Upload: all episodes
May 3, 2020 3:41 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Upload is set in a future where humans are able to 'upload' themselves into their preferred choice of afterlife. When Nathan meets his early death, he is greeted by Nora in his version of heaven. The series follows the two as Nathan grows accustomed to life away from his loved ones, and the alive Nora struggles to stay afloat working her job alongside Nathan in the afterlife.

So, after co-creator-of-Parks-and-Recreation-and-writing-partner-on-The-Office Michael Schur's take on the afterlife, The Good Place... this is not. I mean, Rotten Tomatoes are giving it 81/94, so maybe... is it just me?
posted by progosk (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
It’s more light rom-com than deep philosophical treatise or solid comedy. I certainly enjoyed the main plot, but the various B-plots felt kind of wedged in to give it more structure, I guess? It felt like a lot of stuff either got dropped on the floor when it was inconvenient, only to suddenly show up again when it was necessary, in a way that a 10 episode season couldn’t really support. And then the last episode was sort of a will-it-be-renewed or won’t it mess, I can’t tell if it was intentional.

Also, I’m mildly annoyed that they never really explained why sometimes the angels could use sunglass-like headsets, sometimes they needed a full on Oculus Rift, with no clear distinction between the two. And aspects of the Uploaded afterlife weren’t really well thought out, I guess? If Uploads can’t work for a living, how does Horizen expect to continue to collect rent from the deceased? Or does everybody end up in the 2gig ghetto eventually?

And, not to be a prude, but there were aspects of the sexually charged segments that felt like they were only there because woo-hoo, not writing for broadcast TV!
posted by Kyol at 4:13 PM on May 3 [3 favorites]


Ally Allo was charming, the canine shrink bit worked, but so much of the other stuff was just... not worked out at all, it seemed. I've seen either of Schur and Daniels' previous collaborations, but since I definitely fell head-over-heels for The Good Place... it just feels hard to reconcile all the stuff that didn't work out right here with so much that did, there. Unfair to compare, it's true, but when both writers/creators share a lineage, it's kind of inevitable.
posted by progosk at 4:39 PM on May 3


Like, you get the impression they started out wanting to just play against type - look, a digital afterlife, wouldn't it be great? You can eat whatever you want and never have to work again and meet all kinds of interesting people and etc so forth, and they could knock them down one by one. But in the end, it never really makes a statement about the for-profit digital afterlife or Freeyond or the other non-Lakeview afterlives.

Hell, even the personality change for Nathan from an apparently scheming tech-bro wannabe to a rom-com lead was all over in what, the second episode? That barely felt like it was earned. We never really saw him as too much of a jerk, other than falling for Ingrid even though he was planning on breaking up with her. Hell, he prioritized pedestrians! So the late season reveal that he was a scheming jerk and waily waily felt like it came out of nowhere. I mean, I _almost_ don't care about the revelations about Nathan in the last 2 episodes because they didn't seem to make a lot of sense in light of all of the cloak and dagger implications going on throughout the season.

Yeah, Andy did the lion's share of carrying the emotional storyline between falling for Nathan and her father's illness and dealing with her manager. I mean, don't get me wrong, Robbie played his part well and was charming, but his character seemed kind of vague.
posted by Kyol at 4:46 PM on May 3 [2 favorites]


Yes, cipher as a lead is... not a great choice. And basically all of the other character are so overwritten (or played) that you don't really care about them, either. So is this one just an off project for Daniels, or... was Schur the genius all along?
posted by progosk at 4:53 PM on May 3


[oh, also err corr: I've seen *neither, above.]
posted by progosk at 4:56 PM on May 3


I found it generally pleasant to watch. My problem was that this is three things:

1. A comedy about the afterlife
2. A murder mystery
3. A social commentary about present society

...and I found #2 and #3 far more compelling than #1. It wasn't fall-down-funny enough to make it work as a pure comedy, so I became invested in the murder mystery and was frustrated that virtually no progress was made to solve it in the entire season. (A bit of setup in episode 1, two or three scenes with Cousin Fran played for comedy, and then the very last episode that ends with a cliffhanger before it gets somewhere.)

