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Utopia Is Amazon’s Next Big Sci-Fi Series Event

But will audiences be able to stomach a series about a global pandemic?

Amazon Studios has dropped the first full trailer for their upcoming conspiracy drama series Utopia. The series stars John Cusack, Rainn Wilson, Sasha Lane (Hellboy), Dan Byrd (Cougar Town), and Cory Michael Smith (Gotham), along with many more familiar faces. The synopsis for the series reads, “When the conspiracy in the elusive comic Utopia is real, a group of young fans come together to embark on a high-stakes twisted adventure to use what they uncover to save themselves, each other, and ultimately humanity.”

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Comic book nerds saving the world from a vast conspiracy? Yeah okay Amazon, we’re interested.

The series is a remake of the British series of the same name, which aired on Channel 4 in 2013 and quickly became a cult hit. The American adaptation was originally set up at HBO with David Fincher attached and Rooney Mara starring, but never came to fruition. Now, Amazon is taking a crack at the twisty series with Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Sharp Objects) at the helm. And according to Flynn, her take on the series will include her signature dark tone.

In a Comic-Con@Home panel for the series, Flynn said, “My idea was to not only Americanize it — and deal with things that are resonant to Americans in a lot of ways — but to also make things gritty and dirty and nasty in a very realistic way, … Whereas [Dennis Kelly, the U.K. show’s writer] took his cue from the graphic novels themselves, I took my cue more from the ’70s paranoia thrillers that I love.”

But according to the trailer, a major plot point of the series will be a national pandemic and the response to it. Although the series was filmed well before the coronavirus began, it’s a macabre bit of timing. It also begs a larger question: as our real life pandemic rages on, will audiences want to watch a series about a fictional pandemic?

It’s a question that we will no doubt be asking of all sorts of post-coronavirus pop culture. When film and television return, will they directly address the pandemic? Will they gloss over it? Or will they be forced by filming conditions and safety measures to tackle it head on?

Of course, we still watch war films during war-time. And we have an insatiable appetite for horror and dystopian science fiction. But will watching an onscreen pandemic repel audiences, or will they flock to it? Of course, it all depends on how large a role the pandemic plays in the series, and what tone the show will strike with regards to it. After all, there is something deeply cathartic about watching a piece of media that meets the moment. It reminds me of how hard The Handmaid’s Tale hit when it premiered alongside Trump’s inauguration.

Utopia premieres on Amazon on September 25.

(via Collider, image: screencap/Amazon Studios)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, 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.

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