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TV Series Review

Humans—real humans—are pretty messy. We won't rinse our dishes no matter how many times we're told. We're prone to let our attention wander at inopportune times. We cry over spilled milk and laugh at inappropriate jokes. We're frustrating, unpredictable and just barely domesticated.

And there are times when we look at the people in our lives—those whom we would say we love more than anything—and secretly think to ourselves, Wouldn't it be great if I could just make* them do what I want them to do*?

Well, humanity is no more malleable in Humans that it is in the real world. On the other hand, there are some disturbingly human facsimiles that might deliver on that fantasy of "people" just doing what we want them to do.

Therein lies the problem.

Perfect Robots, Imperfect People?

Humans, an eight-episode program produced jointly by AMC, Britain's Channel 4 and a company called Kudos, unveils a world in which lifelike robots—Synths—are all the rage. They serve as caregivers and janitors, golf caddies and sex toys. Every harried, well-to-do family seems to have one to help around the house, and the British government prescribes them to the sickly like antibiotics.

For loads of people, that's just great. Who couldn't use a hand folding the laundry? Why, in many ways, they're way better than real people! No problem with that, right?


"Why would I have a problem with something that makes my existence pointless?" says Mattie Hawkins, a teen who's pretty hostile to her family's pre-owned Synth.

Mattie's reaction is a little extreme. But it turns out lots of folks are less than thrilled with the ubiquity of Synths. Peter Drummond's government-assigned Synthetic, Simon, has been a great help to his invalid wife, Jill. But Peter's not happy with the lingering massages Simon gives her, or the fact that she seems to prefer Simon's company to his own. Dr. George Millican—the original inventor of the Synth—now must rely on them for his own care. But the new model sent to take care of him seems more jailor than helper.

And then there's Anita, the Synth now serving as a pretty housemaid to the Hawkins family. She seems just about perfect. Too perfect, if you ask Laura, the family matriarch. She makes sandwiches a little too perfectly, cares for her children a little too much. And Laura can't help but feel that the Synth is more than just a sophisticated machine.

It seems to be watching her.

She's right. As perfect as these Synths may be, a few are hungering for the imperfection of humanity—the unprogrammed thoughts and feelings we enjoy, the ability to make decisions, the right to live and to everything that comes with independent existence.

Another Take on A.I.

Ever since God created us, it seems, we've wondered whether it might one day be possible for us to manufacture life, too—or at least, reasonable facsimiles of human life—through witchcraft or science or both.

And never has the possibility of such a creation felt so close. Scientists are creating more skilled, more lifelike robots all the time. Some technological theorists believe it's just a matter of a time before our computers become self-aware.

Those elements come together in Humans, a disturbingly thorough and surprisingly thoughtful exploration of future human-robot relations. While there may not be a lot of original ideas here that weren't brought up in, say, A.I. Artificial Intelligence or Blade Runner or even Frankenstein, Humans digs into them in interesting, compelling ways.

Only Human After All

But, alas, compelling television often goes hand-in-hand with problematic content these days. And Humans is no outlier.

While the show sports a TV-14 rating on AMC, its content feels more MA than anything. Human-robot sex (in myriad variations) is a frequent conversation topic, with human (or human-looking) forms on nearly full display in provocative, titillating encounters. Violence can be bloody and wince-inducing, too, with people and Synths alike suffering seriously painful-looking wounds. The s-word and other profanities are commonly uttered unbleeped, at least on my iTunes version of the show.

We don't need to say that most of this content is completely gratuitous and unnecessary, of course. No one needs to hear a bevy of s-words to contemplate AMC's provocative brave, new world. But it shouldn't surprise us that the show's creators included all that material anyway. In some ways, we humans—at least the humans that create our television shows—are surprisingly predictable.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Humans: July 5, 2015 - "Episode 2"



Readability Age Range



Gemma Chan as Anita; Tom Goodman-Hill as Joe Hawkins; Katherine Parkinson as Laura Hawkins; Sope Dirisu as Fred; Lucy Carless as Mattie Hawkins; Ivanno Jeremiah as Synth Max; Colin Morgan as Leo; William Hurt as George Millican; Pixie Davies as Sophie Hawkins; Emily Berrington as Niska; Rebecca Front as Vera






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

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