Mr. Robot: A Beautiful Dystopia

A celebration of Sam Esmail’s masterpiece

“Hello, friend.”

Mr. Robot, created by Sam Esmail, is by far one of the greatest shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting through. It’s a bold statement for sure, but it’s one that I’m fully confident in sharing. It’s a show that somehow managed to land itself on my extremely small radar back in 2015 and ever since then I’ve been obsessed.

Thinking back to when I first watched Mr. Robot, I was laughably naive. What started off as the “edgy hacker show”, Mr. Robot managed to slowly transform into something completely different. Mr. Robot, over its 4 seasons, morphed into something much bigger than just being an accurate depiction of hacking. Mr. Robot turns into an incredibly powerful statement on the issues surrounding our society, the most important one being mental health.

Elliot, the anti-social hero of Mr. Robot, is plagued with issues surrounding his mental health that affects his relationships and views on the world. We learn from the very start that Elliot suffers from social anxiety. “I don’t know how to talk to people.” It’s a topic that hits painfully close to home and although I’ve overcome my fear of social situations since, being able to see a character that perfectly captured how I felt at the time was incredibly powerful.

What starts as a plot device for Elliot becomes something that is integral to the show. Mr. Robot rewards its audience for showing patience, as we don’t see him try and face his anxiety until the last season. I’ll avoid spoilers here, but seeing Elliot finally realize just why he suffers from his anxiety in the final season is both relieving and incredibly heartbreaking.

Mr. Robot manages to flawlessly switch genres between each episode, from being a crime drama to a psychological thriller to even a Rom-Com at one point, Mr. Robot is an impossible show to define by a genre as it simply has too many. It’s unpredictable, allowing the audience to share the same paranoia that Elliot suffers from as they anticipate what Mr. Robot might become next. There’s even a few points where Mr. Robot starts to lean into the horror genre, showing clear influences from horror classics such as The Shining. It’s made clear from the start that Sam Esmail has an incredible respect for film and pays tribute to it by creating a “Chameleon” of a show, sharing its influences from a massive range of genres.

Mr. Robot, due to Sam Esmail planning the entire thing from start to finish, doesn’t really have any satisfying payoffs until the last season. It’s probably why most people who were initially attracted by the first season never cared to return for the second. Mr. Robot asks for a massive amount of trust from the audience to try and see it through to the end. If you stick with it, you do eventually get answers to the many questions you have and it’s incredibly satisfying to watch.

Elliot, suffering from a horrific case of Dissociative Personality Disorder, continuously breaks the fourth wall by speaking to the audience. He constantly refers to us as his “friend”, as if we’re the only ones that he can truly trust and rely on. Mr. Robot feels like more than just a window into Elliot’s life, as we’re constantly reminded that we have a part to play in the show.

Without getting into spoilers, Mr. Robot manages to include the audience as if they were a character within the show, with Elliot at points becoming frustrated with the viewer for hiding information from him. Elliot’s paranoia leads him to also hide information from the audience, a plot device that becomes incredibly unique and rewarding for people who pay attention and stay until the end. Mr. Robot has some mind-blowing twists throughout and it makes watching the show through again a completely different experience. It feels like a brand new show after every truth is revealed.

What makes Mr. Robot so unique to other shows is the fact that nearly every single episode is written and directed by one person, Sam Esmail. This is the main reason as to why Mr. Robot feels so consistent from start to finish. Mr. Robot was originally planned to be a feature-length film but with Esmail realizing the potential of the plot, he decided to turn it into a show. Being able to watch a series that has been planned with meticulous accuracy is a breath of fresh air. It breaks away from the feeling that some shows have of being made up as they go along until they crash and burn. I’m looking at you Game Of Thrones

The amount of creativity that Esmail displays is breathtaking at times. Mr. Robot features some “special” episodes throughout its 4 seasons that deliver some incredible surprises. From an episode that is entirely filmed as a one-shot sequence to an episode that spoofs sitcoms from the 90s, Mr. Robot continuously manages to display an endless amount of creativity that is fueled by Esmail’s talent and passion for filmmaking. If you have an interest in filmmaking such as myself, Mr. Robot is an incredible show to watch just for its cinematography alone. Not at any point did Mr. Robot feel like a product more than a story.

Mr. Robot, especially in its second season, can become incredibly dark and disturbing at times. Subjects such as depression, anxiety and suicide are displayed throughout and it can sometimes feel like a lot. Again, the subject matter that the show introduces to the audience serves more of a purpose than just being devices for the plot. Mr. Robot explores its themes with empathy and care and it really shines through, especially in its last season.

Mr. Robot also explores topics such as capitalism, with the whole show focusing on the “top 1% of the top 1%” and the issues it brings to society. Watching Elliot furiously rip into someone like Steve Jobs for making billions off of impoverished children is a joy, to say the least. The same can be said for a scene in which Elliot explodes into a rant about Christianity and how the system exploits people for money. For me personally, it was amazing to see a show tackle these issues in such a brutally honest way. I’m not sure if I was meant to enjoy scenes like this but I certainly did.

Mr. Robot is the only show where I genuinely struggle to find any flaws. If you asked me for any as I was still watching it then I could probably list a few, but after seeing Mr. Robot’s conclusion it’s impossible to give an answer. Mr. Robot rewards patience and attention with some extremely satisfying and emotional payoffs. It’s a celebration of filmmaking and creative storytelling, mirroring and paying tribute to the works of talented figures such as David Fincher.

It’s brutal explosions of violence and dark themes pave the way towards an incredibly emotional core that rarely shows itself until the very end. It’s a powerhouse of emotion that doesn’t pull any of its punches and by the end, you’ll want to dive back in and watch it all again. I cannot express my love for this show enough and if you have any interest in what has been mentioned above, I sincerely insist that you dive into this wonderfully creative and overlooked masterpiece.

Self-proclaimed connoisseur of anything you can view on a screen. Also super into horror stuff if you couldn’t tell already...

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