I was invited to check out the first episode of HBO’s Westworld series (which’ll be ten episodes in total) at the Metrograph Theater here in NYC yesterday night, and it completely fucked me up. (In like, a good “I want to definitely watch the next episode” way, but also a “I am currently having an existential crisis” way.)
Let me backtrack for a minute…I have been excited about the premiere of this show since I saw its trailer; it was inspired by Michael Crichton’s Westworld, and it takes place between the past and future, offering a look at artificial consciousness and the people who are willing to exploit the hell out of it. (Think: people obsessed with revenge porn and/or equivalent bad things decide to live out their fantasies with zero repercussions in a world that is built to be whatever the highest bidder wants, all at the expense of the people who “live” there and are built to repeatedly forget.)
So this is a trippy fucking concept, right? And I found that I had to excuse myself to use the restroom about halfway through because my brain was ACTUALLY imploding. While I was washing my hands and looking at my reflection in the mirror, I decided to ask the girl who was replenishing all of the towels the following question: “Do you ever just wonder what in the fuck you are doing with your life?” In retrospect, this sounds like a dickhead inquiry, but I meant it 100% sincerely, and I was more speaking aloud to myself more than anybody else. (Also, she said “Yes, all of the time.”)
Like, what are we doing here? What happens when we stop being here? What if even the shittiest existence is better than not existing at all? It doesn’t help that we’re fast approaching the one year anniversary of my dad’s death and that I went on to walk home to Bushwick in the rain full of IPAs and philosophical conundrums, but I feel like even “normal” people will be hugely provoked (mentally, spiritually, etc.) by watching this show. What does it all mean? What is reality? What is morality? What is MORTALITY? What are we doing with the time we have? (Even writing about it makes me feel like I need to take a nap.)
Bottom line: it’s a beautifully-shot, fantastically-written show. The cast is insane (Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood and Ed Harris, to name a few) and they manage to build out a terrifying fantasy into a believable reality. If you’re a fan of Black Mirror (or just like to engage your neurons every once in a while) this is most definitely a must-watch for you.
(But if anyone needs me, I will be continuing to ponder the meaning of life for at least another twenty-four hours.)
Westworld airs Sunday October 2nd at 9pm EST on HBO. (Watch it, stupid.)