Here in the UK the second season of a TV show called Utopia has just started airing again on Channel 4. It’s brilliant.
The soundtrack is brilliant, the cinematography is brilliant, the acting’s brilliant, the story is brilliant.
But what does the story focus on? What is Utopia about? (SOME SPOILERS AHEAD)
The Utopia Experiments is a legendary graphic novel shrouded in mystery. But when a small group of previously unconnected people find themselves in possession of an original manuscript, their lives suddenly and brutally implode.
Targeted swiftly and relentlessly by a murderous organisation known as The Network, the terrified group are left with only one option if they want to survive: they have to run.
As this small group are dragged deeper and deeper into this conspiracy it is revealed that The Network plans to use scare tactics to convince the world to take a vaccine for “Russian Flu” but what they don’t know is that actually the vaccine contains a virus known as Janus. The purpose of this virus? To save the human race.
How can a virus save the human race you may be wondering, it does so like this: it makes around 90% of the worlds population sterile, the remaining 10% will be left fertile.
Letts: We’ve now passed seven billion on this planet. When I was born, it was a little over two. Food prices rising, oil’s ending. When our resources end in twenty years, given everything that we know of our species, do you really think we’re going to just share?
Becky: So your answer to that is some kind of genocide?
Letts: No, it is not, it is not genocide. Our answer to this is Janus.
When the characters find out the true purpose of Janus they are horrified (as most people might be), they even go as far to call it genocide. But once the reason why The Network is planning to do this is out in the open it creates, for one character at least, a huge moral dilemma.
You see, when you think about it our world, planet Earth, actually only holds a finite amount of resources. There are 7 billion of us on this planet and growing, and we are draining it of its resources and as repayment we are pumping harmful chemicals back into the atmosphere, the atmosphere which we breathe. We are slowly killing our home.
So The Network plan to do this to slowly bring the population down, to get it to around 500 million and allow us to essentially start again.
Letts: Janus effects 90 to 95% of the population, leaving only one in twenty fertile. We predict population will plateau at 500 million in just under a hundred years. By then, normal breeding rates should resume, but on a planet that will feel empty.
Ian: You’re fucking insane!
Letts: To do nothing is insane. You accuse us of being genocidal? Not acting is genocide. Where do you think your food comes from, Ian? A third of the world’s farmland is now useless due to soil degradation. Yet we keep producing more mouths to feed. And what’s your answer to that? Energy-saving light bulbs?
Ian: But we’re doing things, we’re changing things.
Letts: You know the person who had the greatest positive impact on the environment on this planet? Genghis Khan, because he massacred forty million people. There was no one to farm the land. Forests grew back. Carbon was dragged out of the atmosphere. And had this monster not existed, there’d be another billion of us today, jostling for space on this dying planet. Yet Janus massacres no one. It’s without violence.
Wilson Wilson: This is why you did this to me, this is why you killed my father.
Letts: And there are a thousand other crimes on my conscience. But you know what I see, Wilson? A planet turned into a desert. A thousand million souls starving, dying. And we can stop this, with Janus.
This shows core concept and theme is very current, and I believe that is what makes the show so intriguing. In Utopia we see some pretty gruesome things, children being killed, children killing people, but there is this constant underlying moral battle between the characters and also the audience because in the end Letts is kind of right.
We’re destroying our planet, there is not doubt about that. But as Ian says “we’re doing things, we’re changing things” but will this be enough? Something more drastic like Janus could be what eventually saves our planet and as Letts points out, it isn’t genocide, not really no-one is being slaughtered, it just stops more people being born.
I would like to get others thoughts on this, vote on the poll and let me know who’s side you’re on.
Thanks for reading.