Lexiophiles’ TGIFilm Selection No. 214: Robots, Social Issues and Nordic Forests

Friday is here! And another movie to put on your list to watch on one of your relaxing weekends.
For this week’s Friday Film tip, I want to tell you about a production that has it all—sci-fi robots, love stories, ethical dilemmas and everyday household arguments. Real Humans is a TV series from 2012 that airs on the Swedish Public Service channel SVT 1. The second season is promised to start this fall, and in the meantime, rights to broadcast season 1 has been sold to over 50 countries. It seems I am not the only one who thinks this might just be the best Sweden’s made since Bergman.

Real Humans is set in an alternative present time, where hyper-realistic robots are being mass-produced and put to work, not only in factories and dirty jobs, but in households across the world. Hubots, as they are called, deal with everything from grocery shopping to bedtime stories. Naturally, their invasion of the spaces that we tend to think of as exclusively human does not sit well with all of society. Though as anti-robot lobby groups gain popular support, other people begin to see hubots as a kind of individuals, with needs and rights of their own.

The show draws unsettling parallels between the hubots’ situation and that of other oppressed groups in society—the labor force, immigrants, and sexual minorities. One of my favorite subplots deals with a teenage boy who is troubled by the feelings he is developing for the household hubot. His father sends him to therapy, and a moving scene takes place between the two of them in the car after the first session, when the boy comes out as “hubophile” to his dad.

Though such deeper questions are a key feature of Real Humans, the show’s plot is carried forward on a wave of hard action. Hubots and people alike are the victims and perpetrators of violence and attacks, which intensify along with the tension in society. While some make their way through the deep Swedish forests on quests to save their skin, others are held hostage in underground hubot sex clubs and chop shops.

I for one can’t wait for the second season to air. In the meantime, I can use YouTube to keep my language skills up to date by watching dubbed versions of season 1 (check out the French and German versions for example).

And of course, as with any great European production, the will be an American remake.

Wish all of you an awesome weekend!

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