Love, Death & Robots: Netflix anthology of animated shorts (NSFW)
March 16, 2019 3:15 PM - Subscribe

Netflix drops a collection of mixed-style, animated, cross-genre (fantasy, science-fiction, horror, etc.) short films - NSFW.

- Wikipedia
- IMDB
- Metacritic

Individual films differ in length, none are longer than ~17 minutes.

Well - I will be doing a re-watch - this was even better than I had hoped.
posted by jkaczor (61 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh - forgot to add the actual Netflix link ;-)
posted by jkaczor at 3:18 PM on March 16


Need it be said that 3 of the 18 short films ("Three Robots", "When The Yogurt Took Over"and "Alternate Histories") are based on stories by MeFi's Own John Scalzi?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:44 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


The image of the satellite shattering upon impact with [spoiler] was surprisingly unsettling for all that the look and tone of the short it was in.

I did like Xbot 4000 meeting Xbox Three.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:25 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Is there a guide to the various levels of sexual violence in each episode? Cause we just watched the first one and I am really not down for any more eps that demonstrate that level of rapiness. Please and thank you.
posted by athenasbanquet at 7:49 PM on March 16 [6 favorites]


A lot of people are justifiably going to nope right out because of the first episode. It's from a story written by Peter Hamilton because of course it is, and it's pretty much all men involved in the production and you can tell. I liked the twists of the story, but it's very problematic. It's very 1996.

The third episode, The Witness, is also problematic. The only thing I liked about it was the unusual animation style and quirks, which impressed me.

I've only watched the first four, so far. No sexual violence, explicit or implicit, in the other two.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:09 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Need it be said that 3 of the 18 short films ("Three Robots", "When The Yogurt Took Over"and "Alternate Histories") are based on stories by MeFi's Own John Scalzi?

For my sake, yes. I did not know this. Thanks! Because those three are the ones I'm going to watch first now, and the rest depending on what all of you are recommending. ;)
posted by bigendian at 9:13 PM on March 16 [7 favorites]


The Witness is basically just fetish porn and a terrified near nude woman in an extended chase scene. Extremely gratuitous and ultimately pointless.

It’s future vision of Hong Kong is impressive though.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:52 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


YES Three robots is my favorite so far andI saw John Scalzi and was like "EXTRA YES!" I haven't watched all the shorts yet, but I really enjoy them overall. But so far I want more three robots.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:13 AM on March 17


I'd also recommend "Helping Hand", from a short story by Claudine Briggs. Visceral, yes, but didn't look problematic to me. As far as I can tell.
posted by Mogur at 3:14 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


I just watched "Three Robots" and of course a Scalzi story would be about cats.
posted by octothorpe at 6:04 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


I watched "Beyond the Aquila Rift" at someone's recommendation and was thoroughly unimpressed. A poorly animated bog-standard science fiction story that would have been considered a cliche 50 years ago, but with screwing.

Since the episodes are unrelated to each other, I'll probably give some of the others a try. I'll definitely take a look at the Scalzi ones.
posted by kyrademon at 10:36 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


OK, watched "Three Robots". Significantly better. A little one-note through most of it, but largely redeemed in the end by the cat plot.
posted by kyrademon at 11:44 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the feedback - I really appreciate it. We followed it up with “When The Yogurt Took Over” and that was a good unicorn chaser. (Thanks, Metafilter’s own!)

Ugh. I guess I would be really pissed to have watched “Yogurt” first and decided the rest were fine based on that (especially if I was worried about a kid watching or something) but I feel like it’s going to cut down on people continuing the series. Wild idea, Netflix: what about just NOT DOING GROSS GRATUITOUS RAPEY STORIES? Or is that too much to ask?
posted by athenasbanquet at 11:51 AM on March 17 [9 favorites]


"A poorly animated bog-standard science fiction story that would have been considered a cliche 50 years ago, but with screwing."

