A reader wants to know: What’s your favorite dystopian drama right now?

There are so many to choose from, but our TV critic knows what he likes

A scene from BBC's "Black Mirror" on Netflix.
A scene from BBC's "Black Mirror" on Netflix.Courtesy of Netflix

Q. There are so many dystopian dramas on TV right now. “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Westworld,” “Brave New World,” “The Walking Dead.” Which is your favorite?


A. That’s a hard question, because there are many good ones. And given the state of the world, they all feel scarier and more possible than ever. I’m hoping the future will look back on this moment and say, “Look at these shows about how scared people were about what was to come, and it was all for no reason!”

A scene from "The Handmaid's Tale."
A scene from "The Handmaid's Tale."Hulu

I love Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and it certainly lands in my top 10 dystopian visions. The show is beautifully acted, powerfully shot, and, thanks to Margaret Atwood, vividly imagined. My problem with it has to do with the ongoing storyline, which has been stretched thinner with each new season. Within the world that’s set up so effectively on the show, our heroine would be long gone by now, a body dangling from a noose in Fenway Park. But in order to keep the show on the air, it seems, the writers keep her alive and able to continue to cause rebellion. I’ll watch until the end, but I do hope that end comes sooner rather than later.

Thandie Newton in "Westworld."
Thandie Newton in "Westworld." John P. Johnson

I do not love HBO’s “Westworld,” which is a lushly filmed drama whose stories and messages are so overly complex and theoretical that I fail to care about them. The cast is great, but I don’t feel anything about any of the characters.


At this moment, I’m going to say that Netflix’s “Black Mirror” is my favorite. It’s the “Twilight Zone” for this moment, unlike the reboot of “The Twilight Zone” on CBS All Access, which has been surprisingly ordinary given the presence of executive producer Jordan Peele. Charlie Brooker’s anthology series focuses in on the dark side of technology, what familiar things like social media and virtual reality could look like in a few years without any moral guidance. Each episode is distinct from the next, as the tech themes reach into political satire, war stories, hostage situations, and the world of dating. Some are better than others, certainly. But all together they form a brilliant, provocative, faceted nightmare.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.