solos

Shows like Netflix's "Black Mirror" struck a chord of fear about the new-age technological world. Its release in 2011 sparked the idea of what technology could become in the future and how it could affect the masses. Amazon's new series "Solos" explores that idea through the lens of seven different stories. With a cast of no more than two actors per episode, a cavalcade of talent is given a chance to navigate some heightened drama. On paper, it's an interesting idea but works better in some cases compared to others. In seven 20-30 minute episodes, the concept is definitely better than the execution.

The cast includes actors varying from Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Mackie, Dan Stevens and Helen Mirren to name a few. Getting a chance to see a talented group of actors flex their acting chops was admittedly a fun watch. The problem is that there's no real substance on display here. These solo stories feel like nothing more than a showcase for these actors to express their talent. Anne Hathaway opens the series in episode one, and while she's great, her story goes for empty emotion. This is an arguable throughline throughout the series since each of these characters is going through a trauma. There's a serious repetitiveness on display that holds the series back from being great.

Besides just straight drama, the show also flirts with the ideas of the horrors technology can bring. In episode six with Nicole Beharie, we take a dip into the world of artificial insemination, which becomes something horrific. While it is interesting, there's never quite enough follow-through for the episode's terrifying point to hit home. The best of the bunch for me would have to be a tie between episodes two and seven. Episode two involves Anthony Mackie, playing against himself, as two different versions of the same character. Episode seven stars both Morgan Freeman and Dan Stevens as characters with a rather deep emotional past. This was easily what I consider to be the best episode of the season. 

When the show is going for real drama, it manages to land with some really impactful and substantive material. These two episodes have an emotional and satisfying payoff that made me realize the show's point. The point was to showcase the theme of "human connection" through the means of technology. Those ideas are told most simply and blandly as possible in the other five episodes, which is rather frustrating since certain episodes hit as hard emotionally as they can. Throughout the seven episodes, it only feels like the surface is being scratched to the riper emotions. Riper emotions are what made the show stand out to me so much more as a whole.

It's quite easy to see how the cast of "Solos" was attracted to the material. In translation, that material feels too written to be entirely memorable. We have such a great cast being used here that it's rather frustrating the material isn't up to their standards. There are flourishes in certain episodes that show the potential this material had. Episodes two and six are so moving that they made me yearn for what could've been. If you're in the mode for something rather experimental, this one is definitely going to scratch that itch. Though there's plenty of fun to be had watching the cast act, the end result just left me feeling rather cold, which is rather frustrating when certain moments are as effective as they wind up being.

Rating: 5/10

Watch The Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbIAIE8BBHE

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