Essay Writing Samples

Review of the Television Show Mr. Robot

This is a sample research paper that analyzes and reviews a popular TV series, as well as an overview of cyber security in corporate America.

Analyzing the popular TV series Mr. Robot

It is perhaps worth pointing out that the title of the show Mr. Robot is a little misleading. The film’s protagonist is actually Elliot Alderson, a twenty-something loner who also happens to be a genius of a computer programmer and hacker. He works for a cyber security firm called Allsafe that helps protect against DDoS cyber attacks and whose primary client is a giant conglomerate called E Corp (which Elliot himself consistently renders as “Evil Corp”).

Mr. Robot is actually the name of a middle-aged man whom Elliot meets on the subway one evening; his name comes from a tag that can be found on his shirt, and Elliot thinks of him by this name, because the man refuses to identify himself any further. Mr. Robot, however, draws Elliot into a radical hacking conspiracy that is dedicated to the full collapse of Evil Corp, with the primary objective of wiping out all of the company’s information databases.

Within the world of the show, doing this would effectively cancel most of the debt owed by all of the people of the world, due to the fact the E Corp itself is responsible for administrating over much of the debt. The idea is that if the records were annihilated, then all the debt would be de facto canceled, and the world would be able to financially just start over.

Understanding Mr. Robot’s background plot and characters’ psyche

This plot arc itself, however, often serves as little more than a frame within the psychological dramas of Elliot and the other characters of the show are allowed to play out in tandem with each other. Elliot is a troubled young man, to say the least: it is apparent from the start that he suffers from severe anxiety disorders and possibly even some form of psychosis. He is also addicted to opioids. Bishop has summarized Elliot’s social personality in the following way:

“while he can’t sustain a conversation with somebody he cares about, he can play a total stranger to gain access to their thoughts, their feelings, or their personal information” (paragraph 3).

One real-world psychologist, analyzing the character of Elliot, has even suggested that it is precisely Elliot’s confrontation with his own cognitive and emotional problems, which get worse as he is pushed into actual engagement with them, is the primary engine driving the whole show Mr. Robot (Herzog). Thus, while the show can be enjoyed strictly as a kind of political thriller, the real charm of the show emerges when it is considered as a character drama.

Environment and setting of the show

The atmosphere of the show as a whole can be said to have an edgy and vaguely paranoid feeling as a whole. In part, this is surely due to the fact that the show utilizes Elliot himself as an unreliable narrator (Haglund). But in part, it is also because of the nature of the world that is portrayed by the show. Everyone’s personal information is available online through social media platforms and whatnot, and a brilliant hacker like Elliot has no trouble accessing that information at will.

What emerges is a highly lucid picture of the discrepancy between reality and appearance, or what people really are and how they present themselves. It is the world where nothing is what it seems, and multiple levels of deception in social relations are commonplace (Kornhaber). This is not just a description of Elliot’s own paranoia, but rather of the actual objective features of the world he—and by extension, we ourselves—inhabit.

Mr. Robot’s connection with the contemporary world

As has been suggested above, Mr. Robot tends toward producing a very dark social commentary on the contemporary age in which we live: the age of social media, perpetual connectivity, and increasing abstraction. One gets the distinct impression that Elliot, for all his mental problems, probably sees the world more and not less clearly than the average person; he is the archetypical outsider, who can understand the world better precisely because of his own detachment and distance from it.

Aside from this kind of commentary on ordinary social relations, though, Mr. Robot also contains a broader macro-level critique of the late capitalist economic system. It is revealed, for example, that Elliot’s father died as a result of the consequences of willful corporate malfeasance. Moreover, the overarching plot concept of the show features a group of young hackers who are essentially trying to cancel all debt, the veritable backbone of the contemporary economic order.

Real life events portrayed in the TV series

This worldview dovetails excellent with some important trends within the contemporary world. There was the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, for example. One of the favorite books of this movement was David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years—an in-depth analysis of the history of debt within human civilization, and the ways in which debt in the contemporary world is increasingly producing an almost neo-feudal global order that is antithetical to human freedom and a democratic society.

