Humans

About

Humans is a TV series within the sci-fi and dystopian genres. It is about synthetic robots (which fits in with the sci-fi genre).

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Notes 1

The target audience for this media text are both males and females, specifically young adults. Its’ sci-fi genre means that its’ target audience are people who like that genre. Its’ target audience is also Americans and British people- this is because it is an American series with English actors/actresses that is also aired on British TV channel, Channel 4.

The leading characters are both males and females.

The target audience is people no younger than 15/16 due to the scary and adult themes and the confusing storyline that requires viewers to really concentrate.

Channel 4 have done documentaries on robots, so Humans fits in with the other programmes shown on the channel.

The music used fits in with the sci-fi genre.

If you like a particular actor or actress, you are likely to want to watch all of the films/shows they are on. Many of the cast in Humans have been in other popular films and TV shows. If you enjoyed watching one of the cast in a film, you might watch Humans purely because they are in it. Many of the cast have been in other well-known films and/or TV shows. For example, Emily Berrington (Niska) was in The Inbetweeners and Outnumbered, and Jill Halfpenny (Jill Drummond) was in Coronation Street and EastEnders. Someone who loved watching Jill Halfpenny in EastEnders might watch Humans purely because she is in it.

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Notes 2

The series includes enigma codes. These are unanswered questions that make the audience want to watch the next episode. An example of this is when Anita takes Sophie out of the house in the night. The audience want to know why Anita is doing this and what her intentions are.

There are certain expectations the audience have of a genre. This series is of the sci-fi genre. Audiences take pleasure in seeing their expectations either fulfilled or challenged. This series does meet expectations as there are robots and a futuristic element.

There are elements of realism within the media text. Although this is a futuristic series, the audience can empathise with the character of Laura. Laura is in a marriage that isn’t working very well, and she is feeling replaced by the synth (Anita). Other women who are in a marriage or relationship that isn’t working may be able to relate to her and so it makes her character seem much more life-like/real.

What is seen is very different to real life (although we do have some robots and there are elements of realism)  and so watching this takes us away from everything going on in our lives.

Adult themes in the programme are violence, abduction, scenes of a sexual nature and relationship problems.

Some parts of the series make the audience feel emotion. Sophie cries in Episode 2 because she had a bad dream and she cries again when Anita is being taken “back”. This may make some audience members feel sad to see her cry.

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Notes 3

The programme appeals to fans of the thriller genre as the robots seem to be dangerous and a threat to us.

Anita smiles at the end when Laura is taking her “back” (showing emotion, which synths are not meant to do).

It makes viewers question how the different storylines link (we eventually start to be shown how they link but not straight away)

Laura’s parents died when she was younger, but we aren’t told how.

The setting and transport are not futuristic, so this makes it seem like something like it could happen in the real world.

We learn about the characters as the programme goes on and start to care about them.

The storylines are: the Hawkins’ family and Anita, Dr George Millican and Odi, The Drummonds and Simon, Professor Hobb and Fred and the self-aware synths. The storylines are connected. In each storyline, there is at least one synth. At one point in episode 1, Leo and Max are looking for Fred and Mia (A.K.A. Anita). The main synths have been created to become more self-aware and “human-like”. Pete Drummond is the one who tells Dr Millican that he needs to get rid of Odi.

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Notes 4

In episode 1: Joe  buys a synth to help him manage the household as his wife is away a lot with work. Laura returns, unaware until she sees the synth, and the presence of the synth makes her feel displaced. Sophie names the synth Anita after her friend who moved away. We see a flashback of a group of synths five weeks earlier hiding in the forest and all except Max and Leo being abducted and taken away into London. Fred is concealing a mobile phone and taken in for investigation by Hobb, who thinks he is different. George’s synth Odi malfunctions and injures a shop assistant. Anita carries Sophie out of the house in the night.

