Westworld, A Glimpse Into the Future

Westworld is a compelling sci-fi show that brings awareness to the intricacies of human society. This captivating show aired in 2016 on HBO and made headlines for its controversial plotline and questionable ethics. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy—married in 2009—created Westworld. Nolan also worked on movies like Interstellar and The Dark Knight. This show stars notable actors including Evan Rachel Wood, Tessa Thompson, Ed Harris, and Luke Hemsworth to bring not only a diverse set of actors but also to create an inclusive environment. Westworld uses phenomenal acting to deliver a compelling message about power struggles, violence and the idea of artificial consciousness. 

Westworld originally takes place in the theme park Westworld. This park is where the rich can come for a vacation away from reality and become anything they want: a murderer, a hero, a villain, a sex addict, quite literally anything. Westworld is inhabited by robots—called hosts—that maintain the life that is programmed into them. Hosts are based on real people that bring about a conversation about what constitutes consciousness. Dolores, one of the main characters, opens up the first episode by saying, “I am in a dream,” setting up future episodes for an exploration of consciousness and comatose memories. 

One of the main themes in the show is the question of human nature and consciousness. What happens when the hosts become aware of their world and develop a stream of consciousness? What does this mean for the rest of the world? Can humans and AI coexist? Or will one outwit the other? How far is too far with AI technology? Westworld provides a spiraling path into the depths of what constitutes a human. 

Complex topics jump from one to the next effortlessly. Power structures are intimately examined on-screen, demanding the audience to stop and listen. For instance, Ed Harris who plays “The Man in Black” is a character who uses his white privilege to create a society that favors the rich. This is a consistent theme throughout all four seasons. The Man in Black does what he wants to the hosts that live in Westworld; this includes atrocious acts of violence that are not for the faint of heart. Onscreen violence opens a larger conversation about how we, as humans, are infatuated with violent acts. It is argued in Westworld that our human nature will naturally lead us to be enamored by violence: video games with kill counts, the insurgence of mass shootings, and the constant headline of violent acts. Westworld tackles desensitization through “The Man in Black” whose hunger for violence rivals the hosts’ want for peace through violence. 

Westworld is occasionally so twisting and mystifying it can be hard to comprehend. There are multiple plot lines so this is not the show for multitasking; even though, for the first two seasons, it feels as if the show is devoid of action and intricacies. Westworld is a show that takes time to develop yet leaves you on the edge of your seat. Nolan and Joy have created a complex plot that turns the wheels of humanity towards the multiplexes of the world.