The myriad popular movements that have erupted around the world over the past several years likewise testifies to a growing awareness that the contemporary world is set up in such a way that it is not meant to maximize the well-being of the average man. It is within this real-world context that Mr. Robot’s premise, in which the heroes are essentially anarchists attempting to bring about the collapse of the global economic order, takes on especial salience.

Mr. Robot and connections to the money problem in American

It is also worth pointing out that the financial problems of the European Nations and the United States are a central one for the Millennial generation—that is, the generation most likely to be streaming Mr. Robot on their computers. As Cook has indicated:

“Rising student debt is a central obstacle on the complex new financial landscape confronting Americans, particularly young people just starting out. . . . Nearly three-in-10 young people who define themselves as just starting out cited paying off student loans as their biggest financial challenge” (paragraph 3).

In effect, by simply deciding to get college educations, these young people have put themselves in a position of indentured servitude to the economic system for the indefinite future. And of course, without a college education, success in these times is becoming an increasingly difficult prospect. The result is a kind of societal catch-22, where no matter what young people do, they can’t win.

This has produced strongly progressive inclinations among the Millennial generation, as is evidenced by the presidential candidacy of a man like Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist. This ideological context makes Mr. Robot an extremely timely work of art.

Relationship with a key influence

Considered in terms of its influences, Mr. Robot clearly owes a major debt to the film Fight Club. For one thing, the protagonist, a lonely young man with severe psychological problems, bears striking resemblances to the protagonist of that movie. Moreover, there is the general plot arc as well, which consists of the project of annihilating debt as a means of achieving social revolution: this is an arc shared by both Mr. Robot and Fight Club.

Finally, the two works also share the temperamental affinity of focusing more on individual characters and their minds than the macro-level sociological context, even as that context is shown to be crucial to who the characters are and what they are becoming. That is, Fight Club is not “about” blowing up a building any more than Mr. Robot is “about” blowing up debt records; both works are really psychological dramas, with the thriller-like plot arc merely providing the contexts within which those dramas can unfold.

Conclusion

In summary, the present essay has consisted of a review of the television show Mr. Robot. The essay has provided an overview of the show’s scenario, the company’s connection to cyber crimes, its connection with the contemporary world, its relationship to a key influence, and its general quality and prospects for the future. The conclusion that has been reached in this review is a highly favorable one. Mr. Robot is an excellent television show both because of the timeliness of its overarching scenario and the compellingness of its characters and their unfolding dramas.

Works Cited

Bishop, Bryan. “Mr. Robot: Finally, a Hacking Show that Won’t Make You Facepalm.” Verge. 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/18/8240633/sxsw-2015-mr-robot-review-christian-slater.

Cook, Nancy. “Confirmed: Millennials’ Top Financial Concern Is Student-Loan Debt.” The Atlantic. 20 Jun. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/millennials-student-loan-debt-money/396275/.

Graeber, David. Debt: The First 5,000 Years. New York: Melville House. Print.

Hagland, David. “‘Mr. Robot’ and the Angry Young Man.” New Yorker. 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/mr-robot-and-the-angry-young-man.

Herzog, Kenny. “A Psychiatrist Analyzes Mr. Robot’s Elliot Anderson.” Vulture. 20 Aug. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. http://www.vulture.com/2015/08/mr-robot-elliot-alderson-psych-evaluation.html.

Kornhaber, Spencer. “Mr. Robot’s Lies and Liars.” The Atlantic. 2 Sep. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/09/mr-robots-season-one-finale-lying-manipulation-zero-day-review/402379/.

Morris, Brogan. “How Mr. Robot Took Fight Club and Perfected It for a New Generation.” Paste. 23 Sep. 2015. http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/09/how-mr-robot-took-fight-club-and-perfected-it-for.html.

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