Follow TV Tropes

Following

Series / Upload

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/upload.jpeg
Forever is just, like, so long...
Advertisement:

Upload is a 2020 Amazon Prime original sci-fi sitcom by television icon Greg Daniels (The Office (US), King of the Hill).

By the year 2033, humans have developed the ability to upload themselves into their preferred choice of Artificial Afterlife. In Los Angeles, software engineer Nathan (Robbie Amell) is fatally injured in a self-driving car accident. His shallow girlfriend pressures him into agreeing to be uploaded to her family’s luxurious virtual heaven, Lakeview. Once there, he is greeted by Nora (Andy Allo), his customer service representative (or "Angel"), who appears as a holographic avatar while actually working in an office in Queens alongside other "Angels".

The series follows the two as Nathan grows accustomed to his imperfect afterlife with Nora's help, while the still-living Nora struggles to stay afloat.

Advertisement:

On May 8th 2020, a week after its release, it was renewed for a second season.


Upload provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: First aired in 2020, set in 2033. Self-driving cars are everywhere, food is usually 3D printed, instead of physical phones people have smartwatches that project screens in their hands - oh and there is an Artificial Afterlife (available to those that can afford it)
  • Advert-Overloaded Future: They'll even follow you into the afterlife!
  • Affably Evil: Nathan's neighbor in Lakeview, David Choak, is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who had the last living black rhino killed so they could program the taste for him to eat in Lakeview. But for all that, he's remarkably friendly.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played with. The AIs we see in the show generally seem to work as intended, but the AI in Nathan's car seemingly malfunctioned, leading to his crash. However, it's implied that this was a case of deliberate tampering by an outside party.
  • Advertisement:
  • A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll": In the pilot, Nathan helps his niece with her homework for "Classical Dance". The routine's song? The 2010 house hit "Like a G6" by Far East Movement.
  • Always Murder: Nora, Fran and Nora's dad all believe Nathan's death wasn't an accident. Nathan comes to believe this too, and Ingrid's conversation with her father seems to confirm this. Nathan's Corrupt Corporate Executive neighbor immediately guesses he was murdered after Nathan explains that he was working on a free way to upload people.
    David Choak: So you got murdered.
    Nathan: No, I was in a car accident.
    David: (laughing) Yeah sure. You just threatened a six-hundred-billion-dollar-a-year industry and no one murdered you.
  • Artificial Afterlife: You can have a digital copy of your consciousness uploaded to a corporately-owned afterlife. The process involves a scan of your brain (which results in an unfortunate case of Your Head A-Splode) ...and you have to be able to afford it.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Nathan is told he is "dying of a punctured lung" after his car accident. While a punctured lung is serious, it's rarely fatal, especially in someone otherwise young and healthy. This becomes somewhat justified when it's revealed that Nathan was in fact recovering before he was uploaded, but it still doesn't explain why a nurse was so quick to jump to it being a fatal injury.
  • Artistic License – Military: Nathan's fellow Upload Luke claims to have served active duty as a Corporal in Iran, but the rank on his dress blues is that of a first lieutenant.
  • The Atoner: Nathan, when he regains his memories.
  • Auto Erotica: Nathan and Ingrid do it in her car on the way home after Thanksgiving dinner at his parents'. Since everyone uses self-driving cars, this isn't a problem.
  • Automated Automobiles: They're the rule rather than the exception. Nathan likes shutting off his car's camera, plugging in a controller, and racing down the highway. He can usually talk his way out of a speeding ticket, since the car's AI can't confirm that he was driving manually. Cars can be set to follow another, such as when Nathan's car is following Ingrid's while they are engaged in Auto Erotica in her's.
    • However New Yorker Nora is pretty unused to them when she goes to Los Angeles.
  • Bad Boss: Lucy, the Horizen manager. She treats Nora with no respect, threatens to fire her, and refuses to give bonuses to her employees. Lucy also undermines the competence and abilities of her employees when they deal with pushy customers in order to make herself look better.
  • Black Market: A digital version called "The Grey Market" exists on the fringes of Lakeview. Among other things, you can buy celebrity memories and avatar modifications.
  • Black Sheep: Ingrid. The only point of sympathy with her character is that her two siblings and both her parents treat her like she's second rate.
  • Brain Uploading: An afterlife has been created by means of uploading people's minds into an immense shared server. It's a profitable industry.
  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: Many real-life corporations have combined together and become market dominators, for example Google-Samsung.
