If, a year ago, a television series suggested that somehow the SARS virus was introduced to China by a rogue American scientist—and that covert biological warfare raged between the superpowers—we all might have shrugged it off as good fictional fun. Amazon’s Utopia, based on the British Channel 4 series of the same name, turns epidemiological conspiracy theory into an 8-episode binge. And while it may do nothing to abate actual Chinese-America conspiracies, the series also shows the dangers of rushing vaccines into widespread usage (even if that too is a bit conspiratorial). In short: Utopia will feel oddly prescient and perhaps itself become an object of conspiratorial obsession. Just what the internet needs.
In reality, Utopia has been in production for a number of years. Originally, HBO planned to produce the series with David Fincher attached as director (Fincher and Utopia writer Gillian Flynn had previously worked together on Gone Girl, the Academy Award-nominated adaptation of Flynn's bestselling novel.) Amazon picked up the series in 2018 and moved forward without Fincher.
The result: the same comically bloody fare that’s become all the rage in streaming lately—Hunters, The Boys, Umbrella Academy—vividly-colored rated-R adaptations, featuring teams of people doing terrible things to supposedly terrible people.
If that’s your jam, then Utopia is probably your show. But will all the twists and conspiracies continue?
Will there be a Season 2 of Utopia?
While Amazon has yet to officially confirm season 2 of Utopia, there's strong precedent. The Channel 4 series (written by Dennis Kelly, whose newest show The Third Day is currently airing on HBO) upon which the American series is based ran for two seasons and 12 episodes. While they cover similar ground, the American Utopia diverges from the original, meaning the series isn't bound by rigid source material. (Though this can also throw a series off the rails.)
In an interview with World Screen, series writer Gillian Flynn responded to whether she was mapping out season 2.
"Absolutely. We’re already getting in gear. It seems strange since I feel like I signed off on it only a couple of weeks ago. Is it time to get back into the Utopia world? I never left! I’ve been in it for six and a half years!"
That Flynn "signed off" on working a second season feels like a good sign. It seems Amazon is game to move the series forward.
What will Season 2 be about?
Season 1 was written and filmed pre-pandemic, making all conspiracy and vaccine motifs unintentional. Season 2, written and filmed post-COVID-19, isn't likely to ignore events of the last several months. A show about virology after 2020 will most certainly be informed by the anxieties, errors, and outcomes surrounding that international response.
Let's just hope it's not too on the nose. Season 1, blind to the future as it was, still feels too close to home.
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