Altered Carbon: Out of the Past
February 4, 2018 8:06 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Waking up in a new body 250 years after his death, Takeshi Kovacs discovers he's been resurrected to help a titan of industry solve his own murder.
posted by Fizz (72 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I read Altered Carbon about 8 or 9 years ago. I loved the universe that Takashi Kovacs occupies, so watching this universe come to life is kind of a big deal for me.

That being said, there's SOOO much happening in this series, the way it is filmed/adapted, it's not without its problems but I'm very interested in exploring it more thoroughly.

There's a kind of digital/cyber yellow-face that is happening by having Joel Kinnaman play an Asian/European man whose identity or "stack" has been "resleeved" into a new white body.

The funny thing is that the book also explores these ideas. And while I feel the book is making a commentary on the slippery nature of identity and self in this future world, it's still complicated to have a white actor play this part.

I do love Joel Kinnaman, he's a brilliant actor. Hmm, lots to chew on.
posted by Fizz at 8:08 AM on February 4, 2018 [8 favorites]


I never read the book(s?) but so far this is a great looking show. I've already blown through the first five episodes! Sad to see there is only ten episodes this season, I could watch a ton of this.
posted by some loser at 9:16 AM on February 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


I would be more annoyed about the white sleeve but his birth sleeve gets significant screen time in flashbacks and is played by an Asian actor, Will Yun Lee.
posted by xyzzy at 9:18 AM on February 4, 2018 [10 favorites]


I loved the books unabashedly. Richard K. Morgan's ideas about the nature of identity... hm. We're not 100% on the same page, but I find what he has to say fascinating.

There's a kind of digital/cyber yellow-face that is happening by having Joel Kinnaman play an Asian/European man whose identity or "stack" has been "resleeved" into a new white body.

The funny thing is that the book also explores these ideas. And while I feel the book is making a commentary on the slippery nature of identity and self in this future world, it's still complicated to have a white actor play this part.


A lot of stuff in the book and the show is potentially problematic, but personally, I think this was the only way it could go. Swapping race in various instances is important to what he's getting at, and since Kovacs is the protagonist, the two choices are:

1) POC inhabits white man and kicks ass.
2) White man inhabits POC and kicks ass.

I prefer the option he took, especially because of the time the show takes to emphasize his birth identity, (as xyzzy points out), and some further events that will occur later.

(There's tons here that would fall flat out of a less thoughtful author.)
posted by mordax at 9:20 AM on February 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


I loved this series - it took some of the ideas hinted at in Battlestar Galactica and fleshed out the implications of digitized consciousness. The story kept me involved like few do, and I found all of the acting (and action) to be compelling. The production design was convincing and I like the expressive use of processed a video a whole lot. This is definitely a top series in my view, one of the very best sci-fi series ever.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


I watched several episodes last night. Without being spoilery, I do think that it's interesting how they address resleeving and race. There is a character performed across multiple actors and there is an actor who plays multiple characters inhabiting the same sleeve all of whom keep the accent of the original character portrayed.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:15 AM on February 4, 2018 [6 favorites]


If the answer to this is too spoilery I'd love to know via memail - is this set in a misogynistic world at all? I guess in terms of how women are portrayed or treated in the background? I was super turned off the future-scifi-brothels sequences in the second half of this episode, so if there's going to be more of that I'll probably skip the rest of the show. But I'm intrigued enough in the ideas here to not write it off entirely just yet.
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:16 AM on February 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


I binged the entire series and... yes, it's quite a misogynistic world. The show attempts to address it with what I found to be mixed results.
posted by dazed_one at 11:27 AM on February 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


Re: misogyny -
Memailing, but the short version is that dazed_one's take strikes me as pretty fair.
posted by mordax at 11:41 AM on February 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


The show attempts to address it with what I found to be mixed results.
A friend of mine put it quite succinctly: "Why do dead women have to be sexually alluring? I'm sick of that."
posted by xyzzy at 11:44 AM on February 4, 2018 [14 favorites]


I really, really enjoyed this series. It's so rare to experience hard-ish SF in any medium outside of books, and (bonus) it actually made me think.

I imagine that the show's premise is an actor's dream: the demand to swap roles while inhabiting the same skin (and sometimes in the same scene) must have been an extraordinary challenge.

The plot did have some mis-steps, but that's almost inevitable across 10 hours, and I don't feel they spoiled anything.
> is this set in a misogynistic world at all?
Personally, I don't feel so, but it is deeply dystopian. Female and male nudity is present, but I don't get the impression it's done to titillate in either case. There's a great deal of violence, but a good number of strong female characters. For what it's worth, the showrunner is female, but (sadly) only one of the directors.

