Today marks the launch of NBC’s newest streaming platform, Peacock. Much like similar services, there is tons of content from current television favorites, beloved shows from yore, and a wide variety of movies. Also available, are exclusive originals that can help convince people to sign up. Included in Peacock’s first wave is the science fiction drama, Brave New World.
The series is a retelling of the early twentieth century novel of the same name written by Aldous Huxley. The main setting is New London, a highly controlled society that has achieved peace and stability but at the expense of things such as monogamy, money, privacy, and money. Instead of the aforementioned items, citizens have Soma, a soothing, happiness making drug that suppresses their emotions. Not everyone is equal though, as there is a clear caste system with every member assigned a role based on their level.
In order to witness how life was before, New Londoners can visit the U.S. where the locals hold onto the old ways and can be observed in the Savage Lands. Bernard Marx and Lenina Crowne are two such residents that make the trip to the theme park and their lives are forever changed when they cross paths with John the Savage. They eventually bring their new friend back to their home where his different way of thinking begins to disrupt the social order.
The story closely follows the source material so fans of the book will find it very familiar. However, Brave New World isn’t a direct adaptation of the original. Some changes include updated material that makes it more relatable to the present such as the Savage Lands having a more trailer park trash feel compared to the Native Americans in the novel or having all New Londoners connected to a social media platform called INDRA that allows anyone to see what others are doing.
The more drastic deviations work really well and bring more intrigue to the series. For example, some of the characters are gender swapped that allows some talented actresses to shine such as Hannah John-Kamen (Antman and the Wasp), who plays the artistic alpha socialite, Wilhelmina “Helm” Watson. Lenina Crowne has a more prominent role and is given room for progression and growth. There is also an interesting take on the Ten, the main leaders of the world, that provides the show an opportunity to build upon its own mythology and is involved with a captivating running mystery.
Brave New World evolves throughout the season and embraces different styles to effectively convey the storytelling. Initially, to introduce this utopic world, campy and cheesy advertisements are sprinkled into the early episodes that give a fun Starship Troopers propaganda vibe. Then to draw the viewer in, there is an exciting escape with intense action and high production value as John, Bernard, and Lenina flee the Savage Lands. Later, to highlight their character development, it takes a soap opera turn with drama over how much they’ve changed and a pseudo love-triangle. Plus, there’s a ton of sex throughout with what seems to be an orgy every episode. The show’s seamless transitions to various genres keeps things fresh.
There are some aspects from the first season that didn’t work. There is the character CJack60 who is given ample screen time but doesn’t make significant contributions to the plot until the latter half. Also, with how well done the Savage Land escape is, the action sequences in the climactic finale are a bit disappointing.
The series keeps close enough to the original to satisfy the readers while paving its own way to create an original story set in this dystopian world. Overall, it is an enthralling show that’s a worthy launch title for a brand-new streaming service.
Season one of Brave New World, a Channel Surfing pick of the week, is now available on Peacock.