I'm in favor of screwing. It's not something I do that often, mind, but yay screwing! Nudity and screwing on the TV? Great!

Even so, none of the nudity and screwing in these shorts sat right with me. I'm sure when I was a teenage boy, I'd have thought all of it was awesome, because all of it felt like I was seeing through the eyes of a horny, straight, teen boy.

So I see now from googling that this is intended to be an updated Heavy Metal, which I did, in fact, watch and love in 1981 as a sixteen-year-old horny, straight teen boy.

This does resonate with me as homage, but even as an homage I wouldn't have approached it this way in 2018 if I were producing. It feels tone-deaf to me now.

Speaking of Scalzi, his Saturn's Children managed to be both an homage and a critique of Heinlein. This can be done.

Here's a content summary:

Ep. 1: "Sonnie's Edge" -- #rapey #malegazeachievementunlocked #skullcrunch1
Ep. 2: "Three Robots" -- #yayscalzi #catz
Ep. 3: "The Witness" -- #peepshow #nudewomaninperil #yetmoremalegaze
Ep. 4: "Suits" -- #cornballmechs #needinsulin
Ep. 5: "Sucker of Souls" -- #coolgirlsidekick1 #catz
Ep. 6: "When The Yogurt Took Over" -- #yayscalzi #lotsayogurt
Ep. 7: "Beyond the Aquila Rift" -- #yousaidyouwantedmalegaze #distrustwomen
Ep. 8: "Good Hunting" -- #fuckcolonialism #rapeybecausewhynot
Ep. 9: "The Dump" -- #needtetanusshot #dangleoldredneckwang
Ep. 10: "Shape-Shifters" -- #homoeroticwerewolvessureokay #skullcrunch2
Ep. 11: "Helping Hand" -- #spaceiscoldvacuuminsulateswaitwhat #nophysicists #butnewtons3rdlawsopartialcredit
Ep. 12: "Fish Night" -- NW
Ep. 13: "Lucky 13" -- #iminlovewithmycar #ivegotthefeelzformyautomobilz
Ep. 14: "Zima Blue" -- NW
Ep. 15: "Blindspot" -- #coolgirlsidekick2
Ep. 16: "Ice Age" -- #definitelyswanwick #maryelizabethwinsteaduncannyvalley
Ep. 17: "Alternate Histories" -- #yayscalzi #hitlerisfunny #butmurderinghitlerisfunnyright
Ep. 18: "Secret War" -- NW

NW = not yet watched
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:08 PM on March 17 [19 favorites]


I was impressed with this series. It was basically an animated Heavy Metal magazine where the animation had improved since the 80s, but the plots, writing, and misogyny stayed the same. Which is to say, some of the writing was great, occasionally female characters are not defined by their sexuality, but everything looked really cool.

As a mostly non-gamer, I hadn't realized the state of the art photorealist computer animation had gotten so far. There were entire scenes that leapt beyond the uncanny valley for me. Whoa!

If I had a complaint (other than the gratuitous sexual assaults, ugh) is that plot-wise they are all pretty conventional. I would have liked to see more Ted Chiang and less suppressing fire.

Still, good on Netflix for giving this a shot and I hope for a S2.
posted by gwint at 4:25 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


Yeah any woman reading this who is not excited to watch a short film whose entire plot is about fetishizing sexual violence against women (and literally nothing else, at all) should avoid "The Witness" altogether.

I nearly noped out of the series after ep1 and ep3. Dear god, what a stupid rapey mess!

Frankly, I understand that the animation here is of good quality. But watching a nude woman run haphazardly through a filthy metropolis in abject terror is infuriating to me. Especially in 2019.
1) No woman on earth would run down the street totally nude without at least holding her (obviously large) breasts down with her hands, because it is incredibly painful. Like you would just stop running because it's too painful.