I think it might be compared to Blade Runner 2077, which was also deeply divisive here. There's an audience that expects that a world with extremely advanced technology would also have advanced socially. I think that kind of world is valuable to see, but I also think that a world that carries some of the same social constructs that we have now, placed in a new setting, can be insightful, and isn't necessarily misogynistic when it does so. Altered Carbon isn't without it's problems; if you found BR2077 objectionable, I think it's likely that you'll have the same reaction to this show.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:52 AM on February 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


I guess to put this out here in addition to what I sent erratic_meatsack:

The story is about a rainbow of exploitation. Personally, I'd compare its use of this stuff to Westworld. Having read a fair bit of Morgan, I believe the intention is to try and shock people out of some of our ideas about who's disposable.

However, that kind of message about exploitation can easily veer into being exploitative itself. How a viewer feels about that is going to vary. I found a lot of the spectacle here to be a pointed commentary about the audience ourselves: 'does this appeal to you? Then maybe you're a monster, and here's why.'

YMMV though. and I believe the story is intended to encourage us to discuss these issues.
posted by mordax at 11:54 AM on February 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


My issues with the show's presentation of a misogynistic world aren't with the narrative - as Bora said, there are plenty of strong female characters and key parts of the narrative revolve around misogyny as a problem. Rather, I think the manner in which the series is filmed reflects a male eye. There is both male and female nudity, but female nudity is far more prevalent and even in love scenes, where one would think the idea is not to show women in a differently sexualized manner as opposed to the men, the camera's gaze is definitely male.

However, it must be said that it did not ruin the show for me. The manner in which the themes of objectification and violence against women were treated by the narrative, to me at least, outweighed the occasional lingering shot of boobs or butts. All in all, it wasn't perfect, but it was better than many other attempts to take on the subject.

"Why do dead women have to be sexually alluring? I'm sick of that."

In terms of the sexual treatment of dead women, without giving too many spoilers away, I don't have a problem with the way the show handled that because I think the plot turns that treatment into an effective, grim mirror for the audience.
posted by dazed_one at 12:09 PM on February 4, 2018 [6 favorites]


as Bora said

It really doesn't matter but the character Bora Horza Gobuchul used Horza as a personal name.

posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:10 PM on February 4, 2018 [11 favorites]


Thank you everyone for the answers! Super helpful to know what to expect with this kind of material.
posted by erratic meatsack at 1:19 PM on February 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


I should have remembered, seeing how much I like Banks' writing.
posted by dazed_one at 1:25 PM on February 4, 2018


In terms of the sexual treatment of dead women, without giving too many spoilers away, I don't have a problem with the way the show handled that because I think the plot turns that treatment into an effective, grim mirror for the audience.
I actually agree, but it happens so far down the road that people turned off by the sexualization of dead women will have abandoned the show long before the payoff.
posted by xyzzy at 2:06 PM on February 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


but it happens so far down the road that people turned off by the sexualization of dead women will have abandoned the show long before the payoff.

This is true. But they're also not the people who need to have that mirror held up to their faces.
posted by dazed_one at 2:10 PM on February 4, 2018


This is true. But they're also not the people who need to have that mirror held up to their faces.

This is also true, but it's still sad to miss them in the conversation we're having. My SO was very put off by something yet to happen and put the books down when they were the new hotness, and... I get it. I don't want people to slog through stuff that upsets them. I didn't give her a hard time. Well, I did, but only within the boundaries of playful spousal teasing.

At the same time, I really wanted her as a participant in exploring all the ideas present. Like, I'm particularly glad to have women and fellow POC in this thread, because I've only really talked about the novels with white men in the past, and while that was a lot of fun too, I feel more perspectives will be even better.
posted by mordax at 2:53 PM on February 4, 2018


I'm only this one episode in (so please bingers, could you work hard not to spoil? my 5 month old master allows little quick viewing. kthxbi) and so far find it to be a lot truer to the source novel (as far as I remember it, going on a decade now) than I would have expected. Given the nature of Quillquest Falconer, particularly as she and her message are deeply explored in book 3, I'm almost shocked to find they didn't just excise her completely. Be interesting to see how much, if any, she's defanged.

Loved the AI hotel.
posted by phearlez at 2:55 PM on February 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


but it's still sad to miss them in the conversation we're having.

Absolutely agree. As someone who's half Asian, when I started the show, I was concerned to see the half Asian protagonist get put in a white person's body. I thought it might be problematic, but they handled it fairly well and I'm glad I stuck it out.
posted by dazed_one at 3:07 PM on February 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


5 episodes in.
i haven't read the books and this series does not encourage me to do so. there are some interesting ideas here, primarily about sentience/consciousness and identity. but the ode to patriarchy is just, so, overweening. it really does come across as so white and SO male. and hetero. and CIS - which is really unimaginative!