Also lots of weird things made it seem like they intended #1 way more than 2 and 3. For example, the inconsistent tech, the weird "Uploads aren't allowed to work" thing and the 2 Gig floor, when the obvious solution is to put those 2-Gigs to work operating a call center or doing data entry or something to pay for their afterlife.

The acting for Nathan was weak, he really seemed like he was hired for his looks. (Kudos for doing that with a male character instead of a female one, I guess.) Norah really made the show work, but frankly she could have done better than Nathan...

Don't get me wrong, if they released another season tomorrow I'd binge it. But I feel cheated out of any kind of closure from the 10 episodes I did watch. The last one especially, Nathan had a timer next to him counting down remaining data, and I realized the same thing was happening to me -- there was a timer counting down remaining minutes of the show, and they were wasting those minutes on things I didn't care about.
posted by mmoncur at 3:23 AM on May 4 [2 favorites]


I mean, it's impossible not to compare this to The Good Place. There's the candy-colored whimsy, a great setting (Mohonk! It really is like heaven there!), lots of random and darkly off-kilter throwaway humor. But somehow it just doesn't feel like a proper afterlife until somebody kicks a puppy into the sun. And the series suffers for it because it feels like it just doesn't go far enough, and when it does, like with the scanner-decapitations and the bloody elevator revenge in the last episode, it feels like it goes too far?.

Andy Allo and Robbie Amell were charming and appealing to watch as a couple, and their connection was believable and compelling for me, especially against such gorgeous and romantic scenery. I really liked Nora's dad and dealing with the choice he has to make. (And I've been thinking a lot today about how upload might and might not be a viable option for people dealing with severe and restrictive illnesses.) Allegra Edwards in the scuba suit in the dry bathtub made me laugh out loud. But that made for a weird tonal thing, too -- Nora's dad's story has a lot of heart and tenderness, but then every other character feels like they're on this madcap comedy series, and it feels unstable.

And I agree -- I wanted there to be more to Nathan, and I was a little confused by him ending up being a bit of a villain. I mean, if your memories are erased, does your capacity for selfish/evil behavior also go away? I wouldn't think so. We really don't see much bad behavior from him except maybe vanity. Hooking up with Ingrid when he wasn't feeling fully into the relationship was shallow, sure, but I can't call it villainous.

The Good Place had such a such a strong ensemble and the very nature of the show depended on that working as well as it did, and I found myself missing the energy and story propulsion that comes from different combinations/numbers of people interacting. It took me about eight episodes in to realize that most of the scenes in Upload were isolated 1:1 conversations (X talks to Y, Y talks to Z, Z talks to A), and so many of those strung together without variety resulted in it feeling a little bogged down. Nearly every scene in Upload was a character telling another character directly about themselves, with different degrees of honesty/candor/self-awareness -- but it's more fun and realistic to shuffle it up and allow characters and the audience to react and learn about characters from an angle.

I really did appreciate the small touches that zoomed by without comment. Ingrid's family's house was decorated in icy white, and every possible surface, of which there were many, was covered with a fluffy lambskin throw, and I find that absolutely hilarious. The self-driving car getting snippy and deliberately mis-hearing instructions. Everything in upload tasting like kettle corn before they could code in flavor complexity. The frame rate on the water. All those must have been fun to put together.
posted by mochapickle at 3:28 AM on May 4 [4 favorites]


So now that it's not the first comment in an all-season post, what was the backstory? Nathan and partner are trying to make something that would compete with the existing upload centers, either Freeyond or something P2P and they're trying to get funding for it. Fundamentally, it would shake up the existing rent-seeking structure. Nathan and Jamie turn down an offer by Oliver Kannerman's company because ... reasons not really specified. Nathan and Oliver have a discussion at Casa Kannerman where Nathan agrees to sell the technology behind Jamie's back.

