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Series / Brave New World

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Everybody in their Place. Everybody Happy Now.

"This is New London. Everybody's happy here, everybody has a purpose, there's no hunger or violence...You just need to embrace this place and let it be wonderful."
-Bernard Marx

Based on the ground-breaking novel by Aldous Huxley (which was also adapted into a TV movie in 1980 [in the UK] and 1998 [in America]), Brave New World is an original series made for on NBC's streaming service Peacock, launched on July 15, 2020. The cast includes Jessica Brown Findlay as Lenina Crowne, Harry Lloyd as Bernard Marx, Alden Ehrenreich as John the Savage, Hannah John-Kamen as Wilhelmina "Helm" Watson, and Demi Moore as Linda.

Welcome to New London. A world without hunger, disease, or sadness. A world where everyone has a place in society and anything that doesn't fit is simply left out. But beneath this veneer of happiness and peace lies a darker side, a world of a strict caste system, free will suppressed, and where the happiness everyone experiences comes in the form of a pill.

The series focuses on the story of John, or as society calls him, "John the Savage". Growing up in the outside world, John's life changes forever when he is brought into the bright and clean New London. Quickly though things take a turn as John's views and sense of morality come to clash with that of his new home. As he digs deeper into the secrets of the city, John will soon learn there are forces at work that will do anything to keep their "perfect world" from collapsing...

This series shows examples of...