"resleeving" opens up a tremendous realm of interesting options in that regard, and i don't see it going anywhere with that, so far. i mean, other than Abuelita peeing with a dick for the first time, which is really pretty small potatoes in terms of exploring gender.

and yeah - the misogyny. though the sexualized dead female bodies are not the main problem. the misogyny is endemic; it is simply part of the patriarchy. the "strong women" read as tokens - tough babes who are really there to "love" the male protagonist, riding him like a merry-go-round. or, a murdered sex worker. or the femme fatale. or, to be the sassy Mexican mama, always in the kitchen. ALWAYS. IN. THE. KITCHEN.

sure, it is "holding up a mirror to the viewer's presumptions" - but it really assumes that viewer is a white man. it's regressive in a strange way: less a dystopian view of the future than a pastiche of past sci-fi work. sure, it's dreary, but there's plenty of food (fresh veggies! chop, chop, chop goes the little Mexican mama in the kitchen!) but that's the only thing fresh in the show. the mindset of this series seems like it was written 30 years before it actually was, as though it were stuck in the 80s, and unable to envision a race (human) that has lived at least another 250 years into the future. i mean, other than gadgets and gimmicks like AI hotels and eye-computers or whatnot. it is also a shameless pastiche of so many other, better works. and, unfortunately, some inferior ones, too. there are so many truly interesting, transgressive ideas that are left unexplored, in preference for extended action and torture scenes. total bro-dude shit. it's tiresome.

the 30+year-old, original Bladerunner still seems fresh to me; this does not. (and consider that, with Bladerunner, the source material was even older; yet it managed to transcend - or break - many of the prejudices of its time, while still holding up that mirror.)

also - though i do like Kinneman - i don't love the Robocop-ification of his physique. perhaps that is what the book character was supposed to look like, but it doesn't serve him all that well in this role. i'm not a fan of BR2049 but i do think that Ryan Gosling really found a beautiful balance between being a formidable physical presence and a quietly observant intellect. a Robert Mitchum type, if one wants a comparable Noir example. Kinneman is better lanky and laconic; here, he's just a slab. it's like watching Bladerunner with Dolph Lundgren in the lead.

that said, i'll watch it all. while it is not particularly good, it is not terrible. it's something to fill the time until The Expanse returns.
posted by lapolla at 4:03 PM on February 4, 2018 [13 favorites]


If the answer to this is too spoilery I'd love to know via memail - is this set in a misogynistic world at all? I guess in terms of how women are portrayed or treated in the background? I was super turned off the future-scifi-brothels sequences in the second half of this episode, so if there's going to be more of that I'll probably skip the rest of the show. But I'm intrigued enough in the ideas here to not write it off entirely just yet.

hell fuckin yeah it is. it's nauseatingly brutal to everybody, but certainly the first book has a bit of a slant towards bad things happening to women, in line with the futuristic hypernoir furrow it's ploughing.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:25 PM on February 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


oh and apparently, they've solved climate change because not only are there fresh vegetables available to the masses, there is PLENTY of tobacco. a trivial aside, i know. i know - it's a take on Noir. but it's one of those annoying retro flourishes that take me right out of the suspension of disbelief.
posted by lapolla at 5:14 PM on February 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


I find it helpful not to imagine these imagined worlds as actually being our future, but just some alternate world. Like, Blade Runner takes place next year and even 2049 is implausibly soon for that film (though maybe weirdly late for how little has changed). Science fiction is never actually about the future, anyways.

I found this kind of mumblecore-y, had to rewind and put on subtitles three or four times to catch what was said, but I enjoyed it overall.
posted by rodlymight at 6:42 PM on February 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


They didn't have to cast a white actor, they could've just Quantum Leaped him and stuck the white actor into the mirror.
posted by yonega at 7:00 PM on February 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm only 2 episodes in! While I'm really liking it I'm getting the sense that they've replaced the very strong anticapitalist and almost anarchic themes of the book with a more palatable antioligarchical slant. I hope not! I'm sure I'll still enjoy it but come on, we could use a little rage filled anarchic anticapitalism right about now.
posted by Justinian at 7:50 PM on February 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


