Great review of the show on Vogue.com. Three key takeaways from this review:
- Westworld has similarities to the Game of Thrones TV series in its treatment of female characters:
Simultaneously lauded for its nuanced roles, like fan favorite Brienne of Tarth and the polarizing Queen Cersei, and criticized for its reliance on nudity and rape as a plot device, Game of Thrones features female protagonists who provide the show its greatest moments and most of its most regrettable. Westworld follows suit by presenting compelling women and then subjecting them to scenarios that rob them of their dignity.
- Ironically, the hosts (the oppressed and manipulated in the universe of the show), are driving the storyline of the show, which subverts the human-vs-robot trope.
The idea of female androids designed for male pleasure is explored in everything from Blade Runner’s gynoids to The Stepford Wives, Scarlett Johansson’s disembodied OS in Her, and Alicia Vikander’s curious femme fatale in Ex Machina. In most instances, the creations rebel in some way, questioning the nature of their existence and their roles, much to the surprise of their flesh-and-blood creators. Westworld subverts the trope by making the android perspective the default. Scenes may cut away to the team pulling the strings, but their actions serve mainly to inform the choices of the hosts. It’s no longer a story of flawed androids vs. people; it’s a question of whose actions are more human.
- The underlying evil in the show - humans using and abusing the living, breathing, and emotionally capable "hosts" for their own pleasure - is more disturbing than any villainous character ... Lord of the Flies, anyone?
Though Harris provides a truly amoral villain in the Man in Black, whose hunt for the fabled Maze leads him toward acts of increasing depravity, the true source of evil in Westworld is the self-indulgence of its humans.
Both the visitors, who pay upward of $40,000 per day to immerse themselves in the park’s bespoke illusions, and the programmers display a blatant disregard for the feelings of the hosts. The apathy is to be expected—as we are frequently reminded, the hosts are not people—but that makes it no less jarring. The warped nature of the park desensitizes those engaged in its inner workings: Couples pose with the “dead” bodies of outlaws they’ve shot; higher-ups turn their backs on the sadistic actions of frequent guests; and the chance to kill, rape, and dismember without fear is billed as the ultimate luxury vacation.
What do you think?