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Let’s Fall Down the Rabbit Hole of Dispatches From Elsewhere

Jason Segel stars in AMC's new thriller.

Jason Segel spent the 2000s as part of the ensemble of the hit series How I Met Your Mother, in addition to becoming an Apatow staple with hit films like I Love You, Man and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Now, he returns to television in a twisty new anthology series he created titled Dispatches From Elsewhere.

The series stars Segel, along with Sally Field, André Benjamin, and Eve Lindley (Mr. Robot) as four people who become obsessed with a mysterious game described as “a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life”,which soon takes over their lives (and no, it’s not Dungeons & Dragons). Richard E. Grant also stars as the mysterious spokesman for the Jejune Institute, which oversees the game and refers to themselves as “purveyors of nonchalance.”

But is it just an immersive gaming experience, or part of a wider and more sinister international conspiracy? The series is inspired by an interactive puzzle game/immersive art experience created by artist Jeff Hull and his company, Nonchalance, which swept San Francisco in 2008.

The game started with a series of weird flyers posted throughout the city, directing passersby to visit a nondescript office building referred to as the Jejune Institute. From there, players followed clues and met with other players to uncover an expansive puzzle. The experience shares parallels with David Fincher’s cult thriller The Game, and inspired its own documentary The Institute by Spencer McCall.

The series has a terrific cast, and trans representation with Lindley’s character Simone, as Segel’s love interest. Lindley said of her role, “I read the script and I was so moved … It was one of the best depictions of a trans character I ever read. I felt close to her. Jason allowed me to interject a lot of myself into her.”

Since his comedy work, Segel has dabbled in dramatic roles, but Dispatches From Elsewhere will be his first dramatic series. Segel called the project an “artistic check-in,” saying “Who I was was dictated to me for the longest time — and I wanted to explore that.”

Immersive gaming, from VR to escape rooms to guided experiences like Accomplice, tap into something that is so often lacking in the modern world: a tangible sense of community.

While social media and the internet virtually unite us, nothing quite compares to sharing a physical space and bond with people, where you are all working towards solving a game or a puzzle. There’s a reason games have been part of the human experience since time began. And then there’s the greater draw: that beyond our mundane lives, there is something extraordinary just beyond our grasp, a greater puzzle or mystery that helps us make sense of the world. It’s an irresistible albeit scary offer.

Dispatches From Elsewhere premieres March 1 on AMC.

(via io9, image: screencap/AMC)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.