Unusual, surprising and arguably unmissable, Love, Death + Robots is a bold, genre-blending anthology series that demands to be seen.
Debuting on Netflix today with a lot of promotion, 18 bite-sized segments and one of the boldest, most surprising attitudes of any show in a while, Love, Death + Robots is a genre-splicing anthology series that delivers just over three hours of memorable absurdity.
Plucking from tropes and themes in sci-fi, horror, and fantasy, the mixed bag of stories on offer here are wildly diverse, variably successful, but consistently fascinating in the visual and thematic approaches they take to well-worn material. To put it another way: Some are great, some are terrible, but they’re all, in one way or another, worth the few minutes they take to watch.
On some level, Love, Death + Robots anticipates that no one viewer will take to every story, and so it veers wildly between animation styles, tones, and themes, offering hand-drawn art in one episode, cuddly Pixar-style creations in the next, and photorealistic CG in another. The consistently inventive aesthetic often evokes other mediums or reference points within this one, leading to an overall season arc that feels like chucking decades of visual art and genre storytelling at the wall and just seeing what sticks.
There are unifying themes here, most of them predictable, but frequent instances of very sharp writing allow the standout episodes of Love, Death + Robots to really resonate thanks to neat twists, thought-provoking ambiguity, or experimentation with structure and style. Its lack of consistency is in many ways an advantage; there is no greater pull towards the next episode than simply having no idea what it might contain.
One of the downsides of Love, Death + Robots is that what those episodes frequently contain is so-called “adult” content, the enthusiastic application of which can often be considered childish. There’s nothing wrong with nudity and violence and suchlike, but when its nakedly (excuse the pun) deployed at the expense of any better ideas it can start to grate. A couple of episodes feel too overly reliant on titillating and provoking rather than being genuinely challenging or interesting, but thankfully there are less of these than there might have been.
Ultimately, the great advantage of Love, Death + Robots is that there’s nothing else quite like it on Netflix – even similar anthological or experimental shows fail to cover the same amount of ground in quite as diverse a way, despite being slightly more approachable. For its aggressiveness, its breadth and its boldness, this is an anthology series that deserves to be seen.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.