Amazon’s #1 Show Is a Splashy Sci-Fi Thriller With Mixed Reviews

Chloe Grace Moretz wears a futuristic gaming headset in Amazon Prime Video

After I finally finished my Rings of Power Watch, Amazon served up the trailer for the show, which aims to make it the next buzzed-about thing. With a big budget and big names associated with the production –Westworlds Creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy serve as executive producers, Hollywood star Chloë Grace Moretz stars, and the story is based on a book of the same name by legendary cyberpunk pioneer William Gibson –The Periphery looks smooth and sparkling. It exudes vibes from The Matrix meets Ready player one and ghost in the shellwith a touch of ozark and references to Ender’s game in his suggestion that what appears to be a virtual “game” set in the future could be far more than meets the eye. According to FlixPatrol, which tracks streaming trends, The Periphery is currently #1 on Amazon Prime Video. However, now that the show is almost complete with its first season, one pressing question arises: is it any good?

Our own Chelsea Steiner had a positive outlook on The Periphery back when it debuted in October 2022, but suggested we’d have to wait and see how things develop. “Similar to western world, The Periphery plays with questions of reality, time and the nature of existence,” she wrote. “But will the series be able to ground itself in coherence, a challenge that is western world struggled with becoming more esoteric?” Overall reviews for the show appear to have been mixed from the start, although audience reactions have turned more positive as the series has progressed. It currently has a viewer rating of 8.1/10 on IMDb, with particular praise for the penultimate episode of the first season. Rotten Tomatoes viewership sits at a healthy 88% while aggregate critic votes fell The Periphery 76% – still fresh but essentially a C if this were a school report card.

Critics were decidedly at sea in October when members of the press were sent the first six episodes of the series (of eight) for review. Lorraine Ali at The Los Angeles Times found the whole thing confusing and summed up the show’s plot and setting as follows: “[the series] takes place in the near and far future, the natural world and virtual reality, Appalachia and London. Connecting all of these places and spaces is a new VR “game” so advanced it blurs the line between the physical realm and the simulated experience, leaving players – and viewers of the show – incredibly confused.”

Meanwhile, other reviewers loved what they saw. “The Periphery is the most important cyberpunk adaptation since Bladerunner‘ wrote Ryan Britt for Vice versa. Britt felt the series was “cyberpunk reborn for a modern audience” and claimed that the storyline was easy to follow despite “many moving sci-fi parts”. Excitingly, he says there’s “a driving resolution at the end of each episode,” which is an element that tends to hook me. CNET’s Jennifer Bisset called the show “an addictive puzzle box.” Demonstrate how much critical points of view can differ, over there The playlist Brian Tallerico wrote this The Periphery wants to “transport [us] into a boring and disjointed future,” and that “it’s a clunky disaster almost from the start.” Tallerico felt “[e]every other conversation is laden with so much pretentious meaning that’s never attached to anything relatable,” while the series “seems to be actively fighting viewers’ investment and gets more complicated with each episode.” Fans of the show or not, critics have praised the compelling performances of Moretz and the rest of the cast, as well as the detailed production design funded by Amazon budgets.

It may depend on whether the viewer is a fan of cyberpunk and futuristic sims/games/time travel/confusing storylines in general. writing for TheWrapKarama Horne concluded:

Despite the stunning cinematography and superb production and costume design, The Peripheral can be a bit confusing if you’re unfamiliar with time-traveling tropes, virtual reality avatars, and gaming side missions. In other words, if you haven’t made it through Westworld, you’ll probably have trouble understanding this series at first. But if you’re a fan of cyberpunk crime drama anime like Ghost in the Shell or Psycho-Pass, or are looking for something to scratch that Westworld itch, The Peripheral is a joy to watch.

Considering how enthusiastic the audience evaluators were The Periphery‘s seventh episode, “The Doodad,” which aired on Thanksgiving, the show may end on a strong note and head in the right direction. The eighth and final episode of the first season, The Creation of a Thousand Forests, is scheduled for December 2, 2022. I will add The Periphery on my to-watch list because this type of content tends to gel with me and I’m curious where I fall on that critical spectrum. did you watch The Periphery? Is it worth getting into this series? Tell us in the comments!

(Image: Amazon Prime Video)

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