3) Even worse, she's being chased by a man in a frigging trench coat, fully clothed and wearing what appear to be good quality leather boots? *hulk smash*
I now want to beat whomever produced this senseless with a double-ended dildo. Apologies for the spoilers, but it's ridiculous and I'd like to spare anyone from suffering through it that doesn't have to.

I want to force whomever made The Witness to run in abject panic, ding dong flapping everywhere helplessly in terror, then make him/them do an elaborate, unnecessary stripping routine and then watch him/them get stabbed to death spreadeagled, naked, in Times Square with a close-up of his genitals on the JumboTron as we hear his final death gasps. Does that sound super-entertaining? No? Huh. I wonder why?

*tableflip.gif*

(I really don't give a damn about the quality of the animation if it's just to make rapey cartoon porn. God forbid someone do an elaborate storyline about spacefaring metal-loving tardigrades, and find a way to tie that into the Heavy Metal canon somehow.)

A friend convinced me to at least give Zima Blue a try, so I'll watch that one when I'm not about to stroke out with rage.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:10 PM on March 17 [16 favorites]


I got a really icky vibe from the promotional materials, and it disappoints me to hear that several of the episodes of this anthology followed through on that gross promise.

I'm not going to feel even a little bit guilty about skipping the whole thing. Even if some of the pieces are good, I don't want to even tangentially endorse whoever greenlit all the rape fetish shit.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:36 PM on March 17 [3 favorites]


I too had a strongly visceral reaction to The Witness.   It was misogynistic and gaze-y as people noted, but what really set me off was that it was unforgivably, egregiously stupid.  You could see the ending twist coming a mile away, and worse it made no fuckin' sense.  The loop felt like a twist for the sake of a twist, not something that carried any actual meaning, much less any explanation for its existence, and it pissed me off.  It felt like a twist a high schooler would come up with, and think themselves clever for it.

The whole run was a bit inconsistent, but I can generally forgive that just for the sheer fun of seeing lots of good animation and funky stories—both clever and mediocre.  It reminded me a bit of Liquid Television way back when on MTV, with the same hit or miss quality of stories—all the series was missing was a random modernized episode of Æon Flux.  Three Robots was a delight, and Ice Age had me laughing out loud. "I mean come on, everyone knows wooly mammoths died out some time in the late Neolithic period."

If you're on the fence about them, I recommend going ahead and watching.  If it seems icky, skip to the next one.  And hey, at least Netflix's metrics will show them which ones get skipped, so there's that bonus too. Besides, any anthology that has a women shoot Dracula in the peen and laugh can't be all bad.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 10:41 PM on March 17 [7 favorites]


Saturn's Children is Stross, not Scalzi.
posted by whuppy at 5:18 AM on March 18 [4 favorites]


Oops.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:15 AM on March 18


Ep. 12: "Fish Night" : #joerlansdale #texas #1950's #ghosts #gore #malenudity #nowomenatall

Ep. 14: "Zima Blue": #impliedmalenudity #pretentiousart

Ep. 18: "Secret War": #sovietrussia #boomexplosions #holyshitviolent
posted by soundguy99 at 6:36 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


So 18 episodes, 2 of which were written by/based on a short story by women and (as far as I can tell) 0 female directors. Healthy dose of male gaze + (sexual) violence against women. Because as we all know, women can't write or direct sci-fi for shit.

Yeah I'm out. +1 to the tableflip.gif sentiment.

Bonus: Released during National Women's Month, so A+ timing there.
posted by athenasbanquet at 7:12 AM on March 18 [5 favorites]


fwiw, both "Helping Hand" and "Lucky 13" feature non-male-gazey female heroes
posted by gwint at 8:23 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]


I too found it very hit and miss; loved the scalzi ones. The first one and Zima Blue were interesting to see on screen since I have read the short stories.

