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Utopia (series) * Dennis Kelly (2013)

I was looking for new series and ran into IMDb’s highest rated series list. Utopia is good for an 8.5. The series seem to be ended (I find running series often vastly overrated) and there are only two seasons (I am no fond of many-season-series). The box promises “[…] a riotous fusion of Twin Peaks, No Country For Old Men and The Killing”. That is bound to be untrue, but I got myself the two season box anyway.

The two seasons tell a continuous story (and has a end that would make a step to a new season very easy), but on the other hand, they tell two stories as well. We start following a few internet geeks who stumble upon a big conspiracy surrounding a “graphic novel”. They meet up and set out to find the book that will answer all their questions. In doing so, Becky, Ian, Wilson and Grant run in something much bigger than they anticipated. Followed by two cold blooded killers and finding the person that everybody seems to be after, “Utopia” develops into a descent thriller series with thick Welsh accents, black humour, extreme and bloody violence. They find their “graphic novel” and loose it again.
Season two starts with some ‘prequel’ scenes, but quickly jumps a bit ahead in time when the issue that seemed to be solved in season one, pops up again, but worse than ever. The characters are shuffled around a bit making season two another nice watch.

I can understand the reference to No Country For Old Men, but I do not know The Killing, but Twin Peaks?? Or “a brain-bender of a show”? That is a bit too much credit in my opinion and both references seem to imply that Utopia is somehow strange or ‘difficult’, but in comparison to modern cinema and especially in comparison to Twin Peaks that is not really the case. I think the series are better compared to some work of Quentin Tarantino or (indeed) the Coen brothers, especially because of the suddent and very violent outbursts, icecold characters and weird dialogues. There is also some funny camera work and (as the box suggests) nice use of colours, probably to give the series a bit of a ‘comic-feeling’.
The series do have a very, very heavy message. The conspiracy is certainly not one of the corny ‘good vs bad’ plots in which you do not have to think whose side you are on. This may perhaps be the best part of the series.

I might not find Utopia brilliant and the 8.5 on IMDb is a bit overrated, but not that much really. I would still give it something just below 8.0 which is really not bad for a contemporary series and higher than I rated Fargo actually, which I also liked.

(Note, in 2020 an American remake was made.)

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