  • Accidental Murder: The Director is accidentally killed by John when struggling with him on the edge of a cliff, over which he falls to his death.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: The book was basically the story of John struggling to find a place in New London but eventually leading to self-exile and suicide, with his actions never causing any change. The series instead heads in the direction of his presence causing upheavals in society and citizens beginning to question the cost of a "utopia", along with a violent resistance/terrorist movement who rise up in the "Savage Lands".
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Bernard, Lenina and Linda are quite a bit more good-looking than their book counterparts are described as.
  • Adaptational Badass: Lenina was a much more shallow character in the books, only deviating mildly from social norms; here, she's fleshed out much more and grows actively defiant. Linda is also a lot stronger here and shows useful skills, whereas in the book she's a weak, useless person. John, unlike his book counterpart, also successfully makes many New Londoners question their society and helps inspire a revolution. He's quick to use violence (or incite others) in contrast with his book counterpart too.
  • Adaptational Diversity: The book didn't describe many New Londoners as being people of color. Here, they are nearly as common as white people. Additionally, it adds more women, and some male characters (such as Mond) are gender flipped as well. Mond is also given a race lift, becoming black.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • John the Savage is quite changed from how he is in the book. He shows far less of a cultured air and unlike his book counterpart he has casual sex with a string of women (plus some men) very willingly. His book counterpart only had sex once in a moment of weakness after using Soma, and felt terrible about it afterward, as he only wanted to have serious, monogamous relationships. This also goes hand-in-hand with Adaptational Badass, as he's more successful in shaking up the society of New London and is quicker to use violence.
    • Lenina is another recipient of this. In the book, she was a much more shallow and superficial character who barely thinks much deeper about how her society functions. In the series, she's more inquisitive and becomes far more actively defiant.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In the book, Lenina hits on John but he rejects this because he only wants to have a more serious relationship (which is foreign to her, as the society she grew up in outright discourages monogamy). Here, they not only have sex but also get into a more serious relationship, which Lenina wants too.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: The series implies most if not all New Londoners are bisexuals, given their orgies show people pairing up without regard to genders, plus Lenina's interactions with her friend Frannie and Bernard's comments, while the book has them as strictly heterosexual libertines. As he begins to enjoy himself more and more in New London, John is shown hooking up with a few men despite being heterosexual in the book, although admittedly some of them have masks on their face, implying a level of discomfort.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The higher-ups seem to know what everyone is doing at all times. Lenina is called in for some counseling by Bernard since they've monitored her sexual activities (which are deemed too monogamous), and have recordings of them all (to her discomfort). He isn't exempt either-he's reprimanded for briefly disconnecting himself from their computer network to have a bit of privacy. Both these things are deemed selfish, with Bernard even being accused of solipsism over it. Everybody has an ocular implant (OI) which lets them see what other people do when they want, making it more an ubiquitous sousveillance.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: All New Londoners are "conditioned" for the roles they've been engineered into while children. Those who don't fit in later may be "reconditioned". Both have the goal of social peace and overall happiness.
  • Category Traitor: The "savage" rebels/terrorists view people who entertain New Londoners as being traitors and ruthlessly gun them down along with the tourists.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: New London has this aesthetic. All the buildings have sleek, futuristic looks and people dress in flowing garments while not at work (where they have more utilitarian garb, but still attractive). They at least claim it's perfect as well, with everyone living happy lives with clear places in life, everything provided to them and wise, benevolent rulers. However, it's quite empty on the inside.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series adds lots of violence which the book didn't have. First of all, some "savages" ruthlessly murder outsiders and some of their own whom they consider traitors for entertaining them. John here also more quickly uses violence than his book counterpart did, and incites others to.
  • Death by Adaptation: The Director is killed early on, whereas he lives in the book.
  • Designer Babies: All the people in New London are genetically engineered as zygotes to serve future social roles. The series opens on an image of an ovum being artificially fertilized, with it being shown as a future Beta (i.e. one caste), alongside the list showing them all.
  • Dehumanization: New Londoner tourists visiting the "Savage Lands" have a tour guide refer to said "savages" in terms very much like animals on a safari.
  • Disappeared Dad: John never knew his father, who left his mother after she became pregnant. When they do meet, it doesn't end well.
  • Driven to Suicide: An Epsilon is implied to have killed himself in the first episode. The case is considered at least officially as "accidents", because suicides are unfathomable for most New Londoners, as everyone's supposedly happy.
  • Dystopia: New London operates on a strict caste system, people take drugs constantly to take away any unhappiness, family has been abolished as everyone's artificially conceived, no one is supposed to have privacy or monogamous relationships and religion isn't something most even know about.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: In New London, casual sex and orgies are the norm, so it's justified. We get to see a fair amount of this.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Bernard comments that "savages" usually have an odd pickiness over gender in their sexual partners, implying in New London no one does (or at least isn't meant to). This is backed up by numerous orgies which show a lot of people switching between opposite- and same-sex pairings, along with Lenina's friend Frannie casually wanting a "tickle".
  • Eye Scream: In the last episode, C Jack cuts out his ocular implant.
  • False Utopia: New London is meant to be a utopia, and most of its citizens believe that. There's no crime, hunger or poverty, there's total free love, everyone has a place, and everybody's happy. However, this all turns out to have a very terrible cost: everybody is made to fit into a strict caste system, monogamy or intimacy beyond friendship isn't allowed, there's no privacy and their "happiness" is superficial, achieved through drugging the population, empty casual sex or other shallow public entertainment.
