Real Humans: why Arte's SF series always bury the competition


Since it first aired in 2013, Real Humans continues to stand out as one of the best sci-fi series of the past decade. But why?

If for you, Thursday evening is equivalent to discovering good series, it's because you've probably hung out on Arte these last years. Long before Netflix had fun highlighting phenomena from countries other than the United States,the Franco-German channel specialized in European creations, often managing to create surprise on the side of the spectators.

In the field, it is difficult to miss series from the North, like Borgen and its exemplary political complexity. Thus, we understand what prompted Arte to buy Real Humanson its only devastating pitch in the early 2010s. It's already science fiction, which may seem ambitious for a Swedish series on a limited budget. Then, the creation of Lars Lundström chose to approach the genre through the prism of robotics, in an Asimovian impulse treated with impressive respect. Back to a black diamond to rediscover urgently.

do androids dream of the proletariat?

In any small town in Abba's native land, hubots (a contraction of “humans” and “robots”) are now everywhere. These modern slaves, resembling real men or women, can be bought to do housework, to work in the factory or to fulfill anyone's sexual desires.

< p style="text-align: justify;">Of course, not everyone sees this progress as a good thing, even if the hubot agenda prevents them from harming their creators. Or at least, that was the case before a computer virus led to the liberation of the consciousness of certain robots, determined to lead a revolution to save their fellow humans from oppression.

Released for the premiered on Arte in 2013, Real Humans garnered support with its first season, which attracted no less than 1.3 million viewers. Unfortunately, this success was not commensurate in its country of origin, where the series was stopped after two seasons, for lack of audience. With its ending in water sausage which let consider a sequel, Real Humans simply had its wings clipped, which no doubt played on its acquired aura over time.

Actually , the genius of the series lies in the management of its constraints. Aware that he could not afford expensive futuristic world-building, Lars Lundström shaped his world on the economy. With a little make-up and recognizable facial expressions, the staging makes it easy to distinguish hubots from humans, to better implement them in a society not so far from ours.

The showrunner has also assumed the openly allegorical dimension of his series. However, Real Humans could have found its limit in this postulate, by privileging the meaning of its metaphors to the logic of its universe, even by forcing a deliberate statement on the excesses of technology.


Human After All

However, Lundström managed a small miracle by the quality of his writing alone. From hubot Mimi to lawyer Inger Engman via conspirator Roger, Real Humans was able to condense a phenomenal amount of sub-plots, without ever seems indigestible. Each arc serves its purpose, while the edit builds a satisfying crescendo as it intersects them as it goes.

In this way, the series avoids the trap of the incriminating pamphlet, and prefers on the contrary to constitute a web of opposing points of view on the central issues of the story. It speaks of course of the class struggle, but also of the condition of women, of the place of minorities (sexual and ethnic) and more generally of discrimination in all its forms.

Lundström could have yielded to a comfortable political facility, but Real Humans prefers to take the form of a pebble in the shoe, which spends its time interrogating our own system of thought and our prejudices about the situation through the richness of its characters, never despised or under-exploited.

Roger (brilliantly played by Leif Andrée) is undoubtedly the best example. In the first episodes, this divorced husband only feels an undying hatred towards the hubots, who take positions in his workplace and cause his wife to prefer a synthetic being to him. What the character represents is the logical fear of scientific unconsciousness, showcasing progress without even questioning its potential harmful consequences.

And then, as he infiltrates a liberation group, his gaze begins to evolve, and to confront him with a love he didn't think possible. There lies all the brilliance of Real Humans: questioning our feelings, and the illogicality that seems to precisely define our humanity. Can we transmit and recreate something so intangible? If the heart of the hubots can boom, we let you guess the effect of the series of Lars Lundström on your thrilling.

Real Humans is available in full on, and is rebroadcast from July 21, 2022 on Arte


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