“The personal, as everyone’s so fucking fond of saying, is political. So if some idiot politician, some power player, tries to execute policies that harm you or those you care about, take it personally. Get angry. The Machinery of Justice will not serve you here – it is slow and cold, and it is theirs, hardware and soft-. Only the little people suffer at the hands of Justice; the creatures of power slide from under it with a wink and a grin. If you want justice you will have to claw it from them. Make it personal. Do as much damage as you can. Get your message across. That way you stand a better chance of being taken seriously next time. Of being considered dangerous. And make no mistake about this: being taken seriously, being considered dangerous marks the difference - the only difference in their eyes - between players and little people. Players they will make deals with. Little people they liquidate. And time and again they cream your liquidation, your displacement, your torture and brutal execution with the ultimate insult that it’s just business, it’s politics, it’s the way of the world, it’s a tough life and that it’s nothing personal. Well, fuck them. Make it personal.”
Probably my favorite quote from AC. Which is sadly extremely relevant these days, even more than when it was written.
posted by Justinian at 7:53 PM on February 4, 2018 [20 favorites]


Fizz, can you ask a mod to add the 'books included' condition to this post, since that's the way the discussion has gone?

This first episode didn't really grab me in that way that makes me feel compelled to do a binge-post-athon. I mean, I will probably finish watching the season, but, not in any hurry, despite not having read the book.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:33 AM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


On a lighter note, it was nice seeing Max Headroom aka Matt Frewer again.
posted by KaizenSoze at 5:11 AM on February 5, 2018 [10 favorites]


I never saw Robocop so it is super duper weird seeing Joel Kinnaman all beefed up like that. I do not like.

I also was not a fan of the strip club sexposition. I really think that strip clubs should be banned as a setting for drama unless the main character is literally a sex worker. It's been old and tired since like season one of the Sopranos. Stahp. Confused about the continued existence of AI hotels. If no one goes there, why are they still there? Does no one own that land? The buildings? Squatters? Anyone? Seems like a waste of a perfectly good Skid Row.

Otherwise, I thought the far future setting was interesting (I guess I've gotten so used to "this could all start happening like, tomorrow!!!" dystopias).
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:29 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


soren_lorensen, I believe a detail from the book was that the AI Hotel was a legal entity and owned itself.

I've just watched the first episode so far, and agree with the general points. A remarkably straight-forward adaptation, but it didn't really grab me. That was true of the book series in general though, I thought the second book was the strongest of the three. This first story suffered a bit from being so thoroughly contrained by its noir underpinnings.
posted by Eddie Mars at 7:44 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


I thought the second book was the strongest of the three.

I agree with this. Half of my excitement about S1 dropping was 'please let them continue to Book 2.'
posted by mordax at 9:59 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


hell fuckin yeah it is. it's nauseatingly brutal to everybody, but certainly the first book has a bit of a slant towards bad things happening to women, in line with the futuristic hypernoir furrow it's ploughing.

[Spoilers for something that now won't happen]

turns out the 'kovacs gets virtually tortured as a woman' scene was changed, for some sensible reasons.

I thought the 'sexposition' scene was fine (not least because it was a woman talking to someone she plausibly thought was a woman and the code-switching was fascinating) but there's no way the torture would have worked on screen as anything but exploitation.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:23 AM on February 5, 2018


I'm show-only, and (true to this thread) only watched the one episode. I'm on board with the show though, just because it's clearly smart and richly imagined. There's far too much Blade Runner production on display but I can go with that.

The hints of a much grander universe are intriguing. Humanity is spread across many planets. Kovacs has been disembodied for 250 years?! That's a hell of a long time, how is he even remotely relevant and not just curled up in a ball gibbering with Futureshock? San Francisco is still a mix of glittering rich people and folks living in the streets in abject poverty. At least it rains now in California.

I loved the conceit of the AI hotel. Curious if he'll be a recurring character.
posted by Nelson at 11:59 AM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


> how is he even remotely relevant and not just curled up in a ball gibbering with Futureshock?
I can't recall if that is directly addressed in the books, but my assumption is that the long extended lives of people in the AC universe, and the temporal nature of most of those lives - going on ice, being decanted perhaps years or even decades later - has created a system-wide cultural stasis: things change, but quite slowly. Kovac's Envoy training probably has a great deal to do with it too.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 12:24 PM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


yes - the Envoy training had a lot to do with being able to assume a new body and a new role/persona quickly and capably in order to accomplish a goal - presumably that would apply to temporal as well as spatial shifts
posted by kokaku at 1:26 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


I dunno, the future as portrayed on screen isn't one a lot of people born after, say, 1970(?) probably couldn't adapt to fairly rapidly. My reaction to the cortical stacks, for example, would be COOL SIGN ME UP RIGHT NOW. And sadly the misogyny, massive divide between rich and poor, and so on isn't exactly something that would seem new and unfamiliar. Whether the amount of cultural shift portrayed over time is realistic is another question. But, really, would anybody in this thread find themselves non-functional if dropped into the time period portrayed? It might take longer to absorb the facts of life since we aren't envoys but it's not like we'd curl up in little balls.

