“The only thing you can do is prepare for the worst-case scenarios” says creator Sam Esmail. When discussing the series’s consequential effects of digital consumption and output, Esmail stresses that nothing is safe. Esmail continues: “Because...whether it’s in the right hands or in the wrong hands, hurricanes are going to happen.”
On its own merit— Mr. Robot is a wired epic poem with enough attention to detail it almost becomes reminiscent of Homer’s tale, The Odyssey. Except, instead of sailing across ferocious waters to ominous battles, we are sailing across the water-cut plastic keyboards to immediate culture clashes. However, the show’s true neo-noir inspiration comes from another satirical neo-noir of cult classic status. David Fincher’s Fight Club has now become an impactful take on contemporary consumer culture and has reached legendary stature because of it — an influence that even the show must acknowledge (and has, with the ninth episode winking to the film’s title song “Where is my Mind?”).
Mr. Robot has received widespread acclaim just from its first season. Of course, the acclaim does not only come from attentive viewers, but also real-life attentive hackers who have praised the film for its realistic approach towards the hacking culture and the digital revolution. Each episode is not given a normal title like any other show. This is because this is not like any other show. With episode titles such as "eps1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg" and "eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt:" how can you expect it to be?
We all like to share. We share family and vacation photos, our meals, our hobbies. We like to share what’s on our minds as well as criticize others for what’s on theirs. The show thrives on using our modern obsession with sharing — turning us into our worst enemy in the process.
Our thoughts and privacy have become a digital nirvana to those who know how to take it (Yes, I’ve now coined the term digital nirvana). The show is not set in the future and it does not have impractical character motivations. This is very much a pragmatic fable set in an environment where pixels have become a commodity. Don’t believe that? You realize the whole 2011 Egyptian Revolution was live-streamed, forcing the journalists to resort to social media platforms such as Twitter.
Similarly to how Fight Club was more than happy to oblige in flipping off its consumerism culture, Mr. Robot has taken that approach to both the digital age and advancing consumerism culture. Of course, the show has gained much more from Fight Club than its anti-establishment persona and the Pixies’ song. Here are just a few of them.
Both the film and the series are being narrated by an unreliable narrator. It also just so happens that both narrators suffer from social anxiety disorder and clinical depression.
Both are significant components to an underground group of followers bent on anonymous guerrilla warfare.
Wiping The Record Clean
Ridding the world of their credit and debt to start from scratch. Not much else to add, Mr. Robot owes everything to Fight Club on this one.
Finally, the obvious part. Along with social anxiety and depression, both characters suffer from vivid delusions. Mr. Robot, Elliot’s deceased father, and Tyler Durden are figments of our narrators' imaginations — both becoming the primary source of their revolutions.
Conflicted Men In Suits
And just for sh*ts and giggles — there’s also a glaring reference to American Psycho in the form of Tyrell Wellick. Wellick and Patrick Bateman are violently ambitious men with no qualms about getting their hands dirty in the name of success.
The second season of Mr. Robot premieres on July 13th and it will no doubt be interesting to see which direction the series will go in now that Mr. Robot’s existence has been divulged.