Do Not Second Screen During Altered Carbon

Hooboy.

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(No spoilers)

I get the appeal of an end-of-day Netflix episode. A moment to chill out, unwind after work, maybe catch up on Instagram fluff or swipe through a few Tinder faces. If that’s your idea of a Tuesday night, watch something else.

Altered Carbon is not your relaxing evening. Altered Carbon is not how you end a long and productive day at the office. Altered Carbon is what you watch when you have the flu, a sprained ankle, or are snowed the fuck in. This is a show you watch in its entirety, and with complete focus. Put your phone down, Jessica, and strap in.

I’d been ill all week and have no interest in professional football, so I figured this weekend was the perfect gelling of opportunity and release date to watch Altered Carbon. No that’s not true the real reason I decided to start watching this is that Joel Kinnaman is the husband I’d order off a menu if the opportunity presented itself. Anyway.

The trailers weren’t as interesting to me as the general concept, based on the 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan. The idea that we could live forever by having our consciousness transferred into new bodies was a horrifying notion, until I thought that if someone gave me the ability to that to my cat I’d sign right up. It helps to put this show in perspective.

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There is a lot to see here. There’s a lot to consume. Yes, visually the sets, if they even exist or are just being digitally rendered, are stunning. They’re very new and require your brain to consider them for a minute before relaxing into comfort and understanding. This isn’t the flat, afghan-laden couch sitcom living room of yore, this is the tequila dream you had last summer if it were painted in neon while changing its shape every 60 seconds.

The plot is thick as kindergarten paste and the reason I want you to keep your phone in another room is that if you lose focus even for a moment, you will miss something, and that miss means you’re missing out on a very layered, quickly moving, kind of insane tale. People clearly put a lot of work into this. A little respect, please.

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Second screening means also be missing out on absorbing the ethnically and culturally diverse components of the show that made me want more of them and clearly highlight how they’re missing from so much else we watch. The more languages that have to be subtitled in, the better, if you ask me. The unique utopian idea of every culture living together is found, oddly enough, in a show that viciously divides rich from poor. And, without giving away a huge, no pun intended, spoiler–this show does nudity. Full nudity, and it ain’t just female. Stick that in your phone and download it.

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I want you to pay attention when you watch this show. I don’t want you to be hate tweeting at the far right (well, I do but not during this show) and then get to the end of it and think, “that wasn’t amazing.” It was amazing asshole, you were just on your phone.

We have every form of entertainment we could ever need, so to stand out as great that entertainment has to truly swing for the fences every time it makes one season of television aka a ten-hour movie. This show took a swing at the fucking solar system. It will impress you, if you let it.

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All the things we now have the ability to pay attention to are fighting so hard for our attention that we’re splitting it into pieces. If I can give one review of this show without spoiling anything, it’s that Altered Carbon is worthy of ignoring everything else around you for ten hours. Get a cup of coffee, pause it to pee, but otherwise eyes front, mister.

Altered Carbon is really, really good. It’s complex and weird and smart. If those are things that don’t warrant a weekend happily spent in front of one screen and one screen only, go watch reality tv with commercials, peasant. Netflix wants to entertain us. It wants to make money, but it wants to entertain us. Altered Carbon is Netflix’s way of saying, “alright fuckers, watch this.” I suggest you take it up on its offer.

Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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