At least for people of my generation I think futureshock is an overstated danger. We've already seen massive cultural, social, and technological shifts and we're gettin' by okay.
posted by Justinian at 2:53 PM on February 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


Binged all 10 episodes over the weekend, so clearly I found it to be a compelling story. I thought the violence and nudity was too much in several circumstances, but thought it had some interesting themes, particularly around identity. Definitely some questions I have for future episode postings.

Poe/The Raven reminded me of Ted Chiang's essay on how our ideas of what a super-intelligent AI might turn out to be could be a little off (discussed previously on the blue)

In the scene where Kovacs is released from prison, there's a family who's daughter is returned to them in a grown woman's body. So when criminals go to prison, do they separate the stack from the sleeve, and then rent out sleeves for profit? What happens when the sentence is over, do the ex-cons just get re-sleeved into some other sleeve if theirs has been leased out?
posted by noneuclidean at 5:00 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


The one thing that really bothers me is that they took Quell and made her kind of...fortune cookie-y? Like, in the book she's essentially a cross between Emma Goldman and Sun Tzu, but they've made her about a thousand times less practical and tough.
posted by corb at 5:12 PM on February 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


So when criminals go to prison, do they separate the stack from the sleeve, and then rent out sleeves for profit?

Yes, Kovacs actually comments about that.

What happens when the sentence is over, do the ex-cons just get re-sleeved into some other sleeve if theirs has been leased out?

I got the impression they would get whatever is available.
posted by jkaczor at 5:32 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Binged 8 out of 10 over the weekend - while not an exact adaptation of the book - it kept the spirit alive, and I am really enjoying it. (Except for all the cringeworthy male-gaze nudity - makes watching it difficult)
posted by jkaczor at 5:33 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Just watched the first one so far but I'm not really impressed by the world building. It's been 35 years since Blade Runner and this is the best that they can come up with?
posted by octothorpe at 5:41 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


but I'm not really impressed by the world building. It's been 35 years since Blade Runner and this is the best that they can come up with?

Well - it's not what my mental images were - but - apparently Richard K. Morgan feels that they have been rooting around in his brain, so...
posted by jkaczor at 5:46 PM on February 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


I got the impression they would get whatever is available.

Seems to me they'd have a supply/demand problem, but I'll assume they've figured that out somehow. Makes me wonder what criminal sentencing looks like in this world. Is a life sentence effectively the same as death penalty? I mean, if there is no chance of being spun back up again, is it really any different then real death? And Kovacs didn't seem to have any sense of how long he had been out for, so is any penalty of a fixed length really like going to sleep one night and waking up many years in the future in what feels like the blink of an eye? At that point, is your punishment really just the loss of your sleeve and the world you once knew (if your sentence was sufficiently long enough)?
posted by noneuclidean at 6:04 PM on February 5, 2018


I think it looks great. It has the production values of The Expanse (well done spacey sci-fi) and Westworld (violence, full frontal nudity and flashback scenes.) But it feels more like Killjoys or Dark Matter to me (not that there is anything wrong with that!) Or Helix. This is pulp, but it looks great. But also a lot of not at all plot driven full frontal female nudity. This is not the show that I would recommend to a sci-fi hater as an intro to the genre. On the other hand, frak those people.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:31 PM on February 5, 2018


I just binged it and it was enjoyable enough to keep me interested, but not nearly as good as it was aiming for. Personally, the in-universe misogyny might have been excusable if the show wasn't so intensely the male-gaze. It's been a long time since I read the books, but the show just screamed 1998 to me -- like it would have been the most awesome SF show ever if it had appeared then. Now, its world- building seems dated and it's just so male-gazey.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:20 AM on February 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


I thought the 'sexposition' scene was fine (not least because it was a woman talking to someone she plausibly thought was a woman and the code-switching was fascinating)

That wasn't actually the sexposition thing I was referring to. I was talking about the one in the first episode (at the strip club with Det. Ortega) and you're referring to the one in the second episode (which I just watched last night). That such a mix-up is possible after two episodes I think indicates TOO MUCH SEXPOSITION. There's just... I think I'm just over het sex in media, generally speaking. Like yeah we also got to see James Purefoy's no-doubt prosthetic schlong, and we get to see plenty of Joel Kinnaman's definitely real ass too, but all it serves to do is take me out of the story. Watching last night (again, episode 2 since this thread seems to be turning into an all-episodes all-books thread) I actually thought to myself, "I'm glad this isn't actually that great of a show because I'd be embarrassed to have to recommend it to people casually with this degree of gratuitous tits n peen."
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:45 AM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


I really like how they show original-original Kovacs (Will Yun Lee) and a re-sleeved Kovacs (Byron Mann). But Kovacs is an Envoy - why did he wig out when he was re-sleeved into Kinnaman (above and beyond regaining consciousness after a violent death)?

