Peacock has launched and one of its biggest attractions is the splashy series adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. Developed by David Wiener, the show depicts a utopian society, where the privileged live in luxury in a hedonistic world devoid of “monogamy, privacy, money, family, and history itself,” enjoying “instant gratification and ubiquitous sex.” This lifestyle is partially made real by the designer drug Soma
This peace is threatened when two citizens of New London, Bernard Marx (Harry Lloyd) and Lenina Crowne (Jessica Brown Findlay) venture outside into the “Savage Lands.” Unfortunately, these two soon find themselves in over their heads. They are saved by John the Savage (Alden Ehrenreich), who then accompanies them back to New London.
Huxley’s book came out in 1931 and Dystopian fiction has never faded from popularity. In recent years, in particular, there has been a massive boom in the subject from YA hits (‘The Hunger Games’, ‘The Maze Runner’) to award-winning gold (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’) to zombies zombies zombies (‘The Walking Dead’, ‘Zombieland’).
It’s this fiction that perhaps prepared us for the Dystopia we’re living in now. The cast might have been excited to film ‘Brave New World’, but they never expected it to so closely reflect the real world.
As Lloyd explained:
“In a way, as soon as we finished filming, the world fell apart. So the conditions in which it’s being released, are very different to the conditions it was being made in. But in some ways, yeah, you need to have a glimpse of a society that’s, at least, outwardly, super happy. Would that be very annoying in this time? Or actually would have been a nice distraction? The fact is that it is a society that is not happy ultimately, because it’s not free. And the relationship between those two concepts is definitely, I think, one of the central themes for our show.
“At a time when our freedoms were definitely curtailed, to a certain extent, for all sorts of different reasons this year, it’s an interesting question to ask. And there have been times, I’m sure, when you’d happily take a summer and snap out and just look the other way. I think it’s an interesting story to be part of last year, actually, in talking still about the things that were happening then, and finding relevant aspects of it. Because when Huxley wrote it in 1932, he had no idea what would be happening in the rest of the 20th century. And yet, he predicted this society that would be in constant need of distraction and wouldn’t be able to handle anxiety and to avoid conflict. And I don’t quite know how he did that.”
Kylie Bunbury plays Lenina’s best friend Frankie Crowne. She added:
“Yeah. It’s a little on the nose, isn’t it? Yeah, it was really interesting because there’s so many parallels. I guess in some ways it was nice to escape our version and go into a different version, if that makes any sense. Because it’s not like this other version in New London is any better, but at least there were cool outfits and cool parties and some Somas and stuff.”
Hannah John Kamen plays hedonistic artist, Wilhelmina “Helm” Watson. She states:
“I’ve done a lot of dystopian. I’ve done a lot of sci-fi myself. It is always, always mirroring the real world and kind of quite scarily now. And I think, it was just amazing because I already read the book such a long time ago and to be part of this New London world where everything’s perfect, everything’s pharmaceutical now, everything, there’s no such thing as privacy. There’s no such thing as currency and money and it’s scary. It’s appealing. It’s the world we live in. It’s mad.”
Finally, series lead, Ehrenreich stated:
“What I hope for the series is that it’s able to hold a mirror up to some of the events or rising tides or currents that have been moving through our world in these intense ways, and give us a chance to think about them differently, have more perspective on them. The show really tackles these huge, broad, conceptual, philosophical questions, and yet at the same time, it’s all rooted in the messiness and the complication and the human emotional fear and angst and pain and love and joy. I think it’s hopefully a lens through which we can look through what’s going on in a very human way.”
Intrigued? The first season of ‘Brave New World’ is now streaming on Peacock.