Humans on Channel 4

Tomorrow, a new drama series called Humans begins on Channel 4. It looks like a drama that is based on science-fiction, exploring the relationship between man and machine. Humans appears to be based on an award-winning Swedish sci-fi drama called Real Humans.

Whilst it is not the typical kind of Channel 4 drama that catches my attention, I have been drawn to this programme and intend on watching it (the first episode at least) due to the channel’s clever and intriguing marketing strategies.

The first I heard of this programme was through confusion. The following teaser was broadcast during advertising breaks:

The first few times I saw this, I didn’t see the Channel 4 ‘Coming Soon’ ident after it and was completely and utterly confused. I couldn’t work out what the advert was for. I guessed we aren’t that advanced in robotics and creating entire artificial beings to create “people” but then couldn’t work out what the advert was selling or what it was for – I thought there must be a motive behind it, a clever way of marketing something without making it clear. The synthetic was given a brand ‘Persona Synthetics’  and advertised as if it were a product rather than a television programme.

Eventually I caught on that it was advertising a television programme and not a product thanks to a more visible Channel 4 brand presence. I then began to think more about what was being represented in the advert. The synthetic acts as a household servant, an assistant for the parents and family. Interestingly, the synthetic in this particular teaser is a woman and this position as a servant in a domestic nuclear family setting is also filled by a female synthetic in the more comprehensive full programme trailer. I’m not sure whether this is reinforcing gender stereotypes of a woman as a housewife, taking control of all the chores such as cooking, cleaning and caring for children or if I am looking into this a bit too closely. Additionally, the synthetic seems to have more of a relationship or at least interaction with the father which is echoed in the full trailer as the husband/father purchases the female synthetic whereas the wife is more reluctant.

Here is the full trailer:

I think the drama will further explore notions of the future of technology, its impact and the relationship of man and machine in a slightly dystopian way as already successfully initiated by dark yet satirical drama Black Mirror. Creating an artificial life and discovering the emotional relationship between human and ‘the other’ has already been done in varying ways in Black Mirror. I think it is also similar as it appears to be set in a contemporary period meant to be like the present day or near future. This raises questions about how technology is advancing and whether we are a society that believes in technological determinism over cultural determinism. The theme of technology in Black Mirror and as I predict in Humans is effective in intriguing the audience because of the familiarity of the setting combined with an alien prospect.




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