Season 2 would be welcome if they toned down a bit of the gratuitousness. Overall it felt like reading a short story anthology, chosen by a sixteen year old.
posted by Marticus at 7:04 PM on March 18


Yeah, I was really looking forward to this series, but it did not sit well with me and I'm glad to see that others had the same reaction.
Sonnie's Edge and Good Hunting were particularly aggravating with their "I'm an empowered woman with my boobs out getting revenge on all those bad wandering rapists" shtick without a hint of irony. If your deal is that you want to watch sexy women writhing around and getting their heads caved in, can you at least just own it without paying lip service to some twisted parody of feminism...
posted by limnerent at 7:33 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]


The more I think about Sonnie's Edge the less sense the twist makes. When her friends rescued her they saved her body... but her skull was "shattered"... but apparently her brain/mind was intact... and they had access to incredible advanced biotech... so they put her brain/mind inside a monster instead of say, growing her a new head? "Hey Sonnie, bad news, your body is destroyed, good news, you can still live on, bad news, you're living on in a monster that has to constantly fight for its life, good news, you can still use your old body like a meat puppet to fuck." And this is, somehow, female empowerment.

Also, "Turboraptor" was a terrible name for the opponent monster in the fight. That thing was clearly something more like "Rhinosaur"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:42 PM on March 19 [5 favorites]


This is interesting - Netflix has confirmed that there are variations in the episode order presented to different viewers. They don't explain how they determine who sees what episode order, but there are apparently 4 different versions being served to viewers as some kind of test.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:00 AM on March 20 [1 favorite]


We started watching the series last night and, yeah, the ultra-violence and hyper-male-gaziness was pretty offputting. Overall, the feel of most of the episodes we saw was that of really well-done videogame cutscenes, with way over-the-top violence and females being naked and abused at every opportunity.

We made it as far as The Dump, but I’m not sure if we’ll finish the rest. Maybe pick-and-choose.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:43 PM on March 20


Zima Blue was very pretty, but the narrative was insidious and pernicious in the way that songs like "The Old Folks At Home (Swannee River)" and "Sweet Sunny South" are. those songs are stories of former slaves supposedly missing the good old plantation days, and this is a story of a sophisticated, wealthy, brilliant figure -- styled as a black man -- nostalgic for the times when he was just the simplest of servants.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 10:36 PM on March 20 [7 favorites]


I'd have to dig up the short story to double-check, but I don't remember that the story specified on the inventor/robot's race; so I wonder if it was a decision made for the animation. (It's been an age since I read it though, so I could've forgotten)

The other thing the short cut from the book was an entire second conversational line, where the reporter had a robotic memory-companion which would remember things perfectly, but Zima was recommending embedded memory augments, such that memories could be tinged with emotion. (Oddly enough I thought that was the more interesting part reading it)
posted by CrystalDave at 10:57 PM on March 20


Well they showed me "Beyond the Aquila Rift" first and I haven't given enough of a shit to watch the rest of them.
posted by Seamus at 8:43 AM on March 21


This would have been so much better if the stories had been more well-rounded and less male gazey. You can absolutely have nudity and sex without it being as gross as this, sex is supposed to be fun for all involved parties. I feel like Scalzi was the only one having any fun with these stories. And where are all the amazing award-winning female authors out there? Where's N.K. Jemison? Ann Leckie? Becky Chambers? Naomi Novik? Where's my adaptation of She Commands me and I Obey?

I guess they picked "modern day Heavy Metal" as their theme and good for them for nailing that, but you could do so much more with a modern animated Sci-Fi anthology than "tits and gore"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:14 PM on March 21 [8 favorites]


Well they showed me "Beyond the Aquila Rift" first and I haven't given enough of a shit to watch the rest of them.

Lucky you. We got Sonnie’s Edge first. I could tell the missus was having a hard time with it, and I came real close to nope-ing out a couple of times. For us, stories that seem to rely on little more than graphic violence and titilation are just damned lazy writing. Sure, they wrap it all in a lot of CG eye-candy, but that’s pretty much lipstick on a pig.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:01 PM on March 21


I should have noped out the second a female character gives an impassioned "You don't get it -- she was raped!" speech to some guy she doesn't know and clearly doesn't care about. I get both the trivialization of sexual violence and the laziest of exposition? OH BOY.

