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SYFY WIRE Mrs. Davis

'Mrs. Davis' writers created their own AI algorithm to come up with Peacock series' episode titles

Mrs. Davis debuts on Peacock Thursday, April 20.

By Josh Weiss
Betty Gilpin in Mrs. Davis

Mrs. Davis — the upcoming Peacock series from co-creators Tara Hernandez (The Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon) and Damon Lindelof (LostWatchmen) — is, in some regards, your classic sci-fi thriller about the dangers of rogue artificial intelligence and what happens when a sentient machine begins to think it's better than its human creators. The good news, however, is that the current state of AI is nowhere near the apocalyptic visions put to screen by James Cameron in 1984's The Terminator and its 1991 sequel.

Sitting down with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the show's premiere at SXSW this week, Lindelof admitted to feeling a modicum of apprehension regarding the project's core concept following the recent rise of chatbots. 

"We’ve wondered if it’s challenging our thesis now that you’re starting to see the first articles being written about how stupid it really is," he explained, clearly relieved. "If you ask [chatbots] to do anything outside the realm of what they’ve been programmed to do, they instantly reveal themselves to be idiots."

Hernandez, meanwhile, remains grateful that the likes of ChatGPT entered the cultural zeitgeist once all the scripts had already been turned in. Otherwise, "we wouldn’t have gotten anything done," she said.

RELATED: Meet the cast and creators of Peacock's sci-fi series 'Mrs. Davis'

Realizing they could rely on sentient software without bringing about the destruction of our species, the writers' room went so far as to whip up "their own rudimentary AI algorithm," whose sole purpose was to come up with the different episode titles. The program apparently dubbed itself "Larry Bel-Air." Don't ask us why, no one quite knows the reason. With that said, viewers can expect some pretty out-there titles that only a machine could think of. Episode 1, for instance, bears the name "Mother of Mercy: The Call of the Horse."

“Whether Mrs. Davis succeeds or fails, we’re super excited that like everybody is talking about artificial intelligence and whether or not it is intelligent, or whether it’s just telling us what we want to hear, and what we’re supposed to use it for,” Lindelof added. “This is a conversation that’s been going on for a long time, but it’s happening a lot right now – that, and shooting down weather balloons.”

"The most exciting thing about Mrs. Davis is that there’s nothing like Mrs. Davis," Hernandez teased.

Betty Gilpin (GLOW) leads the story as Simone, a no-nonsese nun hellbent on destroying the world's most powerful artificial intelligence. Jake McDorman (Limitless), Andy McQueen (Station Eleven), Ben Chaplin (The Nevers), Margo Martindale (Cocaine Bear), David Arquette (Scream), Elizabeth Marvel (Helstrom), Katja Herbers (Evil), Chris Diamantopoulos (The Twilight Zone), Ashley Romans (Y: The Last Man), Tom Wlaschiha (Stranger Things 4), and Mathilde Ollivier (1899) co-star.

Mrs. Davis will hold the world premiere of its first two episodes tomorrow — Tuesday March 14 — at the SXSW Film Festival. The rest of us faithful Peacock subscribers have to wait until Thursday, April 20 to feast our eyes on the season debut.

Looking for more sci-fi content? Check out shows like The Ark, Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic, and more streaming now on Peacock.