I suspect at this point, Oliver decides it's cheaper to kill Nathan and steal the technology out of his head during the upload process than to follow through. Except that depends on being certain that Ingrid would upload her boyfriend? Or was it Josh Pitzer's group (you know, the ones who all died in a mysterious black market upload) who intended to kill Nathan to take him out of competition and Oliver just took advantage of the situation? I assume creepy assassin guy was running around to make sure the job was done and Nathan would never be able to remember what happened either by killing him in meatspace or killing his digital avatar.

And why was Jamie all mysterious all season long after Nathan's death?

But yeah, I agree with mmoncur - I'd binge the next season tomorrow, but I'm mildly annoyed that the only closure this season was Nathan standing up and doing the right thing and breaking up with Ingrid and moving down to the 2gig floor? But the rom-com kind of fell out, the murder mystery wasn't remotely resolved, the cultural commentary was kind of all over the place.
posted by Kyol at 7:09 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


(I just rewatched Ingrid's confession to her father and she says "[...] heard what you two were planning and snuck back into the car and changed it to "protect occupant."" And yet the car crashed into the parked truck anyway and didn't protect the occupant, so what was the point there?)
posted by Kyol at 8:09 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


And why was Jamie all mysterious all season long after Nathan's death?

When Jamie finally answered, he mentioned how he'd hooked up with Ingrid pretty much immediately after it happened. So I think they're going with the idea that he felt so guilty for getting together with Nathan's girlfriend that he simply couldn't face Nathan, although it's not clear whether there were other reasons as well.
posted by mochapickle at 8:24 AM on May 4 [3 favorites]


We binged this last night and found it pleasant and entertaining. Certainly enough to look forward to a second series.

Taking the first series as a whole, I come away feeling like it was mostly just a set-up for a second series. Every other scene seemed to have something in it screaming "Look at me! I'm Chekhov's gun!" Assumedly, they'll all go off next series?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:27 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


I think the evil plan was that the Ingrid's dad would buy the stolen code from Nathan and then open up the Freeyond to under cut Jaimie's Beyond. Maybe planning to have Freeyond collase or end up really shitty, just to discredit any free/discount heavens.

And I guess killing Nathan is to cover the loose ends, like if Uber had killed Anthony Levandowski after he passed them his stolen code. They would still have the code and not have owed google 300 million dollars.
posted by Iax at 10:46 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


So, when Nathan was uploaded, were we to assume that disintegrating his head was a normal part of the upload process? I mean, it seemed like it probably was normal, because it never came up again throughout the series, which it should have if it wasn’t normal. But, when Nathan is uploaded, both Ingrid and the other woman (Nathan’s mom? The lady with the legal forms?) seem really terrified when his head is vaporized. You would have thought they would know about that part of the process.

And, then there was the scene where the man was going to be the first to have his uploaded self re-integrated with his body, and his body still had his head.

And, all throughout the series, Ingrid keeps talking about how some day Nathan will be able to download into his real body and they can be together. Ingrid watched the upload process, so she knows Nathan’s real body has no head.

I know I’m seriously beanplating this, but I can’t make sense of it.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:42 PM on May 4


Part of the process - the black market uploading that happened to Pitzer had the same beheading. Remember, the reintegrated dude was sponsored my Oscar Mayer, so they made a new meat puppet for him and weren't pulling his old body back offa ice.

So it was mostly played for the gag, I think, but that's sort of the shallow thinking that the whole series was full of, yeah.
posted by Kyol at 1:58 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


Nobody noticed a self driving car driving off a piece, when such accidents are impossibly rare?
posted by benzenedream at 1:13 AM on May 6 [1 favorite]


Two extremely rare self-driving car accidents in one (extended) family, no that's not odd at all.
posted by Kyol at 7:28 AM on May 6 [2 favorites]


I really hated this, starting with the classic boring white dude who would be able to lead such an amazing actualized life if it weren't for the clingy, controlling woman holding him back, and then leading up to the love interest whose personality mostly consists of "inexplicably in love with the protagonist." So many things about this were awful, and then it ends on a cliffhanger. I won't belabor the point, probably the rom-com genre just isn't for me and I can't manage to suspend my disbelief (in the characters, not the world) enough to enjoy it as dumb fun.
posted by whir at 11:06 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]


Silence! I concur.

