Every time period has its own vision of the future, whether that future consists of unlimited plenty and moon colonies or zombies and ruthless ape overlords. But do retro visions of the future sometimes cycle back into our current movies and TV?

In response to this week's recap of Almost Human, commenter Briareosdx advances an intriguing theory: Almost Human is set not in our own future, but in the future as imagined in the 1980s.


I came to a realization about this show, and ever since it has helped me to understand it perfectly as one of the most meta-science-fictional shows ever created. The realization is this:

Almost Human is a work of period fiction. It is set not in the near future, but in the the 1980's vision of the near future. Specifically, the cinematic vision of the near future as seen in other 80's sci-fi films such as Robocop, Runaway, Blade Runner, and so on.

Let that sink in. Almost Human does not take place in the future as we now think it will be, but in a modern interpretation of the near future we went to see in the movies in the 1980s.

Once you understand this, all the odd things about the show become clear.That's why I think this is a deliberate choice on the part of the creative team. The show plays with some of the tropes from the films of this era, as it brushes with technophobia, xenophobia, and even some of the questionable aspects of the show's female characters. However, as it is still a period piece made by modern people, it only plays with these thigs instead of embracing them. There are some very uncomfortable moments in a lot of 1980s films, particularly when it comes to women and foreigners. But just as a Masterpiece Theater murder mystery doesn't usually delve into the casual racism of the turn of the century, these elements act more as a signifier of the setting than a thematic point.

It is an odd thing to do in a show, but go back through the sci-fi of the 80's and the intention becomes almost overwhelming. Hell, even Kennex himself is clearly an 80's movie hero. Tough guy exterior, rough around the edges, a bit technophobic and old fashioned, a heart of gold underneath he denies he has, all wrapped up in a silly "tough guy" name.

And in the 80's, or at least the sci-fi of the 80s as we remember it, you had to have a silly tough guy name.


Do you have any other TV shows or movies that you think are set in the retro future? Tell us about it now.