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Most of my shows will air their new seasons next year. So I've been looking for new ones to watch. I stumbled upon this one while looking for BBC America shows.

Humans is a UK TV show that explores the possibilities when you combine artificial intelligence with our gadget-crazy world. The result is a mass-produced android that looks human, can perform simple tasks and even comes with upgrades and adult options.

Since they're high-tech, functional and extremely user-friendly, people buy them from stores like the latest iPhones and use them to perform menial tasks like housework. The androids, or synths as they're called in the show, work as newspaper boys, shopping assistants, fruit pickers, personal trainers, healthcare providers, you name it.

John Hawkins buys one on impulse when his wife goes on a work trip and doesn't come home for several days. His wife, Laura, objects to it, saying that the synths could mess up the kids. Her concern is perhaps legitimate. The synths look and act so much like humans, it's easy for people to slip and forget the natural barrier between organic humans and their artificial creations, using them as a sort of surrogate for everything. Kids, especially, are vulnerable because they have not yet perfected the mechanism of drawing lines.


Or are they?

Because kids may be more adept than the adults at distinguishing between tools and the real thing. Sophie, Laura's toddler, names the synth that her Dad bought "Anita," not because it's the name of her best friend who moved away, but because she liked the name. She uses Anita to tell her bedtime stories, even prefers Anita over her mom, who "is always in a hurry to finish." To her, it's simply natural to use Anita for these things.

Perhaps it is the adults who are having difficulty adjusting to the newest gadgets. To them, the synths, while useful, are a threat. Laura, for example, feels uncomfortable that Anita is taking over the traditional role of the mother in the family -- a role that she feels entitled to even though she's not really doing a good job at it. This is augmented by the fact that synths are specifically created to take over these tasks from humans in order to "free them up" to do other things they want to do but do not otherwise have the time to do because they're bugged down by menial tasks.

What people like Laura are beginning to understand is that these little everyday tasks that we take for granted make up our relationships with other people, and as synths take over them more and more, humans feel even more isolated from other humans.

The humans in the show adapt to this feeling of isolation in varied ways. Laura's eldest daughter is outright hostile towards Anita, whose kind she perceives will take over many of the jobs otherwise relegated to and reserved for her generation. George, an older guy who lost his wife, uses his old synth model as a repository of memories and refuses all offers of free upgrades or replacements.

We can have an entire show about all these things and it's still make a very good show. They can go for the atmospheric storytelling of Les Revenants and I'd still be on board. But Humans goes beyond that. It shows us the other side: sentient androids.

The first episode of the show features a subplot of a guy leading a group of sentient androids through the woods. Where they're going, we don't know but we can only assume they're going someplace where the sentient androids can be themselves without fear of being brought back to the factory to be "fixed." One of these androids happens to be the synth that the Hawkins family later buys and names "Anita." In the end, all the androids save for one are captured by mercenaries who sell them to companies as labor (one is employed as a fruit picker, the other as a prostitute). Anita is lucky somewhat because she ends up with a family. Still, when you think about the fact that these robots have achieved sentience and want nothing more than to be free, a gilded cage is still a cage.





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