I'm so glad that some animators got the chance to really perfect the physics of their nipple-wobbles. What a shame it would have been if more women had, you know, clothes in thematically and situationally appropriate contexts--such a wonderful opportunity would have been lost.

All I can think about is Netflix cancelled One Day at a Time and now has this.
posted by meese at 9:00 PM on March 21 [4 favorites]


Oh, and another thing...

"Love Death Robots".... Now, I haven't watched all of the episodes. But in the ones I saw, I saw a lot of death and I saw some robots. But the only thing in any way close to love I've seen is rape. And I think that is maybe the grossest thing about this series.
posted by meese at 9:04 PM on March 21 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure why people are so surprised and up in arms about the objectification and sexual violence in these films. Because seriously, this is what's considered adult science fiction and fantasy by Hollywood these days.

I mean consider:

Game of Thrones is rapetastic. Westworld is built around rape and treating women like objects. Altered Carbon treats women as sexbots. The Magicians had its sexual assault scene in the first episode (where I noped out), and everybody's critical favorite The Expanse kills off in the first episode the only women to have any real characterization. Castlevania introduces an interesting woman in the first episode, than brutally kills her to motivate the villain.

And then in movies we have Bladerunner where the woman is created for a man, absEx Machina where a woman literally had to convince a man she's sentient.

Seriously, what the hell do people expect? This is the face of adult scifi/fantasy these days; a big part of it involves threatening, objectifying and abusing women. So why are people NOW going "Hey man, too much male gaze, too much sexual assault"? Is it because it's animation?

Seriously, if you don't want women to be treated as sex objects, watch children's animation or superhero stuff. Oh wait, Wild Cards is coming out. The guesses how women are going to be treated in that...
posted by happyroach at 8:03 AM on March 22 [3 favorites]


The stories are a mixed bag. Reminds me of Black Mirror, where I noped out after the first episode because of implied pig rape. Anyways, I got back to Black Mirror eventually and loved it.

There is a lot of male gaze stuff in Love Death Robots. I don't know that it's balanced by a bunch of male nudity. And there is quite a bit of gratuitous on-female violence and rapiness. Problematic episodes should be called out, because there's no need for it. Ultimately, it kind of reminded me of a Spike & Mike's Animation Festival Gauntlet thing.

But there are some episodes that I would recommend: Three Robots (decayed human bodies), Helping Hand (visceral injuries depiction), Zima Blue, Ice Age (What's Topher Grace up to), and Lucky 13 (space war military violence). These are all low-time-investment shorts, so I probably liked the majority of them enough. Suits (farmer mechs brutally fighting aliens), Blind Spot (cyborg dismemberment) and Sucker of Souls (human dismemberment) were okay. I also liked Good Hunting, about japanese myths transitioning from pre-industrial to steampunk, but it uses prostitution and rape as a plot device.

I read enough pulpy sci fi, so I guess I like watching it in bite sized morsels.
posted by 90s_username04 at 5:51 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


The only episodes I especially liked were the first two John Scalzi stories, Three Robots and When The Yogurt Took Over, and, slightly less, Ice Age. I sort of liked Lucky 13, and Helping Hand was okay.

I disliked most of the others and just kept watching hoping to fins something worth it. I skipped most of the big fight scenes. Gratuitous gore just doesn't do it for me.

I did appreciate the wide variety of animation styles, but the near-realistic ones all dipped well into the uncanny valley for me.
posted by Tabitha Someday at 8:45 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I’m with a lot of people here - there’s stuff to like in this series but god is there a lot of rapey male-gazey bullshit alongside it.

