Humans Series 1 Review

Humans DVD packshot
Title: Humans
Genre: Sci-fi/Drama
Starring: Gemma Chan,
Katherine Parkinson,
Tom Goodman-Hill,
Neil Maskell
Certificate: UK: 15
Audio Format: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English
Runtime: 8 Episodes,
8 Hours 00 mins
Studio: Channel 4 DVD
Release Date: UK: Aug 17 2015

Fans of E4’s hugely successful Utopia were left distraught when it was announced that the show would not be returning for a third series, wondering just what the channel could have to offer them in its place. Utopia was arguably their best programme so many were wondering if they could emulate that quality elsewhere. Step forward Humans.

Humans is an artificial intelligence based sci-fi series with a difference.  A transatlantic production the show has proven to be hit in both America and England, and having just finished the first season it is easy to see why. The set up is basic enough for an AI themed drama. The Hawkins are a normal British family who live in the not too distant future who happen to also own a ‘synth.’

Synths are synthetic humans who have been designed to complete human work and help us in our day to day live, except as is the case in this sub genre, they have grown more intelligent than people initially imagined- building relationships with humans and also behaving in ways which are prohibited.

The series’ first few episodes are basic but efficient, introducing us to the characters and allowing us to understand the family dynamic at its center. Whilst this may feel like it is going through the motions it does a brilliant job of building tension and it excels itself above the usual AI stuff by exploring their relationships with humans in much more detail. Something that the time restrictions of film, for example, don’t tend to allow.


It is when the show breaks away from the family narrative and chooses to focus on some of its other stories that it is at its finest though. The complex history of Synth creation makes for some interesting narrative turns and the introduction of John Hurt really puts the icing on the cake. Hurt plays a widowed AI creator called Dr George Milligan who has a rather poignant relationship with his outdated synth, Obi, who previously looked after him.

Whilst Hurt’s presence in the show clearly exists to make the show more marketable in the states, his presence fits the show perfectly. Humans addresses some very global fears, a technophobia that we can all relate to, whilst there are also some obvious political themes running through the show, though they are all handled subtlety and the show rarely feels heavy handed.

The show is also very efficiently paced, picking up tension superbly before hitting its home run in the series finale, which is one of the satisfying conclusions to a series in recent memory, managing to leave fans wanting more but also setting up the second season without feeling too contrived or rush.

Ambitious, multi layered and very well produced Humans is one of the best TV shows of 2015 so far and deserves all the success it has been given thus far.


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