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Amazon Prime’s Upload Is An Adorable Mashup Of Idiocrasy And San Junipero

The Robbie Amell vehicle Upload found on Amazon Prime today is an attractive, heartfelt romp through a Capitalists nightmare.

The charming series directed by Jeffrey Blitz hides a biting commentary on the dangers of capitalism within a heart of cinnamon roll smelling fart jokes and rom-com sensibilities. If that’s not enough, there is even a mystery at the center of the whole thing. Upload is a quick binge with something for everyone.

Upload first presents as the cotton candy of sci-fi with its attractive leads from different walks of life and snippet of guilty pleasure 50 First Dates. Make no mistake; this is a science-fiction light series that is lightyears smarter than you think it is. A feel-good story many have compared to A Good Place, it has just as much in common with comedy Idiocrasy.

Nathan, a chiseled Robbie Amell(Code 8), is a coder and self-absorbed douchebag living in LA. He and his friend and business partner are working on a free program that would allow people to be uploaded into the cloud for free upon their death. People can be uploaded instead of dying in this future version of the world. Similar to Black Mirror’s San Junipero, you can choose to be with loved ones forever. They can interact with you in your digital world via VirtualReality or talk to you on the hand phone. In effect you become transcendent and loved ones never have to leave each other.

If you have the money to pay for it, you can live out the rest of your digital days in a number of vacation settings. Everything from Panera Bread/ Facebook Vegas-style collabs and beach resorts is possible. A self-driving car calamity leaves Nathan near death, with only one choice upload or die.

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After a jarring but hilarious beheading, he finds himself in Lakeside an afterlife for the celebration of natural Americana. Similar to in-app purchases for Fortnite, you can do basic things for free(after your monthly fee, of course), but anything else is extra. Want a spa treatment, a beer, a special snack, upgrades? It’s all possible for a price. If you can’t afford to pay for a lot of data, you are digitally throttled in a hellish, no man’s land of missing genitalia and book teases.

This is a future reality where we all don’t just think Alexa is listening to everything, she outright admits it. To make matters worse, she tells us it’s for our own good. Even the most intimate of personal details are not private. Don’t try to purchase the wrong sized condom because there will be a loud announcement over the intercom for all to hear at Bloomingdales which has bizarrely become a grocery store. Everything has become increasingly invasive. Nothing is private anymore and few rights are protected. We gave up those rights for electronic advancement and product procurement.

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It’s not just an indictment on corporate greed either. The exploration of the philosophical morality of uploading versus Heaven becomes central. Nora, played by the cute and likable Andy Allo(Chicago Fire), is losing her father to Vape Lung. She wants him to be uploaded to Lakeside, where she works as an Angel. Angel’s are concierges of sorts who double as client tech and consumer support. Her father wants to meet her mother in Heaven. He is a profoundly spiritual man who believes she is waiting for him, having died years before. Nora is one of the few that still craves real connections.

What is consciousness? What makes a person? Is a physical body necessary for a soul? All these questions get novel answers. Upload isn’t preachy or heavy-handed, just funny and slick, similar to the program Nathan resides in. Sometimes messy and flawed, but always enjoyable. Dogs who talk, act as pet therapists, Russian hackers who trick young boys into a gender-swapping upgrade, and dating apps that allow matches to rate each other’s sexual prowess are all part of this world. It’s not attractive but not entirely unrealistic, either.

The series is held together by a handful of outstanding performances. Amell and Allo have great chemistry, but the real gems are war vet Luke(Kevin Bigley), fellow Lakeview employee Aleesha(Zainab Johnson), and girlfriend Ingrid(Allegra Edwards). Luke is the snarky voice of both reason and insanity. He is that one friend who both gets you into the most trouble but also knows how to get you out of it.

Ingrid is so overtly entitled when she does something decent, she instantly looks sensitive. She isn’t wholly terrible either, which is the rub. Ingrid is more a product of her upbringing than she is responsible for her own actions. She was coded as much as Lakeside. Her coding is just behavioral instead of digital. Aleesha is Nora’s friend and fellow Angel. She is the comedic sidekick in this absurd clown car.

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A couple of quirky characters add interest. Frumpy and odd Fran(Elizabeth Bowen), a self-styled private detective, doesn’t believe Nathan’s death was an accident. Her investigation makes for some of the more hilarious moments. While Dylan(Rhys Slack) is a tender mix of irritating pre-adolescent and frustrated soul stuck in a child’s body. They both add something special to the cast.

The mystery at the heart of this eccentric series gets a small amount of resolution at the end that still leaves plenty of room for additional seasons. Amazon has ordered season two, but with the pandemic, everything is on hold. Likely we will not see it until 2021.

The easy to binge series is a quick watch. You can blow through it in a day without missing a meal. Don’t overthink it, Upload isn’t serious storytelling but fun entertainment. If you get hungry while watching Nora pimp Taco Bell’s Gordita Taco Crunch order some from GrubHub. While doing it reassure yourself Taco Bell hasn’t won the restaurant wars like in Demolition Man and you can’t live your digital best life as in San Junipero. There’s still time to subvert the corporate shills and avoid being permanently downloaded. Just make sure you don’t talk around Siri.