Monday, November 9, 2020

Series Review: Upload

If you had the chance to extend your life by being uploaded into virtual reality would you do it? What would your afterlife be like in it? What kind of complications would that kind of existence bring? That is what is being tackled in the Amazon show called Upload.

Upload stars Robbie Amell, who plays Nathan, a software programmer who suddenly dies during a self-driving car accident. His girlfriend Ingrid decides to upload him to a virtual afterlife called Lake View, where he lives under her account/virtual life plan. As he tries to navigate his life in Lake View, he must deal with the fact that any complication with his girlfriend could mean his death if she decides to stop paying for his account. Along the way, he also starts to have a relationship with his “angel,” a customer service representative of his virtual reality.

During the first season, Nathan attempts to find a way to continue in the virtual afterlife without having to deal with Ingrid. With the help of his angel Nora, he also finds out that he was possibly murdered because of the program that he had helped develop with his friend that was going to rival the company that owns Lake View. 

The show only had ten episodes during the first season, with each episode lasting less than an hour so it made the series quite easy to watch. Even if the topic of death and later, murder, was tackled, the show was a light watch and was interesting enough to keep going even if the pacing was a bit slow. Sometimes there was a tendency on focusing more on the advanced technology that the timeline of this show is affected. It felt like to was trying to show the modern things more than having the plot move further along. I did not mind since it was a good way to see how far tech could most likely go in the future.

One of the things I enjoyed about the show was the whole “whodunit” about Nathan’s death. At one point or another, the show gives you clues that point a finger at several characters, each with a valid but hypothetical reason for wanting Nathan dead. Each additional suspect would leave the viewer confused about who was ultimately responsible for Nathan’s murder. 

Upload posed a question for its viewers about whether they would want to be uploaded into a virtual afterlife. While there is the advantage of a comfortable life as an upload, there are too many aspects of it that did not make it an attractive option for me. Just the fact that you would be paying for that afterlife through the real world would mean you need an unlimited supply of money. Having someone handle your account in the real world would also mean if you suddenly piss that person off, you could end up dead in the upload. 

Another afterlife disadvantage of being uploaded that was shown in the series was if you died as a child. There was this one boy who had stayed young and looked young even if he had been dead for six years. No matter how much older he was he would remain a child. There was also the case of the grandmother who died: the family obviously wanted her uploaded as a young woman, so they gave a photo of her that was in black and white. As a result, she was the same color in the uploaded world. Given the disadvantages, I think the old-fashioned definition of the afterlife sounds a lot better no matter how attractive the amenities of a virtual afterlife can be. 

I read that Upload has been approved for a second season by Amazon. Given that the show ended on a cliffhanger it is good that they have the chance to explore Nathan’s murder and the relationship that he had with Nora, his customer service angel. Having Ingrid uploaded onto the virtual afterlife will be an additional complication that will make things interesting, although I have to say that it was such an extreme move on her part. 

If you are interested in sci-fi, a bit of comedy and drama on the side, Upload may be worth checking out.


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