In episode 2: Anita continues to worry Mattie with her human-like nature, and Laura with her closeness to Sophie and how she’s taken over house tasks that Laura would normally do herself, while Toby finds himself enticed by her. George hides Odi, who he refuses to let go, while he deals with his new overbearing health-service synth, Vera. Pete finds himself pushed aside when Jill begins to depend more on their synth Simon than him. Niska has an elderly customer at the brothel who asks her to act young and frightened, but then behaves threateningly. She kills him and then escapes. Fred remains captured in the facility run by Hobb, who inspects his memory and finds images and memories of Anita. Laura suspects that Anita is faulty, and prepares to take her back. Anita smiles when she realises she’s going “back”.

Humans is a multistrand narrative, as there are various different storylines that develop in the same episode. It is also a serial television drama, as the story unfolds episode by episode. It is an unrestricted narrative because the audience knows more than the characters within the world of the text.

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Notes 5

Humans uses enigma- elements of the plot raise questions from the audience about goings on.

A sci-fi thriller media text often features stock characters, e.g. scientists and robots. Humans does this, as it features robots (synths). Media texts of this genre also feature a humans vs robots theme. This is shown through the episode, as we see the conflict between Laura Hawkins, who is a human, and Anita, who is a synthetic. Sci-fi thrillers also often feature scientific discovery and its’ impact, and a representation of robots as something to fear. The scientific discovery in Humans is that of synths, as we see right at the start of episode 1 that synths are still a recent discovery (though Odi, Dr George Millican’s synth, is quite old) and that humans are starting to buy them. Humans represents robots as something to fear, as we see some of the humans feeling quite scared and threatened by them and by the role they may soon play in society, and we also see a documentary about how synths may be conscious. However, we start to feel quite sorry for the synths a few episodes in, as we learn about what they have been and are going through. This is something that is not usually found in media texts within the sci-fi thriller genre.

A TV serial drama often features character development. Throughout the episode, we start to learn more about each character. It also often features a multistrand narrative, which is the case in Humans as there are many storylines. Humans also has a cliff-hanger at the end of each episode (this is typical of a TV serial drama). At the end of episode 1, it finishes with Anita carrying Sophie out of the house one night. The episode does not feature a resolution- we as an audience are still questioning whether or not Anita is conscious (an enigma code that has been present from earlier on in the episode) when the credits roll.

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Notes 6

Humans isn’t just a TV serial drama, it is also a sci-fi thriller media text. Therefore it has features of both genres. As it is a TV serial drama, there are some things that a normal Sci-fi thriller media text would usually have but that are not featured in Humans. For example, in a sci-fi thriller, you would usually expect a futuristic setting and for it to be very scientific focused. However, in humans, there is no futuristic setting (it makes it seem like something that could happen in the very near future rather than in the far future, which is possible as robots are being created at present) and although it does have somewhat of a scientific focus as synthetics are involved, it also has a focus on daily life- the storyline of the Hawkins’ family focuses more on Laura’s relationship with her husband Joe and children Mattie, Toby and Sophie. Not including a futuristic setting or having too much of a scientific focus makes Humans appeal to not only fans of the sci-fi thriller genre but also people who like to watch TV serial dramas.

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Theories

Todorov’s Narratology theory can be applied. Todorov believes that there is a common pattern of movement throughout all linear narratives. This is where there is: a stable equilibrium (sense of order), a disruption of the equilibrium (something unusual occurs), recognition of disrupted equilibrium (the characters identify that something needs to be resolved), an attempt to restore equilibrium (the characters make an effort to resolve the issue) and the restored equilibrium. These can be in any order. For example: Laura Hawkins is away but this is normal for her family (stable), Joe is struggling with managing his family and household jobs (disrupted and recognition) and so Joe buys a synth to help him (attempt to restore). There is no restored equilibrium for this by the end of the episode, as Laura returns home and the presence of the synth causes more problems.

Neale’s genre theory can also be applied. Steve Neale says that ‘genres are instances of repetition and difference’ and that genres change, develop and vary as they borrow from and overlap with one another. This is shown in Humans. Humans is of the sci-fi thriller and TV serial drama genres.

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