The sci-fi genre came into prominence with films released as early as 1927 by Fritz Lang known as Metropolis’ advent. A typical sci-fi film or series includes elements of time travel, cyberpunk-noir, dystopian or futuristic settings, robot wars, technological invasion, mind control, telekinesis, time warp, inter-dimensional connect and more. Fascinating and intriguing, these films simulate reality where people might often emerge from the sensation to think it was all a dream yet fear the apocalyptic invasion of zombies and aliens.
While 2020 witnessed a deadly outbreak of the pandemic which is still going strong makes us wonder whether we are living in a sci-fi verse that is a culmination of horror, fantasy and every other genre under the sun. Netflix has enough sci-fi films to rob us of our sleep, but there are certain good sci-fi series as well that are worth watching. The interface between the real and the absurd is what makes these films and series special.
Here are the 10 sci-fi series all fans need to watch while they are streaming on Netflix.
A deadly and infectious biological agent known as a prion has caused a vicious outbreak that turns humans into vampires. The prion has been released from the ice which melted due to climate change. With a constant conflict between the vampires and the government, it is documented via the eyes of Dr Luther Swann and his friend Michael Fayne which also shows an impending war between vampires and humans.
Starring Ian Somerhalder, it is ironic to see the once dashing Damon on Vampire Diaries be human for a change. He tries to find a solution for his best friend Fayne who has been transformed into a deadly predator due to the outbreak. The series is thrilling as a whole and some moments shall confuse the heck out of the viewers; however, for Somerhalder fangirls, it is a must-watch.
“The man you knew is gone.”
The town of Bridgeville in Maine is suddenly enveloped by an unexplained mist which creates an opaque cover, preventing visibility. Learning that venturing out into the mist might lead to deaths, the people are trapped in the church, shopping mall or hospital. Suddenly, they start seeing the ghosts of their pasts, from fears to anxiety to guilt and trauma which either help or kill them depending on their reactions to the problem.
The series itself absorbs audience attention in the atmospheric horror but the lack of clarity makes it seem as if the characters are embroiled in the mist themselves. Bleak and sadistic, the viewers might find themselves trying to run from the precarious and deadly mist that takes away a lot from the people of the town. However, the magic created by Stephen King’s novella of the same name is lost and the audience can also find themselves, at times, rooting for the main antagonist of the show the mist, to win.
“Nothing in nature is that even; man is the inventor of straight edges.”
Full of suspense as well as danger, this new series focuses on the preparations undertaken by various individuals and the effect on their lives when they find out that a newly discovered asteroid shall hit the earth’s surface in a matter of just six months. As they take several methods to prevent it and save the earth from inevitable destruction, the series captures several reactions.
Although the show has nothing new to offer and is littered with stereotypes, it is worth watching due to the memorable performances by its characters. The show was cancelled after just two seasons but remains one of the most intriguing sci-fi series available.
“The problem with meteors like the one that exploded over Russia? We just don’t even know they’re there until it’s too late.”
In 2043, half of humanity is dead from the deadly Kalavirus. Led by physicist Katarina Jones, a group of scientists appoint James Cole to travel back to 2015 to stop the spread of the deadly virus by the ‘Army of the 12 Monkeys’ while trying to discover the identity and location of the organisation’s head known as The Witness who is intellectually superior to them.
Starring Aaron Stanford, Noah Bean, Amanda Schull and more, the series, though criticised for its warped time travel, boasts of brilliant execution in terms of visuals and cinematography as well as well-developed characters. The philosophical underlying themes of predestination and free will come into play as well, stimulating the minds of the audience to deeply think about it.
“This whole world could eat shit and die, wouldn’t matter if you were together.”
In the year 2384, the futuristic Bay City sees the transferring of people’s memories and consciousness by the implanting of a disk-shaped device called the cortical stack at the vertebrae. They can be transferred from one body to another but the person might get killed if the cortical stack is destroyed. The series, which is adapted from Richard K. Morgan’s eponymous 2002 novel, focuses on how a former soldier-turned-investigator Takeshi Kovacs solves the murder of Bancroft, a wealthy man, who appoints Kovacs to get a new shot at life.
