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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Solos is a sci-fi exploration of the meaning of life and connection. Told in seven parts, diverse characters grapple with challenges of isolation, loss of memory, grief, illness, and betrayal. Creator David Weil (Hunters) has assembled high-voltage actors (Anne Hathaway, Anthony Mackie, Constance Wu, Nicole Beharie, Emmy Award winner Uzo Aduba, Academy Award winners Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman, Dan Stevens) to perform extended monologues about their lives, which have been influenced by futuristic technology. Extreme weather and references to social unrest create a dystopian mood. Intense situations include a woman who is trapped in a home for 20 years after a pandemic has changed living conditions in society. Spoiler alert: In one episode a pregnant woman is treated with chemicals and technology for a "better pregnancy," but the child that is born ages rapidly, has violent tendencies, and because he's the product of a malfunction, she is asked by her doctor to do away with the child (she does not). AI is ubiquitous and humanized in situations. Language can be intense (frequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "a--hole"). Positive messages include connecting with your loved ones; redemption and forgiveness; we are not alone, even when we are isolated; and do things on your own terms.
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What's the Story?
SOLOS is an anthology series of seven separate stories that connect to each other in surprising ways. They all involve technology, AI, or futuristic themes. Some episodes focus on emotional and philosophical issues, a couple episodes are thematically intense, and all of them ask whether we are trapped or freed by technology. A diverse cast of veteran actors delivers narratives that intertwine in subtle ways. In an episode starring Helen Mirren (The Queen, Monsters University), a 70-something woman has answered an ad to explore the outer reaches of space. Anne Hathaway (The Witches, Alice in Wonderland) explores time travel in her mother's basement. Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby, Batman Begins) suffers from memory loss until a strange visitor played by Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) shows him how his life has affected others. Some episodes are frightening, some are inspiring, some are humorous. But they all seek to explore the use of technology, and how we are connected with others, even when we are alone.
Is It Any Good?
Visually grand and often compelling, the seven episodes of this series vary in quality. Deep questions about technology and the nature of life are given the schmaltz treatment in a couple of episodes; other episodes effectively answer hard questions. Is Solos timely? Yes. Is it well-written? It depends. Helen Mirren gives an absolutely beautiful, life-affirming performance as an elderly woman named Peg who's reflecting on her life. Anne Hathaway as Leah screechily struggles with her future self in a profanity-laced effort to get to the bottom of a deeply emotional commitment. In an episode that wavers between believability and absurdity, Uzo Aduba as Sasha totally owns the virtual world she's trapped inside of. Morgan Freeman struggles to give a spritely performance as a man with dementia named Stuart, but he's hamstrung by a lackluster script. The episodes have plots and characters in common, but they don't feel entirely cohesive.
Teens will like the exciting and immersive scenarios that show AI enveloping lives irrevocably. One episode in particular explores a very macabre theme of an engineered birth gone wrong, but do expect some happy outcomes. A couple tear-jerker moments surprise, too. Ultimately, adults might be left wanting a little more complexity behind the philosophizing, but the questions are good, and there are memorable performances to enjoy.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about technology and its influence on the characters in Solos -- AI is everywhere. How much does technology influence your life? Can you really shut it off?
The stories in this series look at the consequences of choices in a life. Which other shows show consequences of behavior? Why is that important?
Some of the stories in Solos show people completely immersed in technology, so much so that they don't know what is "real" anymore. How much interaction with technology is too much? Can you get addicted to technology?
- Premiere date: May 21, 2021
- Cast: Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Anthony Mackie, Dan Stevens, Constance Wu, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Beharie
- Network: Amazon Prime Video
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Friendship, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- TV rating: TV-MA
- Last updated: February 28, 2022
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