As a hefty chunk of humanity has been locked up with not much to do, streaming services have been steadily churning out material to entertain everyone that’s sheltering in place. Of course, the biggest splash was made by Netflix’s trashy docuseries ‘The Tiger King’, but if you need to wash that grime off your brain, Amazon has delivered a true delight– ‘Upload’, the latest project from Greg Daniels, co-creator of the American version of ‘The Office’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’. Interestingly, Daniels co-created those shows with Michael Schur, whose first post-‘Parks & Rec’ project was the NBC afterlife sitcom ‘The Good Place’. Now Daniels has also crafted a comedy that explores what happens after a person dies.
However, ‘Upload’ is set in the year 2033 and hinges on a technology that allows a person’s psyche to be uploaded into a “heaven” of their choosing, essentially an eternal cushy MMORPG (complete with in-app purchases and pop-up ads). ‘Upload’ has gotten excellent reviews and online buzz has been building since the show was released last week.
Robbie Amell stars as Nathan Brown, an aspiring tech entrepreneur who is mortally wounded in an accident in his self-driving car. To “save” him, his girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards) has him uploaded to the digital country club called Lake View. Nathan’s guide in the afterlife is his “Angel” Nora Antony (Andy Allo), a minimum wage cog toiling for the conglomerate that owns Lake View. With Nora’s guidance, and his growing friendships with fellow residents, not to mention continued interaction with Ingrid and his family– the deceased are able to stay in contact via cell phones and other methods– Nathan evolves from an entitled jerk into the man he never was on Earth.
However, underneath all the touchy-feely sentiments, ‘Upload’ also contains a darker subplot. Self-driving cars simply do not wreck. Nathan was killed. But due to damaged memory files, no one, including the viewer knows why… at least not at first.
Even though ‘Upload’ is a charming comedy, there are more somber elements, and at the end of Season 1, Nathan finds himself seemingly stranded outside of the comfort of Lake View.
As Daniels explained:
“I mean, I want there to be a Season 2, and I want people to be thinking about what is going to happen in Season 2. So there’s aspects of it that are quite unresolved at the end of Season 1.
“I think that there’s a lot of optimism in the show. The characters are struggling to kind of bring this technology to everybody, to make the technology more fair, and to resist some of the evil characters. And so for any kind of story where there is a bunch of conflict…like, Voldemort is still alive at the end of the first Harry Potter, you know what I mean? [Laughs.] So I don’t know, that’s how I was thinking, I guess.”
Amell also offered his take on the ending, stating:
“I think it’s beautiful and it’s sad at the same time. Nora and Nathan can finally tell each other how they feel, and Nathan’s frozen at the end. It’s so, like, only Greg Daniels can hit you with that at the end of a comedy. And, you know, I think that they both know that there’s still that thing there, but at the same time, she’s got to look out for herself and take care of herself and survive. Everything gets really dangerous at the end. And then here comes Ingrid to upload into the 2GB. It’s such a great button on the season, and now he’s stuck with her again.”
“I mean, I was kind of mad because I was like, man, Nathan got her into this mess, and now he’s gonna leave her hanging. It’s like ‘Hello, hello…’ . . . So it gives you a good cliffhanger where you get all the feels and the emotions, which I liked, but it also doesn’t solve everything. I was really happy that they didn’t kind of tie everything up in a bow, which gives you so much more to build upon and explore later on.”
Amazon has not officially ordered a second season of ‘Upload’, but it has gotten great reviews, and word-of-mouth is spreading, so a renewal is likely to come along soon.
If you haven’t watched it yet, this is how I rank Amazon’s ‘Upload’:
UPDATE: Amazon has since renewed ‘Upload’ for a second season.