands for one of its original drama series, after coming close with solid offerings like “White Collar,” “Burn Notice” and particularly “Suits,” the network’s current flagship success story. Forbes’ Merrill Barr says it best, by pointing out that "'Mr. Robot' could be the series that finally, after years of ignorance, puts a deserving network among the likes of HBO, AMC and FX in terms of acclaim.”
First up for 'Mr. Robot' will be the Golden Globes. The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has shown a penchant for nominating genre dramas for their freshman seasons, including “Alias” (2002), “Prison Break” (2005), “Heroes” (2006) and “True Blood” (2008). In 1994, the HFPA bestowed their top drama prize on “The X-Files” well before it became a mega-hit. Ten years later, FX’s subversive “Nip/Tuck” won the Best TV Drama Series trophy; that was back when basic cable wasn’t the awards machine it is these days. This year, the HFPA continued its love affair with the new and shiny by crowning Showtime’s “The Affair” as Best TV Drama and also singled out Ruth Wilson with a Best TV Drama Actress trophy.
I’ll be back on the edge of my seat this Wednesday night, relishing what is bound to be an explosive conclusion to what has been an audacious rollercoaster of a debut season, no doubt tearing my hair out as we wait for the return of “Mr. Robot” next year.
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Photo: USA Network/NBC Universal