Not a fan of Joel Kinnaman (and his interview on The Late Show was abysmal) in this role. From the books, in my mind's eye, this particular sleeve was kinda-obviously-not-good-looking and pretty banged up.

The little girl being re-sleeved into an old woman was pretty ham fisted, but gets the point across, I guess.

Now... what did the little girl do to get sentenced to Storage? For how long? Why aren't her parents super old now? Sure, released criminals get whatever's available (if they can't afford to buy a premium sleeve, or grow a clone) but that was kind of absurd. There's a bit (and more than a bit) in the book that does this a lot better (ie., mom gets sentenced, sleeve goes into storage, some rich person buys the sleeve and wears it every other weekend, family see's mom's sleeve on TV being used by someone else, gets angry). The plot should/will explore this further on the show.
posted by porpoise at 10:23 AM on February 6, 2018


porpoise, it's said by her parents that it was a wrongful death? accident? victim's recompense? (I forget, sorry) type of thing--the state promised her a new body as "payment" for the wrong she suffered, but didn't specify what kind.

More generally, I think (not to put words in others' mouths, please correct me if I'm wrong) that the lots-of-scenes-set-in-strip-clubs is what people are saying when they want to separate the misogyny of the world and the dead-women-everywhere plot from the male gaze-y way the show was made.

I'm really glad they changed the scene that Sebmojo is referring to.
posted by quaking fajita at 10:29 AM on February 6, 2018


The show would be better, IMHO, without the Skinemax-style gratuitous nudity and excessive F-bombing. In that respect it reminds me strongly of Blade Runner 2049 and Westworld. There's a line between representing a misogynist world for plot purposes and making it seem edgy and cool to which this show (and the others) wobble perilously close.

I'm going to watch all of the epsiodes because I'm hoping for a payoff, but those are pretty rare.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:43 AM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Richard (K) Morgan is my favorite author who isn't Iain (M) Banks. So I awaited this series with both hope and trepidation.

And I love it so far. Just love it. I am very pleasantly surprised by Joel Kinnaman (since he wasn't at all what I've imagined Takeshi Kovacs to be like. At all), he's a much better actor than I expected him to be, he's got exactly the right tone. The rest of the casting is also really good and the acting is top notch pretty much across the board. I love the production design and pacing (I LOVE how Blade Runnery it is, but then that's no surprise since that's my favorite movie of all time. If the real future doesn't look like that I confess I will be somewhat disappointed).

This discussion here has brought up some thoughts for me. I do think entrenched and overt/subtle misogyny in media is something worth thinking about and discussing. But I also think it's possible to see misogyny when offering the benefit of the doubt that there's a non-misogynist purpose to things might be a better choice.

Without being spoilery, this series treats BOTH men and women's bodies as objects. There is a lot of nudity of BOTH sexes. And the "sexually alluring dead woman" is that way on purpose (and the purpose is not misogyny).

I have been pleasantly surprised by how the changes from the book have really worked well for me. I've read this book many, many times, and I was worried I'd be annoyed by the changes, but they work.

I'm halfway through because I'm enjoying it so much I am too aware that I can only watch it for the first time once, so I'm pacing myself.
posted by biscotti at 1:37 PM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


And the "sexually alluring dead woman" is that way on purpose (and the purpose is not misogyny).

Well, yes, but I would compare it to the scene in Westworld's (first?) episode where Dolores is dragged off into the barn by the Man in Block in a misogynstic set piece that (we think) we've seen a hundred times before. You put that trope in and you must expect that reaction even if you are doing it (particularly in Westworld's case) because that's exactly what you're exploring and pushing back against.

There's also a bit of the Truffaut no-such-thing-as-an-anti-war-movie aspect. On balance I tend to disagree with the statement but there's some truth to it. And there's probably more truth to it when it comes to stuff like the sexually alluring dead woman trope. You may be reacting to it in your film but you're still got the visual on the screen.
posted by Justinian at 2:27 PM on February 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to picture what the Man in Block looks like. I assume you guys knew the word was Black.
posted by Justinian at 4:04 PM on February 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Johnny Cash Lego movie.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:39 PM on February 6, 2018 [13 favorites]


I'm trying to picture what the Man in Block looks like.

Steve from Minecraft.

There's also a bit of the Truffaut no-such-thing-as-an-anti-war-movie aspect. On balance I tend to disagree with the statement but there's some truth to it.