It was nice, but so thematically inconsistent that I am not even sure what really happened in the end.
posted by Marticus at 4:35 PM on May 10


I'm super annoyed at Nora for getting upset that he didn't answer at the end. She should know how the 2Gig area works. She could also go see him for herself! Ugh.

Or maybe she just realized that the guy who is real and excited about her is a better option...
posted by LizBoBiz at 4:53 AM on May 15


Got through four episodes, and although this is a topic I'm really interested in, I'm just not loving it at all.

There's something kinda Seth McFarlane-ish about this show, a relentless nasty shallowness. I feel like, in four episodes, more plot should have happened. It's just way more interested in selling out to gags. The way the 2gig thing was boiled down to dick jokes and another round of how the main character dude is just so hot and cool. Or yet another attempt at a saccharine character moment. Similarly, the treatment of the Coch-alike Choak dude as just dude who might be fun to hang out with, and helpful, is a giant red flag.

Still, I might end up watching it all just because it's like a viewing choice of last resort.
posted by fleacircus at 3:49 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


I thought it was fine at the beginning but then fell flat. Something about the first couple episodes reminded me of both The Good Place and Better off Ted, and the evil capitalism murder mystery throughline should have been enough to keep it fresh. Fran was hilarious. I thought this was going to be a show where Fran, Nora, and Nathan team up to solve his murder in their respective domains.

But then Fran's car drives itself off the pier without comment, and the series sort of fell apart after that. The Dylan episode was filler. Dylan-XX spends like 3 minutes getting ogled by golfing lechers; Nathan -- the guy whose first comment about Nora's avatar is that she's hot, whose first action in the entire series is to hit on a police officer to successfully get out of a speeding ticket -- is the one to be like "Now maybe you'll have empathy for women?" The episode played it for straight, but given everything we know about Nathan so far, I can't take it as anything but hypocrisy.

And their Winter's Eve presents?? Jesus. Nathan gives Nora's avatar a brooch made of a pebble from the beach where they met -- very Lifetime Movie Channel -- and Nora gives him a magical code-changing wand that could LITERALLY change his (after)life? And he uses it to repaint his bedside table? I also couldn't understand how Nathan used the coding wand to change things in the Real World where the random assassin is chasing Nora. (P.S. I thought at first that Random Assassin was the guy who was stealing Nora's veggies, what can I say, hipster white guys all look the same to me,)
posted by basalganglia at 5:51 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]


This was promising but ultimately underwhelming. The romantic aspect was entirely unappealing and the social satire lacked bite. It's possible I missed something, but it seemed the uploads in Horizen were exclusively white (with the exception of the 2gigs) and the angels were exclusively people of color (with the exception of the manager). I kept expecting the show to mention something about that, but nope. There's something off-putting about seeing two black women only ever talk about the white man they both adore so much.

I did find the whole commodification of the afterlife angle intriguing. There was a line about how uploads couldn't legally work, since they would drive down wages for the living. I could see that being a part of the grand conspiracy that murdered Nathan. Perhaps there are efforts to do away with that legislation and Freeyond is indeed a way for the poor to achieve eternal life, but in exchange, they will need to serve the paying customers of places like Horizen. The corporations that own the digital afterlives will then no longer need to pay living people to work as "angels".
posted by subocoyne at 2:58 PM on May 23 [1 favorite]


Wow, I'm reading this and wondering how people are missing a lot of stuff I picked up on. Like, there's so much stuff here that just seemed blatantly obvious to me.

The occupants of Horizen are mostly white (with a couple of exceptions) and the service people are mostly people of color or immigrants (with a couple of exceptions). It is a commentary on how race and racism have a big effect on which social strata you land on. We are living through this right now. People of color are dying of COVID-19 in the US at a far higher rate because they are in "essential" positions such as grocery stores, bus drivers, etc. Meanwhile, people who get to SIP and work from home are much more likely to be white.

