As a television addict, I’m always on the lookout for shows that pop up in the main stream (call me a bandwagoner, it’s ok, I won’t get offended), so when the news of a new HBO show called Westworld hit me, I was immediately intrigued. I put it on my radar and figured I’d wait a couple weeks to see what people said about it before trying it out for myself. Well, the critical acclaim for the show blew up instantly, and it was trending on Twitter before I even knew what is was about. I then decided to sit down and watch it because it appeared to be the Next Big Thing in television.
If you don’t know the premise of Westworld, it’s pretty simple — a couple hundred or so years into the future, Artificial Intelligence has grown to new standards and humans have figured out how to build robots so lifelike they’re about a spark away from being sentient. This technology has, of course, been capitalized on and thus Westworld is born, an Old Western themed amusement park in which people can pay to live among the humanoid robots, called “hosts” and basically do whatever they want. It’s essentially a Cowboy version of Jurassic Park. The park allows the guests to indulge in their darkest desires in a safe and controlled place, where the hosts they kill will be reanimated the next day, all their memories wiped, and there are no rules except “have fun”. Of course, trouble brews when a few of the hosts start to remember visions of the past, and their consciousness grows to alarming levels.
On the surface, this show looks awesome. Literally, it looks awesome. The visuals in this series are stunning and the sets/costumes/makeup really blow you away. The acting is also superb, and it’s fun to watch a host go from playing their role to their default state. HBO is known for their top notch film quality. But after that the show is pretty…average.
Did you hear that internet! I said it! I said Westworld was average! My main issue with Westworld is that the plot is really basic. We don’t even spend any real time in the park before the hosts start to form consciousness. I thought the most interesting commentary on the park was when guests treated it like a video game, in which they had no qualms about their actions or choices. It was intriguing when the show brought up issues like the gameplay’s option for guests to become a “bad guy,” and whether these were their true character traits or they were just trying them out because they were able to without any consequences. The show just barely touches on this issue, which was disappointing because the main plot was boring in comparison.
The thematic message over the show is hit over viewer’s heads pretty hard — these robots are sentient beings! How do we dare treat them that way?! And then, of course, you have your couple Big Shot Money Maker characters that don’t have any feelings for the robots and just want the park to work properly so it can generate income.
In my opinion, its execution was just too ambitious for its ten episode arc. Westworld should have either been a movie and wrapped up quick, or it should have slowed down and explored the depth of the park and the concept. It landed somewhere in between and for me, the ending just didn’t quite work.
All that having been said, Westworld has a lot of great things to offer. It’s definetely worth watching and forming opinion about for yourself. Let’s put it this way — Westworld would be by far the best show across a cable network scene, that might even revive people’s lost hope in mainstream channels, but on HBO, it’s just ok. I give Westworld a solid B.