Reading between the lines, Netflix wanted an 18 cert series, because that’s what their metrics said they need & that was part of the brief. If you’re an animation studio that’s given a short story & the requirement to make it 18 this is clearly the easiest way to do that :(

Honestly, several of the stories would have been much, much stronger without the artificially injected sex and/or violence. “Beyond The Aquila Rift” especially doesn’t need it.

meese: "Love Death Robots"

Yeah, where was the love exactly? Where were the 18 cert episodes that were that way because they depicted future cybernetic love?

I watched these because I’m a sucker for the SFnal literature of ideas & that’s in short supply in the modern world despite all the soi-disant "SF" TV series that drape themselves in the tropes of modern SF, but I was left thinking that they could have been so, so much better.
posted by pharm at 2:16 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


Yeah, where was the love exactly? Where were the 18 cert episodes that were that way because they depicted future cybernetic love?

It’s definitely mislabelling by I assume that because not even Netflix will let you call your series Tits, Gore and Rapebots.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:44 PM on March 23 [6 favorites]


I've watched about half of them and there's also a dearth of robots in it. The Scalzi one had the advertised three robots but so far there's been a few Mechs and very few robots.
posted by octothorpe at 7:18 AM on March 24


So, basically Mumble Death Mumble, then?

I'm grateful for this thread saving me the time and effort of bothering to watch this.
posted by kokaku at 7:49 AM on March 24


I've gotten through maybe about half or a little more of the episodes, and agree with the general take on these. See, I really liked Heavy Metal back in the day, but that was because I was thirteen in 1977, and, because newsstand proprietors (remember newsstands?) either didn't understand what Heavy Metal was really all about or maybe knew that it wasn't classified as pornography, even though they watched sneaky little teens like me like a hawk if we got anywhere near the "adult" magazines, I could flip open Heavy Metal and there was some guy in your standard postapocalyptic wasteland getting a beej from a giantess, for some reason. I've got some HM collections that an acquaintance gave me because he didn't want them laying around his house for his teenage son to find, but couldn't bear to throw them away, and it's remarkable to look at what they were selling: a lot of genuinely sophisticated art, especially compared to what mainstream American comics of the time were selling, combined with the most blatantly gratuitous fanservice in the form of female nudity and sexual activity (also some occasional peen, but almost always played for laughs). You'd have someone like Serpieri with his own riff on the postapocalyptic wasteland, and in the middle of it was Druuna, built like a 70s Playmate and wearing nothing or next to nothing, having sex with grotesque mutants or humans or grotesque mutants pretending to be humans. Contemplating this stuff today is way more embarrassing than any number of class portraits of me with zits and a leisure suit. I think that that's why I didn't really feel the need to see the Heavy Metal movie more than once, because there was something slightly mortifying about seeing these masturbatory fantasies splashed across a big screen, the occasional deft touch (such as having John Candy narrate "Den", and maintain the presence of the gangly teenager inside the totally jacked and well-hung wasteland hero) notwithstanding.

And so it is with this stuff, even with the superior (and sometimes really clever) animation. "Sonnie's Edge" and "The Witness" aren't just rapetastic, they're pretty obviously meant to be fanservicey. Ditto for "Beyond the Aquila Rift", which should otherwise be square in my wheelhouse (visually, it looks the way that I wish that Mass Effect: Andromeda did); as with the two previously mentioned, it tries to mitigate its ridiculously-telegraphed plot twist with sex scenes that have all the emotional content of Rule 34 Poser porn of your favorite videogame characters. And the sad thing is, the adaptations of Scalzi's short stories show the route that they could have taken with this project in general, going for funny and genuinely clever ideas with maybe even a little bit of pathos mixed in. I'll finish it, hoping to glean something out of the rest of the series, but I'm more than a bit hesitant to recommend it to people in general, or will be very specific about which episodes I recommend.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:13 AM on March 24 [8 favorites]


Happyroach, I'd argue that you're wrong about The Expanse (see: Bobbie Draper is the protagonist of an entire book/isn't sexualized at all in the series -- at least through near-close to finishing book 7, Avasarala is the only Earth character that appears throughout the entire series and has an incredibly strong position of power/isn't sexualized at all, Naomi is similarly the protagonist of an entire book in the 9-part series and a key player in the ongoing plot, Drummer, Michio Pa, etc.). However, you'd have to keep watching the series/read all the books to know that.