Yes, sometimes people use full-VR headsets and sometimes they use computer glasses. It's a difference in your level of immersion. (Like the difference between watching a movie in your VR goggles vs. watching it on your phone.) And a phone call is...a phone call, and uses data differently. It's like if I use WiFi calling on my phone vs. calling my mom via cell towers from New Zealand.

Kinnaman says that he's going to get back at Nathan...and Nathan suddenly gets memories back that indicate he's a total asshole. We've already seen that Kinnaman (or his people) can get Nathan's memories deleted. Perhaps they inserted a few memories?

I don't know for sure, but I have a suspicion that Fran is not dead and that she's going to come back when no one expects it. Yes, the car she was in went off the Santa Monica Pier...but after that, her family said she was missing, not dead. Since someone was trying to murder her, it's pretty likely that they wiped the info on who was in the car off the hard drive. (It was a Lyft, not her car.)

Nathan used the coding wand to change the table because you test something like that on little things before you do something big. At least I do. Nathan did not change anything in the real world with it. He got access to maps, security cameras and building systems like the elevator controls, because he's a hacker, and TV hackers can hack everything. (*Handwave*) I have a friend who actually does that kind of building security stuff as his job, and I'm really interested to get his read on it when he hits that episode.

I found this charming. I enjoyed the social commentary and I'm really curious as to what happens next.
posted by rednikki at 12:45 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I am also surprised that most people here didn't like it. I thought the comedy was fine, but very few laugh out loud moments. I didn't compare it to The Good Place at all, because not only do the shows feel different, the basic idea is different, in that this is not actually an "afterlife". It's a virtual world for your brain data; we can get into the nuances of whether they're actually alive or just extremely advanced AI, but in the sense that it's a "real" afterlife for real souls, it's definitely not. On top of that the "dead" and the living were constantly communicating, which is definitely not a thing in The Good Place. Semantics aside, the theme of afterlife should involve the supernatural, and this has literally none of that. I immediately felt like that I'm watching a remnant of a person running around in a digital world.

I think what many are overlooking is that this is just the first season of a series-long or at least multi-seasons-long mystery. There were so many little bits that was no addressed that I figured we'll just need to keep watching to learn. Like, perhaps the Kannermans tried to kill Nathan, but were they also involved in Fran's attempted murder? What happened to Fran? Who slipped the EMP bomb into the Horizen server room? I don't fault shows for cutting these things short when it's obvious they're planning for more seasons. I also don't think Nathan's fully sold out Jaime. I think there were more memory issues than what we were shown, even he was surprised at himself for doing that, and if you know yourself, you shouldn't be surprised.

A couple of other points:
- The for-profit digital afterlife business is in fact ruthless, and yes, everyone will end up in 2gig when they run out of their money.
- We never actually see Nora get mad at Nathan when he gets frozen, even if she did, it's logical. She doesn't know how much data he used up trying to save her life. And like the other 2Gig occupant said, he was burning data like crazy on his first day. No one expects that. And maybe she never got mad, Byron was a good choice to get her to safety, because she had to go with someone not tied to her family.
- One thing I did roll my eyes at is that this is yet another show where the white male lead gets the girl of color, who was actually doing all the emotional (and actual!) labor. He does sacrifice something for himself to save her at the end, but I almost want Byron to turn out to be more likable next season and she just goes with him, and Ingrid somehow redeems herself and Nathan does go back to her.
posted by numaner at 8:19 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


I know there’s no way Thorzdad is reading this now, but they said like 18 times that the dude getting “downloaded” on TV was a clone. Ingrid’s expectation was that Nathan could have a clone made and download into that.
posted by jeoc at 8:09 AM on September 7


I felt the drama played up in the finale was ginned up. I don't get why Nora, who's no stranger to cutting corners at work and doing what it takes to make her dad happy, would get so angry at Nathan as if she was a naif. The show played his "betrayal" of Jamie as completely motivated by needing to provide for his family, and that Jamie was behaving recklessly. At least, she wouldn't be so mad that she would question his entire character. It's a little out of character.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:28 PM on October 13


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