  • Fanservice Extra: A number of minor characters are shown nude and having sex in orgies.
  • Fantastic Caste System: New London is divided between those who live in luxury on the surface and those who work diligently in underground bunkers as the main source of labor. Every person is genetically engineered as embryos to fit into the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon castes (who also possess Plus or Minus variants) for specific roles.
  • Fantastic Drug: Soma, a small fish-egg like pill taken by everyone in New London which causes feelings of euphoria and happiness. Bernard hands them out like candy in his job as a Counselor. It turns out to come in various types that are designated by color.
  • Fish out of Water: The main conflict comes from John entering the world of New London after living in the outside world all his life. Naturally he has difficultly adjusting to a world where oppression is the cost of a peaceful and happy society.
  • Free-Love Future: A dark version, in which the people of New London are more than just allowed to have casual sex with anybody they like, but strongly encouraged to, with monogamy being socially forbidden. Lenina is reprimanded as she's had sex with the same man 22 times in a row, rather than moving on to someone else. Citizens are often seen participating in public sex and orgies, while unlike the book this also extends to same-sex couplings. STDs don't appear to exist, as someone must have what viruses were explained.
  • Friends with Benefits: Lenina and her friend Frannie seem to be like this, since the latter tries initiating sex with her, though she rejects it. Given the society's mores, it's probably most-even all-New Londoner friendships have this.
  • Future Imperfect: Most New Londoners no longer remember why anyone was monogamous, nor about the specifics of past people's customs. Thus, you have a man in dress resembling the Pope presiding over the mock wedding at the Savage Lands resort/theme park, among other examples (with the ceremonial words garbled). Only a few, like Mond, know more about the old times.
  • Gender Flip: Mustapha Mond, the male World Controller in the book, is now female.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: New Londoners are conditioned and drugged to always feel happy from birth. However, it doesn't work for everyone. When that happens they get reconditioned, drugged more, or exiled.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: New Londoners have all been conditioned to use the euphoric drug Soma whenever they feel unhappy or upset.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: John grows increasingly jealous of the men whom Lenina's slept with before, to the point that their relationship collapses.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: Being happy in New London isn't just a perk of living there, it's a requirement. If you aren't happy, the Counselors will do their utmost to make sure you become so by advising people to take more Soma or engage in casual sex, public entertainments, etc. Assuming that still fails, you may be "reconditioned" or banished to some other place.
  • The Hedonist: The entire society of New London (at least, they're supposed to be). Everyone is encouraged to have lots of casual sex, use soma (a euphoric drug) and party on their off time. If you don't (or are too monogamous about having sex), it's deemed subversive and you're in need of counseling to conform.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The series adds lots of sex scenes which weren't in the book (those were largely left vague, of course, since it was in 1932, and even so the novel received frequent bans), although it's justified in showing New London's libertinism.
  • Human Popsicle: It's revealed New London's founders were put in stasis while an AI they created made a (supposedly) better society on their behalf, which they ran after waking up. Mond turns out to be from the times before.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jessica Brown Findlay as Lenina appears having sex and or nude several times.
  • No Poverty: An obvious feature of New London's pseudo-utopia. There are no signs of poverty, which isn't a very big surprise given that everyone has a strict social role and gets all they need provided. However, standards of living vary, with the castes having amenities in descending order.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Mond and the Director muse that John is in (silent) prayer over his mother's body, and it's made clear they're among only a few New Londoners who still even know what this means. To drive home the point, Mond comments that "there was once a thing called 'God'", confirming they no longer have this belief.
  • Patricide: John accidentally kills his father, the Director.
  • The Purge: In the finale the Epsilons begin slaughtering the other castes when they rise up.
  • Race Lift: Mond has become a black woman, while some minor characters are also people of color. All the "savages" too are white (because it would no longer be acceptable portraying or describing Native Americans that way).
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Epsilons' uprising involves them attacking and stabbing everyone from a higher caste they can find to death.
  • Threeway Sex: Along with public orgies, threesomes appear to be common in New London (we see many happening). Lenina turns down an offer for one after she's grown discontented with her society's ways.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: The government of New London believes in all citizens being happy, by quite drastic means. Genetic engineering, psychological conditioning, drug use and sex without attachment are mandated for this.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: In the last episode, the Epsilons rise up to massacre the higher castes.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: John's mother arranges to have him sent to New London to have the life she believes he deserves. Once in their society it's shown that his very presence and refusing to conform with their society's norms is causing them huge problems.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: New London is meant to be a utopia where no one is unhappy or goes without. However, they do this by genetically engineering everyone, conditioning them from birth to fit into their castes, using euphoric drugs and having everyone engage in mindless recreation (especially constant casual sex). Family, privacy and religion have all been abolished to reach this end.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Those in control of New London will go to any lengths to preserve the peace they have created even at the cost of a society where you must be happy, your place is non-negotiable and pills are needed to keep everyone complacent.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: In New London, things which "savages" (or people now) take for granted, like having families, monogamous relationships or privacy are "selfish" and unacceptable.

This is your home now.