I'll drop that thread now, since I haven't commenced watching the remaining short films here.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:00 PM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Having read the original Beyond the Aquila Rift I can say they did my man Alastair Reynolds dirty. They do have sex in the story but it's passed over quickly and acts as a turning point in the plot. It is not an extended all-over-the-room fuckfest.

The vision of Thom's actual reality was pretty well executed versus the short story version. Drives home that even if you find yourself in the hands of a benevolent alien you're probably going to find their hospitality deeply unpleasant.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:06 PM on March 24 [5 favorites]


there’s stuff to like in this series but god is there a lot of rapey male-gazey bullshit alongside it.

Yeah - I regret saying "better than I had hoped", because the first episode was so bad (other than technical animation quality) and it felt like it was written by teenage techbro's.

And then "The Witness", ugh - so much gratuitous nudity. Perhaps it will get better, if it gets another season. Look at the first episode of Black Mirror - pretty nasty - would send most people running away without continuing.
posted by jkaczor at 9:58 AM on March 25


Interestingly my partner, who is a cis woman with triggers about sexual violence, says Sonnie's Edge is one of her favorite episodes, and she's a huge fan of The Witness too.

Overall I liked many of the episodes, but yeah, there's a whole lot of male gaze going on and I'd hope that in season two they'll dial that way back. Just because you **CAN** put in gratuitous boobs doesn't mean you **SHOULD**. By an odd quirk of fate the first six or so episodes I saw included male nudity, but no female nudity and at first I was all "wow, this is refreshing!" Then I got to the more gratuitous ones....

I'm fairly sure that in terms of number of scenes with male nudity seen vs. number of scenes with female nudity seen it's close to equal, but the male nudity is played for the grotesque or funny and not designed to appeal to a male gaze while the female nudity is very male gaze oriented.

Good Hunting, one of my least favorite episodes, is a good example of the difference in which male and female nudity was used. We first see the "victim" man bound to his bed, nude, writhing, and (very unusually for non-porn media) fully erect. But it's not erotic, it's not meant to be erotic, and it's not designed to appeal to the female gaze. But every time we see either the titular hunter or her mother nude there's very much a male gaze aspect, and even in some non-nude scenes. The first time the tinker is working on her new body, the hunter is bent over pushing her butt at his face. The other male nudity in the episode was the governor, and it was intended to be grotesque rather than appealing to the female gaze.

In The Dump there's plenty of ugly guy penis, but again it's more comic than anything else and certainly not there to appeal to the female gaze.

The closest you could find for any male nudity angled for the female gaze would be in Fish Night, and even that wasn't nearly as sexually presented as any of the female nudity was.

The one female nudity for humor I can think of was in Alternate Histories with the topless protester.

Still, just for Zima Blue I'd approve of the series, and I thought Lucky 13, Helping Hand, and The Secret War were bloody amazing, with the three Scalzi episodes (Yogurt, Alternate Histories, and Three Robots) being good examples of how SF can be funny and interesting.

I'll give season two a shot.
posted by sotonohito at 12:14 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


The one female nudity for humor I can think of was in Alternate Histories with the topless protester.

Guess your mind blotted out the naked Hitler prostitute orgy... (or did my mind make it up on recall? yikes, now I will have posted this 4-ever...)
posted by jkaczor at 12:38 PM on March 27 [1 favorite]


I would definitely suggest hunting around for episodes that work for the viewer. Here is a Vulture list ranking each episode. It definitely gave "Witness" a hard pass. I agree that Aquila Station sex scene was definitely skippable. I expect some of the scenes will find their way to Naughty Machinima.

