Devs is a new eight-part science fiction miniseries on FX on Hulu. Physics and philosophy dominate this story but in a bogus way. Quantum computers are used to do things quantum computer will never do. The plot is driven by cliché thriller violence, while the characters are motivated by emotional reactions taken to absurd lengths. I should have hated this TV show, but I loved it. I’m even thinking about watching it again already.
Why, if the parts are so bad, can the whole be so good? The Matrix also abused physics, philosophy, computers, and succeeded in being wildly entertaining too. I’m trying very hard not to tell anything specific about Devs — I don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun. Reading the reviews, my guess is about 20-30% of viewers won’t like this show, but the rest might. Especially, if you love science fiction. If you’ve ever said, “Far fucking out, this is blowing my mind, man” (or its Millennial equivalent) while stoned then this show is for you.
Science fiction often tortures science to convey a sense of wonder — and some of the best science fiction goes beyond science to remind us of the limits of reality. Devs has the kind of physics and philosophy that potheads and science fiction nerds love to use to mess with each other’s heads. We should be reading Plato and Penrose but it’s more amusing to psych ourselves out by watching philosophy-fiction. (Phi-Fic?)
Quantum physics has become the LSD of science fiction. Einstein hated its spooky strangeness. In the absence of a general theory of everything its possible to imply anything, and Devs takes us to some gnarly places. I wish Devs hadn’t felt the need for building its plot on a murder — and instead based it on philosophical concepts duking it out on a peaceful personal level.
The show seems to have paid off free-will to throw the fight in favor of determinism. I’m grateful they didn’t bring in good and evil, although in such a knockdown brawl of ontologies, tag-teaming the theory of God for a few rounds could have been even more consciousness-expanding.
I don’t believe in any of the theories or inventions Devs proposes, but I can’t mention them without spoiling your potential fun. What Alex Garland does is take some fascinating speculations and extrapolate them to their limits, creating some groovy PKDian science fiction.
4 thoughts on “Devs – Turn On, Tune In, Psyche Out”
Thanks for the review. I love these crazy science fiction shows. I didn’t take the hook from the pre-view. Now I must check it out! Thanks!
I feel like I want to respond and discuss the particulars but, spoilers…
So I’ll just say I was here😇
What was interesting about the show were some of the social details among young people. They lived in the city and went out to the countryside to work in this Zen Forest devoted to computer design… you can almost hear the temple bells in the background. There were a lot of Silent knowing stares among the main characters as their hidden secret made them invulnerable to daily struggles that the rest of us mere mortals have to deal with….. in and around the campus Stark concrete structures and Circles of light surround trees …. this story deals with a Multi Universe where every decision branches off and a new world is formed… this is a computer nerds Holy Grail … unfortunately I see it more of a narcissistic” what if” as if there is no wrong decisions just decisions that keep multiplying an infinite number of universes….