Amazon Prime’s ‘Upload’ is a science fiction comedy series created by Greg Daniels, who developed ‘The Office.’ On the outset, the show might seem to have a novel concept but is awfully similar to ‘The Good Place.‘ Yet, this similarity only proves to make the Amazon original’s task of impressing audiences harder since it is tasked with shedding comparisons and finding its own footing. The series stars Robbie Amell of ‘The Flash’ fame in the lead role. Apart from Amell, the rest of the cast members seem to be an impressive mix as well, with the likes of Andy Allo and Zainab Johnson.
‘Upload’ is set in the future, in a world where humans can “upload” themselves onto a paid virtual reality, after-life service following their death. A young man named Nathan (Amell) dies of a peculiar car crash and gets uploaded to the most premium afterlife service known as Lakeview, thanks to his rich and clingy girlfriend, Ingrid. However, Nathan starts to fall in love with his afterlife assistant (known as an “angel”) named Nora. However, things are trickier than dumping Ingrid and being with Nora for Nathan since Ingrid pays for his afterlife service.
Moreover, Nathan has lost an important memory related to his death. The lost memory is also related to the dream company that he was trying to get off the ground with his best friend. This company would have provided afterlife services for free. Hence, there is a chance that Nathan was killed by somebody powerful who wanted to continue making money from the extremely profitable afterlife industry.
The first thing that one ought to know about ‘Upload’ is that its premise of an afterlife is indeed quite similar to ‘The Good Place.’ Hence, viewers would subconsciously find themselves consistently thinking of the NBC show in the first few episodes of ‘Upload.’ However, the Amazon original manages to surprisingly find its own voice, presenting a consistently funny and engaging series.
To begin with, ‘Upload’ is not as deep or dense as ‘The Good Place.’ Instead, the show has a light tone, and that works out for it. It makes the Amazon original more sitcom-y and more laid-back. That is the reason it is billed as a satire. Greg Daniels’ command over comedy is easy to spot as there are multiple, genuinely laugh-out-loud moments in each episode.
The narrative is paced well and never becomes too heavy. ‘Upload’ seems to find the perfect balance between plot progression and situational humor. That makes it finely attuned to the modern notion of a comedy, which is increasingly moving away from the traditional notion of a sitcom where change (plot progression, character development, etc.) is sluggish.
While ‘Upload’ can be accused of borrowing from ‘The Good Place,’ it does have its moments of originality. For instance, the Amazon satire portrays the afterlife as a product of technological advancement and depicts some authentically mocking cracks on scientific development and capitalism. In fact, capitalism and wealth inequality is a major theme for the series and is one that is developed exceedingly well. Like most stories that criticize capitalism, ‘Upload’ also portrays it as the source of each and every conflict. However, it manages to do so in a rib-tickling manner.
Moreover, the acting of each and every cast member is seamless. Robbie Amell shines in his portrayal of a chiseled piece of eye candy with a depth of personality and character beyond his perfect body. Apart from him, the comedian, Zainab Johnson, has some of the most hilarious scenes, and she nails each and every one of them. Kevin Bigley, as Luke and Rhys Slack as Dylan prove to be quite funny as well.
The portrayal of a futuristic world is not without its flaws, however. For instance, there are several places where the CGI would have been better. But overall, the speculative future is written and developed well otherwise. It is quite believable apart from a few moments where the graphics feel theatrical. All in all, ‘Upload’ is all set to be one of the top comedies of the 2020s.
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