This is why I have some mixed feelings about this. I love Morgan and appreciate what he has to say, but... the image is still on the screen, and some people stand to be harmed by it, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that. And I mean that literally: I'm sometimes just as flummoxed by Westworld, like we're all comparing this to. I think these are stories that should be told, but some parts are difficult and I don't know if they can have the same impact if they're sanitized, but Truffaut isn't entirely wrong, but...

*shrugs*

Sometimes I think to myself, 'this must be how an android feels when Captain Kirk is talking it to death.' All I can think to do is listen to opposing viewpoints that offer me something to work with (lapolla, for instance), and just... dunno, sit with it so I'm at least aware of how other people are seeing the same spectacle, and keep on top of if there's anything I need to reevaluate in either the work or myself. (So far, reading this thread, I have to admit that the stuff about Ortega's mother in the kitchen is a good point.)
posted by mordax at 4:41 PM on February 6, 2018


Whether or not Truffaut was right, it's surely true that there are better, more effective ways of depicting war in an anti-war film, and worse, less effective ways that work against the ostensible anti-war theme. Like Justinian, I think this is even more true with misogyny.

My views on this have evolved. One big problem is that filmmaking is a craft -- a collective work of craftspeople, auteur theory aside -- and there are deeply embedded ways of writing about, presenting, and filming sex and violence. It seems almost impossible for filmmakers, especially, (as opposed to writers) to avoid deeply blurring the use/mention distinction and just end up recapitulating the very messages they are attempting to criticize and subvert. We see this on all these "edgy" shows.

And, let's face it -- the previous paragraph is very generous. It argues that it's really hard, as a matter of craft and technique, for the various professionals to avoid this. But, honestly, we know that many of the people involved, certainly the producers and networks and those who are doing this as an attempt to make money, want to have their cake and eat it, too. They have every incentive to aggressively titillate and then, if criticized for it, argue that thematically it's intended to be a subversion. But we have good reasons to be skeptical about this claim almost every time it is made, especially when we're talking about a large commercial enterprise employing many people.

I think it's possible to do a much better job at dealing with this kind of material in a way that genuinely subverts it. Much, much better than this show manages, but, I guess, also basically almost every film and television show.

I fault the show for, in my opinion, falling so very short of the mark about this. I think Westworld does a (slightly) better job, Game of Thrones is worse.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:45 PM on February 6, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm only 2 episodes in, but it looks like we might have to split these discussions up? I skimmed through most of the topic when I started noticing spoilers further in the series.

I've never heard of the books and only noticed this series from Netflix's marketing. I'm also of the opinion that regardless of the source material, the showrunners can still make an adaptation with better presentation. I understand the intrigue in switching races with each sleeve, but why does the current one have to be white? And the Byron Mann, the asian actor in the beginning of episode 1, was actually what hooked me on first watch. Seeing yet another white protagonist falling out of that bag was disappointing.

And the male gaze was really prevalent. One or two dicks with a shadow over them don't compare to the dozens of breasts I saw. I understand the kind of dystopianly misogynist world they wanted to portray, but it was a little much.

Regardless though, I'm probably going to keep watching because I do like sci-fi crime drama and the story so far is pretty interesting. I read comments above about them dealing with the topic of identity and sexy dead women, so that's at least intriguing enough for me to keep going.
posted by numaner at 10:45 PM on February 6, 2018


think it's possible to do a much better job at dealing with this kind of material in a way that genuinely subverts it. Much, much better than this show manages, but, I guess, also basically almost every film and television show. I fault the show for, in my opinion, falling so very short of the mark about this. I think Westworld does a (slightly) better job, Game of Thrones is worse.

I pretty much agree with this. Well okay, I think Westworld does more than a slightly better job particularly after reading interviews with Wood and Newton where they speak on this topic quite a bit, but in GoT's case I'm not sure they're even trying. Martin might have been (quite imperfectly) but the TV adaption? Yeah not really. And that's from someone all in on GoT. (ie me).

I wonder how much of the Expanse almost completely avoiding this problem is a deliberate decision, how much is the source material, and how much is the content restriction necessary to be shown on basic cable? Probably a combination of all three but I give them a lot of credit in any case. Boy there's a lot of high production value SF going on right now. I'm sure there's a ton of fantasy stuff working through the pipeline with GoT ending too.

