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SYFY WIRE reviews

Brave New World reviews hail Peacock original series' take on dystopia

By Josh Weiss
Brave New World

Like George Orwell's 1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is a seminal piece of dystopian fiction. Rather than depict a society stifled under the pressure of authoritarianism, Huxley presented a utopian-ish world so zonked out and sexed-up, that it didn't need to think about straying from the accepted norm.

But does that premise properly translate into the television adaptation coming to Peacock?

According to the first reviews, Brave New World (premiering with NBC's streaming service July 15) is an audacious piece of entertainment that refines its source material for maximum relevancy. Indeed, the show is drawing comparisons to Andrew Niccol's Gattaca and HBO's Westworld, two projects that almost certainly derived aspects of their rather bleak futures from Huxley's 1932 novel.

Critics are particularly gravitating towards the series' aesthetic (that quietly draws the viewer into "the beautiful, but vacant society") and its leads played by Jessica Brown Findlay, Harry Lloyd, Alden Ehrenreich, Hannah John-Kamen, and Demi Moore.

Showrun by David Wiener (Homecoming), Brave New World is about Bernard Marx (Lloyd) and Lenina Crowne (Brown Findlay), a pair of New Londoners who meet John the Savage (Ehrenreich) during a vacation to the Savage Lands. John comes back to New London with them and threatens to disrupt the lethargic peace that exists in this sedated future.

Pop some soma and see what critics are saying below...

"As in many sci-fi shows, the production design does a lot of the heavy lifting, subtly immersing you in the beautiful, but vacant society. The understated yet striking aesthetic is reminiscent of Gattaca, a movie clearly inspired by Brave New World's genetics anxiety that also used vaguely retro-futuristic design to make its sci-fi predictions feel both timely and timeless." -Richard Trenholm, CNET

"Brave New World finds relevance almost a hundred years after its publishing in an adaptation deserving of its stature. It is engaging and provoking thanks to its rich source material, lively performances, and smart decisions about plotting, world-building, and art direction. That it has done away with Huxley's problematic aspects and raises modern questions about the loss of intimacy and consent allows Brave New World to enter 2020 as daring as ever." -Eric Francisco, Inverse

"The absence of allegory makes Brave New World feel purposeless. It could have taken a greater thematic rather than just visual cue from Black Mirror and made the show's shiny happy panopticon and pressure to conform explicitly about social media, or played up the class conflict angle more, but it didn't." -Liam Mathews, TV Guide

"Brown Findlay and Lloyd are perfectly cast as Lenina and Bernard, honoring the integrity of the characters' source material while also providing so much more nuance. Once Ehrenreich's John officially enters the series, the trio becomes electrifying to watch in essentially any context. Ehrenreich, in particular, turns John into a soulful and mesmerizing leading man, further proving that (even after the online vitriol he initially endured for Solo: A Star Wars Story) he deserves to be in whatever franchise he wants." -Jenna Anderson,

"This series has all of the hallmarks of a prestigious BBC or Sky production, especially with the primarily British cast. Both Jessica Brown Findlay and Harry Lloyd are solid in their roles, especially Findlay who gets to shine in a substantial role. Demi Moore is also excellent in one of the best performances I have seen from her in quite some time. The only performance here that is underwhelming is Alden Ehrenreich. I was excited to see him after enjoying his turns in both Solo: A Star Wars Story as well as Hail, Caesar! but he just doesn't fit in this series." -Alex Maidy,

"Both Ehrenreich’s and Brown Findlay’s characters exist in the book, but their stories are action-movie amped-up and surrounded with indulgent, goofy depictions of future sex that seem eventually to serve no purpose greater than titillation. No wonder the actors seem exhausted; their project, deep into its first season, doesn’t know what kind of show it wants to be." -Daniel D'Addario, Variety

Peacock and SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal