Utopia Falls season 1 review – Hulu’s new dystopian-future teen drama is “okay”

February 14, 2020
Daniel Hart 0
Hulu, TV Reviews


Thin, immature writing hinders an otherwise great concept, as Utopia Falls season 1 falls victim to the tired teen sci-fi formula on Hulu.

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Thin, immature writing hinders an otherwise great concept, as Utopia Falls season 1 falls victim to the tired teen sci-fi formula on Hulu.

Hulu series Utopia Falls season 1 was released on the platform on February 14, 2020. Check out all our Hulu coverage.

When Hunger Games was first adapted to film form, we were blessed by a highly-fuelled dystopian future teen drama with a formula that worked — it was an unchallenging environment for writers because the problems for the teenage characters wrote themselves. The future is s*** and they need to grow up in it — it doesn’t get as dramatically appealing as that.

But then for some strange reason, Hunger Games never sealed itself as a critically well-praised film series; Maze Runner followed suit and bored its audiences to death and Divergent… well, let’s park that hogwash for another day. The formula tired and died very quickly.

Teens fighting for themselves in a dystopian future is a popular concept, but one that is wildly missing the mark. Bring forth Hulu series Utopia Falls that follows the same missteps.

Utopia Falls season 1 presents a world where the closed off population is unaware of their cultural history; music, clothes, pop culture is an ancient myth, ready to be propelled in their constructed, organized and seemingly balanced political ideals.

And that brings forth the core concept; a group of teenagers uncovers an ancient archive of historical, cultural and musical relics that encourages the teenagers to question their reality. Utopia Falls season 1 quickly previews the world the teenagers reside in; they live in a large dome, boxed off from the poisonous outside world.

“Using the power of music to expose the truth” is flagrantly the byline.

But the writing is thin and oddly immature and the Hulu series truly exposes itself in the opening episode of Utopia Falls. We are introduced to Aliyah and Bohdi who represent different clans of this dystopia and the script presents itself as if they hate each other immediately. But of course, the old adage of “treat them mean, keep them keen” is rife between both characters. The two black teenagers go from completely hating each other to banding together on the outskirts of the dome, raising a sly smile here and there as they interact.

The writers could not fathom any better reasons for these two characters to work together other than “silly teenage hormones”.

The discovery of the ancient archives is a moment that made me shut my eyes for all the wrong reasons; leading characters Aliyah and Bohdi ask what hip hop is and accidentally play “Juicy” by Biggie Smalls, and lo and behold we have two black teenagers trying to absorb a hip hop classic that they’ve never heard before. Yes, the opening premise, which introduces the concept of teenagers using music to discover the truth, is presented by two black teenagers who do not know their history.

And don’t get me wrong, I get how the concept works, and I’m not purposefully trying to be “woke”, but I almost cringed to death as Aliyah and Bohdi start moving their bodies in excitement as they try to bop to the beat.

From here, unfortunately, Utopia Falls season 1 does not get much better. The writing remains stale and unimaginative as a group of teenagers use music and cultural relics to expose the truth and just like the similar titles mentioned before, the formula is proving to be a dying art.

We can do better than this.

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