I'm having trouble being much more specific with any of the above since this is technically only about episode 1. Personally, I think 10 episode Netflix series lend themselves to FULL SEASON discussions rather than episode-by-episode but that's probably a discussion for Fanfare Talk.
posted by Justinian at 11:57 PM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]


Showrunner Laeta Kalogridis on whitewashing (an excerpt - article contains some spoilery things):
"I personally feel that the whitewashing problem is huge," she says. "I did not want to be in any way contributing to it. I did work on Ghost in the Shell at one point [another recent property widely criticized for having Scarlett Johansson play an Asian character], before it changed directors and way before any cast decisions were made. Ghost in the Shell for me was a frustrating example of taking an iconic character, Major Motoko Kusanagi who is in Tokyo and is Japanese — I've never seen her as anything other than Japanese — and [making her white]."
Showrunner Laeta Kalogridis on female voices in Sci-Fi (an excerpt - article contains more spoilery things):
"It's very important to me to represent women, but the only way we can move forward is if we talk about it," Kalogridis says. "People have asked me about the violence towards women in the show and that's because the world is violent towards women. That is why I'm talking about it on the show because I hope that it will change, and the only way to change is to talk about it. I started writing this before the reckoning, before Harvey [Weinstein], before the Nassar situation and the widespread realization that women should be believed about the things that happen to them."
posted by el io at 1:21 AM on February 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm only 2 episodes in, but it looks like we might have to split these discussions up?

IF ONLY THERE WERE A WAY FOR EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON METAFILTER TO JUST CREATE A NEW ENTRY FOR A SUBSEQUENT EPISODE RATHER THAN FILLING UP EP1 WITH DISCUSSIONS AND SPOILERS FOR THOSE OF US WHO CAN'T BINGE ENTIRE SEASONS BEFORE COMING TO FANFARE.

Oh wait, there is.
posted by phearlez at 9:10 AM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


@phearlez i wish i could flag your comment 'hysterical' for the smile it brought to my face - thank you, i needed that today
posted by kokaku at 10:21 AM on February 7, 2018


IF ONLY THERE WERE A WAY FOR EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON METAFILTER TO JUST CREATE A NEW ENTRY FOR A SUBSEQUENT EPISODE

I HAD NO IDEA! I THOUGHT THAT'S WHAT WE ALL WERE DOING! I GUESS I'M JUST A LEMMING!

since you're so amazing i'll let you make the episode 2 post when you get there. toodleooo!
posted by numaner at 10:39 AM on February 7, 2018


Okay, phearlez, done. Let's take the heavier discussion elsewhere, if we could?
posted by mordax at 10:41 AM on February 7, 2018


I also posted to Fanfare Talk, but mordax beat me to a solution by posting a whole season post.
posted by Nelson at 10:45 AM on February 7, 2018


I'm totally out of the sci-fi literature loop, and had no idea this is based on books. I love the world of the show but was on the fence with the writing. But if they have good literary source material already driving the story then I'm in!

What I didn't like is that I never felt like the story was unfolding smoothly; it waffles back and forth between really confusing, then trying to make up for it with overly explanatory dialog scenes. I feel like there is a smoother middle ground that would work better, but maybe also a side effect of so much ground to cover in the first episode.

One thing that I misread, and liked my misinterpretation better than the actual story: when he goes out and gets wasted, then wanders down the alley with all the spam ad holograms, I first wondered if they were part of his drug hallucinations. Like, what if in the future when a "drug" high can be programmed almost like AR, then sketchy drugs would not be cut with crushed up placebo, they'd be filled with ads or other propaganda/messaging woven into the hallucinations. Maybe a little too Terry Gilliam for this world, but I liked that idea better than the actual straightforward ads they ended up being.
posted by p3t3 at 6:29 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed the book quite a bit (I've only read the first one. I didn't know it was a series), so we borrowed our daughter's Netflix login and have been working through the show, a few episodes each night. I think we're 7 episodes in. The story seems to be a bit muddled, but still comprehensible. I've enjoyed the appearances of some familiar faces like Tamara Taylor, Matt Frewer, and Dichen Lachman.

Like noneuclidian, I'm finding the violence and sex over-the-top, especially the violence. It's been awhile since I read the book, but I don't recall this much mayhem and egregious bloodshed in the story. It seems like almost every plotpoint is used to set-up some level of violence.

I'll definitely see it out to the end. Since its actually a set of books, does anyone know if Netflix intends to expand this into a series?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:12 AM on February 11, 2018


At about 3/4 of the way through episode 1 I turned to my husband and said "I challenge this to make it to the end without another pair of boobs". But the boob counter kept dinging and thus we both decided that life was too short to watch any more. Shame, hubby was hoping for a good treatment of books that he enjoyed.
posted by Ness at 7:31 AM on February 14, 2018


Will anyone join me for episode 2?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:42 PM on February 15, 2018


Where? It doesn’t seem to be natively connecting.
posted by corb at 7:10 PM on February 15, 2018


I mean, if I post ep 2 will people comment?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:27 PM on February 15, 2018


People never commenting hasn't stopped me before, so on with ep2!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:24 AM on February 16, 2018


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