Unnatural Selection Recap: Playing God

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 18, 2019 (Last updated: December 16, 2023)
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Netflix Series Unnatural Selection Season 1, Episode 1 - Cut, Paste, Life


Unnatural Selection Season 1, Episode 1, “Cut, Paste, Life” struggles to form both sides of the debate for the advancements of gene-editing, but is still interesting.

This recap of Netflix Series Unnatural Selection Season 1, Episode 1, “Cut, Paste, Life” contains information regarding the episode. You can read the season review by clicking these words.

I remember in Fringe when Walter is asked about the ethics of his experiments, and he cruelly responds to his assistant that “I am the God of this laboratory”. That scene has stayed in my brain ever since, and I’ve always wondered — if we can modify our genetics in advancing technology, can it ever be deemed ethical?

Episode 1, “Cut, Paste, Life” explores that notion surrounding gene editing; it opens up with parents whose son is having genetic issues of his own. Due to missing genes inherited from his parents, he will eventually become blind. Unnatural Selection immediately punts the question to the audience — if we ever modified this boy’s genes to prevent him from becoming blind, is that wrong? It’s hard to argue against improving one’s life. I know most parents would chop their own hands off to allow it to happen

But there’s a line isn’t there? And that’s what the first episode debates. Unnatural Selection states this is not a country by country debate, but individuals. Outside of modern laboratories, some individuals have the ability to experiment with editing and inserting genes. While developing worlds may be behind scientifically, it only takes one self-proclaimed scientist to set up shop and make this a reality. We often consume Film & TV that toy with advancements almost as if it was a future possibility, but it is evident in “Cut, Paste, Life” that this reality has already been birthed.

Once the documentary reaches halfway through, I did wince at the scientists exploring this ideology on their own and presenting it to skeptical audiences who question the ethics. The Netflix series does not do a grand job in amplifying their argument but makes them look power-hungry to be a creator, a world-changer… a God. When one scientist decides to inject himself with protein to modify his genes, that’s when I wondered if off-cuff side-street modifications are the way forward.

But in the same nutshell, would it be so bad if we modified the human race, so we never had bad eyesight, or we were naturally strong? It would undoubtedly make the course of our evolution interesting. One thing is for sure — if we can ever eradicate harmful diseases, then we’d have a fight on our hands to prevent ourselves from becoming Gods. Unnatural Selection Season 1, Episode 1, “Cut, Paste, Life” leaves you pondering the what-ifs.

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