How Westworld Reinvented TV

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Television is a constantly evolving beast that features mindless distractions but true gems underneath. Every decade there seems to be several shows that break barriers and those shows in the following decades break even more ground than the ones before it, all while the mindless distractions get more and more modern. It’s an interesting parallel to what’s been going on with the HBO hit-series “Westworld” where it’s premise and even it’s ongoing storylines seem to resemble Television.

In “Westworld” there are tons of avenues to branch out towards; tons of genres, tons of storylines, the whole works. One could only imagine the possibilities of “Westworld” to the point where watching the show during the first season allows you to formulate your own opinions, your own theories, your own viewpoints and one could make comparisons to what’s happening in the real world where we have “narratives” of our own; it’s called “scripting” where there’s a beginning and an end and a direction to lead you to the end. Every “script” has unexpected twists and turns but those are only distractions to throw you off to the expected ending, make you expect that there’s something different at work.

While “Westworld” may be a scripted series, it’s the most unexpected TV series in the history of entertainment and I’m saying that despite the first few episodes of “Westworld”. It’s reinventing TV by playing off the TV tropes that we know so well, making us believe that this is what they’re supposed to do when in actuality this isn’t what they’re supposed to do and there’s even the moment when they do something different altogether than what you expect. “Westworld” is claimed to be like a video game but here it’s like a riff on everything you believe in. Are our heroes even aware that they’re following a script? Are our characters even dynamic and multifaceted? These questions are what make the show what it is.

The idea of AI discovering themselves have long been science-fiction lore but the idea of them breaking apart from limited programming that makes them seem dynamic but makes them feel scripted is beyond science-fiction, it reaches into philosophical realities never even seen before on television. What makes a man; is it the habits that he has, the routine that he goes through or is there something more to it? These questions are what sets “Westworld” apart from other sci-fi and even other drama series.

J.J. Abrams is an executive producer on the show, he was also the one responsible for creating “Lost”, a show that would also claim to reinvent television. Let’s look back to 2004 when the show premiered, it was exhilarating in it’s cinematography, it’s mystery, it’s characters and it’s underlining themes; it’s first season was praised as many to be must see TV but fast forward to 2010 when the show had introduced DHARMA, sci-fi elements and tons of theoretical stuff. It was very close to becoming a TV classic but like many TV series, they just don’t know how to pick the right cards and deal the right hand. Lost started off as a series about the characters, became a show about the mythology and didn’t know how to resolve both of them so it became a mumbled mess of religious analysis, human thesis and a story that hasn’t held up to time.

It’s not just limited to “Lost”. “South Park’s” 20th season suffered from the same problems as many plot points were unexplored and unresolved and even in modern times it shows a problem that many shows do not know how to provide something consistent yet unexpected at the same time which is where “Westworld” comes in. “Westworld’s” first season has a warm-up period yes but it didn’t have a formula, it didn’t have any need to draw in the viewers nor did it feel a need to fit in to the mainstream. Many people theorized about what was really going on. Even I believed that William and the Man in Black were separate people at some point but as time went on and the show revealed itself, it made people take a look at what they thought and reanalyzed what was going on.

With “Westworld’s” first season concluded, it has already reinvented television. It’s not just another Nolan series, it’s not just another J.J. Abrams series; it’s something that makes you think, makes you the casual viewer open your eyes and I’m hoping that other new TV series will take the lead and provide us not just with a story to tell, but with a world to visualize and theorize about.


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