As long as you try not to think about the questionable wide-arc plot in this show, Upload is a funny, romantic, but also sobering look at the potential technological advances of the next 10-20 years.
What’s it about?
Nathan Brown is badly hurt in a car accident at the prime age of 27. As his vitals are dropping, his wealthy girlfriend hastily arranges his ascension to heaven – digital heaven, that is, in the form of a consciousness transfer to Lake View, a premium virtual afterlife in which her family has ‘unlimited data’. It takes Nathan a while to get used to his new living situation, and he’s having some trouble recalling what he was working on in the weeks leading up to the accident. With the help of his ‘Angel’ (customer service representative Nora Antony) he begins to settle in and see what digital living has to offer.
In the living world, Nora starts to develop feelings for Nathan and, suspicious of the corruption of his memory files, helps to uncover the truth behind Nathan’s death.
What do I like about it?
The little details that are scattered in the show are really quite fun, and serve as an unexpected treat whenever they crop up. When certain things in Lake View cost money to use, a literal button for ‘in app purchases’ appears. When the servers temporarily lose power and kick into backup mode, the uploads (what they call dead people in the virtual afterlife) turn to blocky, Minecraft-like characters, which seems obvious but caught me so off guard that I laughed out loud.
The underlying romance that develops between Nathan and Nora is also cute, and the show makes good use of the setting to demonstrate this. Nora invites Nathan to walk on water, ‘I just activated the feature’, she says, before he eagerly steps forward and plunges straight in. She was teasing him. There’s also a particularly poignant moment where Nathan’s memories of his time at Lake View – including his time spent with Nora – are at risk of being erased. I genuinely felt sad for them in that moment, so you know the show is doing something right.
What do I not like about it?
The plot – the part of it where Nathan tries to find out why he died – is a little sketchy. I think the writers held back too much, letting slip so little in this season that this part of the story felt meaningless overall. I know where they’re going with it though, it’s the sort of onion-style plot we’ve seen in shows like Orphan Black. What I mean by this is, in Season 1 there’s a bad guy, but in the season finale he’s revealed to be small fry in a bigger operation. This will probably repeat until the show gets cancelled and, in the final season, the last super-super-super-evil person is revealed to have been the actual mastermind all along.
Worth a watch?
Sure. It’s funny and it’s a cool (if slightly dystopian) insight into what life could be like fairly soon.
By the way…
- We’re getting a second season, thank goodness.
- The show sat in development limbo for about 2 years after it was ordered until filming finally began in Vancouver in May 2019