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Netflix’s “Love, Death & Robots” is a mixed bag of science fiction with mixed success

LDR

It’s pretty hard not to run into Netflix’s new original series “Love, Death & Robots” when looking for something new to binge. No matter what genre you’re searching for, the show will probably pop up — it’s science fiction, comedy, action, drama, arguably even soft-core pornography (but we’ll get to that).

The 18-episode series is an anthology of individual science fiction stories, each based in their own universe. Fitting with the name, “Love, Death & Robots” starts off with the sexy, gory and dystopian “Sonnie’s Edge” — essentially a story about the future of dogfighting, but with bloodthirsty, mind-controlled monsters.

Paired with the polar-opposite “Three Robots,” a clever and comedic social commentary on human existence (and extinction) that immediately follows, these intro episodes are a perfect primer for the rest of the series and contain some of the greatest aspects of “Love, Death & Robots,” from the quick and captivating world-building to the unexpected endings.

This tone is carried through the show’s best episodes: stories like the fast-paced chase between a man and woman in “The Witness,” the philosophical exploration into the intersection of human and machine in “Zima Blue” and the action-packed homage to 90’s animation in “Blindspot” all encapsulate what makes the show great.

“Love, Death & Robots” also shines in its diversity of content and constant creativity, with no shortage of questions about the future explored and ideas brought up in each episode — I mean, one story even tackles the conflict between human and artificial intelligence through the takeover of the US government by sentient yogurt (appropriately named “When the Yogurt Took Over”). The diversity is also seen in the runtimes — ranging from 6-17 minutes — and unique art styles of each episode, whether it be vibrant, video game-like cel-shading, life-like CGI, or 2-D animation reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons.

However, for every incredibly interesting and captivating episode, there are unfinished, unfunny and unentertaining ones to kill the consistency. There’s basically no reason to watch the 8-minute art-piece-without-a-plot “Fish Night,” the anticlimactic closing war story “The Secret War” unless you just want to be able to say that you watched the entire show.

While these episodes won’t ruin your whole binge, one aspect that might is the overwhelming amount of full-frontal nudity that makes its way into a majority of episodes. It’s impossible to talk about this show without discussing how unnecessarily sexual it can get — it’s as if Netflix wants you to talk about it.

Props to you if you can get through this show without subconsciously counting the pairs of exposed… kneecaps… from scene to scene, and even bigger props if you don’t lose track by the end like I did. At least the show is able to indiscriminately flaunt animated racks and sacks, though.

Between the worst, the best and the breasts, there’s still a steady stream of either great, good or at least enjoyable content to keep you away from the “back to browse” button. Here are a few other notable episodes:

 

Suits: a simple “farmers vs. zombie invasion” turned on its side with mechs decked in missiles and machine guns.

Good Hunting: set during the industrialization of China, this story mixes mystical and mechanical aspects of science fiction to address issues of race and gender amidst European colonization.

Lucky 13: the best of the three true war stories in the collection, this is a sweet story of the relationship between a rookie pilot and her drop-ship. It’s not the most original of ideas, but the stunning CGI, first-person narration and strong female lead make for a nice break in the series.

 

Overall, if you have an appreciation for science fiction, interesting animation styles or short stories, this show is worth the watch — it’s only a four-hour commitment in total. But if none of this appeals to you already, this show probably won’t win you over. Maybe just dip your toes in with a couple of the best episodes.

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Will Tulp

Will Tulp
Will Tulp is the Harbinger's Online Editor-in-Chief this year. In his four years working for the publication, he has produced content for print, online and multimedia, winning awards at NSPA/JEA National Conventions and becoming a member of Quill and Scroll along the way. Outside of the Harbinger, Will is in IB, on the varsity soccer team and plays a few instruments. »

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