This cyberpunk series deals with the themes of an underlying paranoia and confusion in cyberspace which has been overtaken by the hyper-urbanised society filled with man-machines. It is highly entertaining and provides an easy escape into the world of cyberpunk by presenting a show that is the love child of noir thriller and sci-fi films. With highly advanced visuals, the show’s take on humanity trapped in cyberspace as a whole is commendable. with
“We’re smart monkeys, and what we want is always the same. Food, shelter, sex, and in all its forms, escape.”
Prairie Johnson, who had been blind and missing for seven years, makes a shocking comeback and can surprisingly see. She calls herself the Original Angel (OA) and refuses to reveal information to anyone except a group of four high school students and a teacher with whom she wants to save the lives of other people who have disappeared; according to Praire, that would require her to open a portal that leads to another dimension.
After Netflix cancelled the show in 2019, leaving the fans hanging with a cliffhanger in the previous season, severe protests broke out in favour of renewing OA which left Malinger overwhelmed. The show itself has been compared to Stranger Things multiple times; it is ambitious and littered with mystery and sci-fi elements.
“You lose your freedom many times before you finally believe it.”
Another anthology series, which is seen as Black Mirror’s younger sibling, Love, Death & Robots is a short anthology where the episodes deal with various stories set in a nearly dystopian future. Varying themes of love, friendship, robot invasion, revenge, feminism and more take the foreground in every story which has a different premise. From insectoid invasion to finding a civilisation contained within a freezer, the series has a set of crazy ideas which unfold before our eyes in short, and on an average, 20-minute-long episodes.
With “Sonnie’s Edge”, “Beyond the Aquila Rift” and “Zima Blue” being certain personal favourites, the series is a must-watch for sci-fi and cyberpunk aficionados. An abundance of gore, violence and sexual undertones complement the otherworldly and dystopian image of delusion and desolation brought in by the show. Because deep down, we all want to see yoghurts reigning over us someday, right?
“What I want is to hunt. To hunt the men who think they can own us.”
Stranger Things is set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana in the 1980s. It involves a group of children investigating their friend Will Byers’ disappearance which leads them to befriend a girl named Eleven, who has psychokinetic abilities, as well as uncover dark secrets of the government. Gradually, they find out about The Upside Down which is a portal into the alternate universe; Will is held captive by a creature from the Upside Down.
The three-season show is based on Will’s rescue and the subsequent events that follow where the lives of the Hawkins resident are plagued by supernatural monsters from the Upside Down. Stranger Things is a concoction of every child’s dream sequence where they save the day along with their cheeky friends. Even the master of horror, Stephen King, himself has praised the show which has garnered a massive cult following.
“I’m going to my friends. I’m going home.”
Supernatural elements, time travelling, bootstrap paradox, Schrödinger’s cat, and predestination accentuated by remarkable story-telling, stupendous camera work as well outstanding performances made the German series, Dark, a masterpiece itself. A visual treat for sci-fi aficionados, it is set in the fictional town of Winden where the mysterious disappearance of two children exposes the deadly past of the town as well as the web of lies the dysfunctional families are trapped in. In a continuous movement between the events of 1986 and the present, as well as the future, the characters meet their past or future selves and get entangled in webs of ugly lies and complex relationships.
Dark witnessed an incredible blend of anxiety, guilt, paranoia as well as sci-fi elements of time travel and more which made it unique and riveting. The characters race against time to uncover ancient secrets, sending chills down the audience’s back; the series begins with Einstein saying how the difference between past, present and future is just an illusion.
“Most people are nothing but pawns on a chessboard led by an unknown hand.”
Charlie Brooker’s British creepy and terrifyingly realistic sci-fi anthology series is set in a dystopian future modelled on the contemporary world where it goes on to unveil and analyse the problems of modern society fuelled by technology while portraying the immense hold technology has on us. The future portrayed in the series eerily mirrors the future which is right around the corner where our inter-personal and inter-social relationships are influenced by the rapid advancement of technology.
Every episode in this anthology focuses has a focus on different characters or stories which have a lingering presence in the minds of the viewers. Interactive and provocative, Black Mirror elaborates on the changes in human behaviour when mind-controlled by technology. The series is brilliant, with superb visuals and amazing performances, reeking of absurdity and realism. Memory, mind control and trust form an integral part of all these narratives. Living in a world where there is the rapid advancement of technology in the formation of AI and the like, Black Mirror advises people to slow done, lest they face fateful outcomes like that of the characters.
“Authenticity is in woefully short supply.”
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