Flynn said Christie’s diabolical plan doubles as “what is truly the thesis of the show” “I wanted to explain why he was doing it : Humans multiply like bacteria, like a virus and we are going to destroy the world”
The showrunner talks to IndieWire about the early reaction to her Amazon Prime series — including David Fincher’s.
The following interview contains spoilers for “Utopia” season one including the ending.
Releasing a television series about a fictional epidemic in the middle of a real world pandemic was always tricky and initial reactions to “Utopia” reflected as much.
What I have seen on social media is that there’s a certain segment of viewers which we know always about, who are simply not interested in seeing anything that has to do with a pandemic, said showrunner Gillian Flynn in an interview with IndieWire Tuesday morning. They are fatigued of it. It’s also interesting to watch people debate how close it is to the real pandemic, what they would do and which characters have the reactions they would have.
Part a prescient mystery, part shocking science fiction – the new series follows a group of friends who battle a mysterious corporation for control of a comic book that may hold the key to stopping a viral outbreak. This core story combined with the release time has made “Utopia” ingebra-ble versus viewers’ daily reality, even though its roots are almost a decade old. Flynn based the show on Dennis Kelly’s episode titled “Utopia,” a BBC series with a similar premise last year including the outbreak.
Flynn knew there would be audiences who already liked Kelly’s original “Utopia” — and were thus predisposed not to like its (very different) remake — just as there would be new fans fully immersed in the twisty thriller. Reviews reveal a similar range : mixed reactions with marks on the upper and lower ends.
The response Flynn has seen is what I expected. I have always said that I like the things I create to create strong reactions and I’d always much prefer people who want to talk about it — whether it is positive or negative — than give a tepid, I liked it, and never think about it again
In other words, heroes of “Utopia” are ready to destroy dangerous vaccines — an idea that sounded far more disturbing now than it did in 2013 — an idea on its own.
Ashleigh LaThrop and Dan Byrd in the film “Utopia”
Elizabeth Morris / Amazon Studios
In reference to the anti-vaccination storyline, Flynn said: “Obviously I began writing that in 2013 and that part of the plot was always the plot; it was why we were doing it. So there was never a question of shifting it, but it was bizarre to see the anti-vax movement evolve from very fringe to increasingly mainstream in the course of those seven years.
Flynn said there were moments when she felt “a little sick to my stomach” worried that “Utopia” would expand the anti-vaxxer arguments. But the weird, surreal style of the show and the villainous character who portrays this position should not prevent anyone from taking it seriously.
“The show is ultimately about conspiracies and about what happens when fringe conspiracies get mainstream acceptance,” Flynn said. ‘It’s about where we are: we have turned science and truth to something which is opinionated, largely through social media newsfeeds – which is inaccurate. It doesn’t matter if your opinion is that “there is no such thing as gravity.
If you take your medical advice from John Cusack also, something goes horribly wrong in your life, she said.
Christie’s final monologue isn’t meant to be easily dismissed — not completely. Flynn said Christie’s diabolical plan doubles as “what is truly the thesis of the show”
“I wanted to explain why he was doing it: Humans multiply like bacteria, like a virus, and we are going to destroy the world,” she said, breaking Christie’s point of view down. If we continue along this path we’re going to have a world in which we might be able to live, but which is not really worth living in.”
She pointed to a line where Christie says that in order to survive a world like that, “we have to live selflessly and as you know, we’re not that good at it.” For anyone struggling to understand the controversy over masking or why the current administration restricts voting rights, no further explanation is required. Christie is right. Americans are particularly not good at living selflessly.
When he revealed this, I wanted half the audience to say: ‘What a villainous Bastard’ and the other half to kind of lean in and go out, ‘” Flynn said.
Elizabeth Morris / Amazon Studios.
With that in mind, Flynn says if Amazon picks up Season 2 of “Utopia” she is ready to face the pandemic storyline. In general, I like shows that go on and move ahead,” Flynn said. However, I don’t want the show to go on to have other goals other than dealing with the current pandemic [in season 2].
There are plenty of loose threads remaining to be sewn up: Grant (Javon “Wanna” Walton) has been arrested after being framed for murder. Becky (Ashleigh LaThrop) is picked up by Dr. Christie, who Wilson (Desmin Borges) frees after being convinced of the magic of science mission. And Jessica Hyde (Sasha Lane) is buried by her secret mother, Agent Katherine Milner (Sonja Sohn ) who also reveals that Jessica’s father is still alive. Only Dr. Stearns (Rainn Wilson) has an obvious link with the season 1 epidemic, as he’s on the run with the “mother egg” which keeps the last remnants of the virus.
Maybe Flynn’s approach will help distinguish “Utopia” further afield from its release events. Actions may be everywhere now, but there’s at least one endorsement Flynn cherishes: David Fincher. Back when he wanted to make the series for HBO, Fincher introduced Flynn to the project and encouraged her when that didn’t work out. Flynn confirmed that she’d shared it with her first director now that the first season was done.
He knew at least the first two without doubt, she said. I was told: “We talked about them. I can’t tell you how good that felt. He is the only reason I have the career I have. I love his views, I love his thoughts, and we still chat often.”
Season 1 of the TV series “Utopia” is now available on Amazon Prime. A decision on the second season has not yet been made.