I found it great that two stories feature cats: Three Robots and Sucker of Souls. It is right and good that they were once worshipped as gods. I feel that I need to buy a statue of Bast as a tribute and guardian.
posted by jadepearl at 4:03 AM on April 3


The Vulture writer thinks that all the non-freezer parts of Ice Age were "live-action". I was certain when I watched it that it was very good CGI that used mocap and just recreated the actors. But maybe I was just primed to assume it was CGI.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:22 AM on April 3


Watching this series, aside for story, is to the state of the animation/CGI at this time. I am sorely impressed how far it has come and how much closer we are to the question of what is real and perceived as real. So, I totally get the assumption of CGI in place of real actors.
The lines are becoming blurry in many ways. VR has its evangelists, and in conversation with one, I realized that the divide between those who create vs. those who consume is becoming starker. It is hard for me to formulate, but it seems, to me, that there have never been as many tools to enable creativity, production, and distribution and yet...

I need some time to digest the implications about whether the touted idea that VR experiences will be deemed "real" by the mind is something too much to ask of carbon-based forms. What does the top of the Maslowian pyramid look like? All illusion? Ah, best to return to reading Zen death poems to get me sensible again.
posted by jadepearl at 5:06 PM on April 3


I'm in the middle of bingewatching all of them - and am strangely charmed by "ice Age". Or, rather, I'm strangely charmed by Topher Grace in Ice Age. For some reason, hearing him react to the sight of a teeny tiny Medieval castle in his fridge with a deadpan "....Huh," made me laugh out loud.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:43 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


[Sonnie's Edge] felt like it was written by teenage techbro's

It's from a Peter Hamilton story, so what you're missing is that the teenage-techbro writing it is also incapable of imaging that someplace might not be suburban England.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 12:15 PM on April 7


(or even imagining. I've no idea what sorts of imaging equipment he has.)
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:49 PM on April 7


So knowing a bit about this before I dipped a toe in, I picked "Three Robots" to start, and let it keep rolling. That meant I somehow got "Sonnie's Edge"and " The Witness" back to back as the playlist unfolded, which was really unpleasant. "Suits" was at least a decent if meh palate cleanser after that, but "Sucker of Souls" was really flat and uninteresting, and now I have stopped. 1 good, 2 bad, and 2 indifferent. Not great.

I may dip back in for the other Scalzi pieces but I am disappointed; this could have been a really interesting place to experiment.
posted by nubs at 6:15 PM on April 8


Oh man, I wish I had checked here first before we watched the first series. I was really looking forward to it as I love animation and science fiction, but yeah, Sonnie's Edge made me so angry and I can tolerate A LOT, A LOT of cringey stuff, but yeah, I noped out! I did not want to watch another episode after that and we had planned to watch a bunch last night.
posted by Calzephyr at 10:26 AM on April 14


I just watched "Three Robots" and of course a Scalzi story would be about cats.

Hoping for a sequel involving cats _and_ bacon.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:08 AM on April 15


Hoping for a sequel involving cats _and_ bacon.

If the yogurt wills.
posted by nubs at 7:27 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Finally finished all of them and it really wasn't worth the trouble. Most of them were just so boring and the animation mostly just looked like game cut-scenes. The Scalzi ones were fun and I liked the animation in Zima Blue but that was about it. Secret War was probably the worst for me since it didn't seem to have any plot other than Russians shooting monsters. It looked more like a trailer for a new game than an actual narrative.
posted by octothorpe at 5:13 AM on April 26


I just watched "3 Robots" with my cat. He seemed amused.
posted by signal at 5:19 AM on May 24 [1 favorite]


"Love, Death and Robots" will be back! Jennifer Yuh Nelson has joined as supervising director for Volume 2 and will oversee all episodes
posted by octothorpe at 12:17 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


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