    • Notably, Amazon is one of the few mega corporations to not be name-checked. However there are obvious reasons for that...
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Jack Kanneman, Ingrid's dad who secretly paid Nathan for the code for Beyond to create his own version, and then was somehow involved in getting Nathan killed afterward.
    • Nathan’s neighbor, David Choak, was one in life, but dying and being allowed to enjoy the fruits of his labor in Lakeview seems to have mellowed him out considerably.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Lakeview is explicitly billed as being Heaven, an eternity of living in a beautiful luxury resort with all your needs met. In practice, it's full of annoying pop-up ads, getting food means either constantly paying for it or being beholden to an extremely strict schedule, and the constant Uncanny Valley vibe of the AI servants slowly drives everyone insane.
  • Crapsack World: The "2Gig" section of Lakeview. The living space resembles a hospital ward with virtually no decorations, amenities are nonexistent and the food is provided by Lean Cuisine to test flavors for the living. When the 2 gigabytes of data is used up, the user is frozen in place for the rest of the month, or until someone provides more data. When Nathan and Nora first visit it, they see a boy trying to kill time by reading the first five pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, since the full book would cost money.
  • Dating Service Disaster: The app Nitely appears to be a Bland-Name Product version of Tinder, except no one is under any illusion that it's a dating app. It's for hookups and that's it, and people get rated for their performance. Nora and her roommate use it, and neither seems weirded out by the roommate and her date going at it a few feet away from Nora (although she's in VR at the time). Nora ends up getting matched to the same sleazy guy twice. The guy has multiple accounts and uses fake photos to trick women. He also lies when he says that they will talk after sex. His version of it is "have a quick chat while getting dressed immediately after and asking for 5 stars". In addition, partners wear body cams as a form of legal protection, as both clearly speak their consent to engage in sex.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Mildred's avatar looks like she stepped right out of a black and white film, having been based on a more than sixty year-old photograph of what she looked like in her 30's (or possibly what her sister looked like — no one is sure if they got the right photo). Her greyscale coloring makes her stand out in the lushly colored environs of Lakeview.
  • Different for Girls: Dylan's attitude to women noticeably changes after his "puberty hack" ordeal.
  • Disappeared Dad: Nathan's dad left him when he was young.
  • Domestic Abuse: They're not in the same plane of existence but because she is paying for Lakeview, Ingrid ultimately has complete control over Nathan. She even threatens to delete him at his own funeral, which she later brushes off as just kidding.
  • Elevator Failure: Nathan remotely hacks an elevator to wildly move up and down when Nora is being chased by an assassin. Results in a Gory Discretion Shot.
  • Enforced Plug: Companies can pay a premium to have Lakeview's Angels do this for their products. Fortunately, the residents can fast-forward it.
  • Everything Is Online: In 2033, you can remotely hack an elevator.
  • Evil Luddite: How evil is a mystery, but Luddite groups opposed to the afterlife exist and are described by news broadcasts as terrorists. When Nora needs to lay low, her father arranges for Nora to stay with them.
  • First-Name Basis: Residents aren't supposed to know the names of their "angels", and angels are supposed to address the residents by their title and last name. But Nora tells Nathan her name after she interrupts his suicide attempt in the pilot.
  • Foreshadowing: Nora is introduced watching 50 First Dates, and later falls in love with someone with gaps in their memory.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: In the pilot, it's explained that a lot of the architecture is designed to appear palatable to the Lakeview residents. There are millions of people uploaded to Lakeview, and well over 10,000 virtual floors. From outside the building, residents can only see five floors. It looks like a quaint hotel beside a lake, not a towering digital skyscraper.
  • Friend to All Children: Nathan gets along very well with his niece and with Dylan, another resident of Lakeview who was uploaded when he was 12.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: 3D printing of food is commonplace for the masses. Nathan's young niece is surprised by her dinner at Ingrid's house containing actual bones.
  • Gender Bender: In an attempt to update his avatar to his chronological age, Dylan has a black market "puberty hack" installed. It works, but because he didn't think to check what sex the patch was designed for it also turns him into a young woman.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: Lakeview's processing power is immense but it isn't infinite, and computer glitches occasionally result. A man is shown to glitch out when diving into the lake due to the processing load of the immense number of people in the program, birds occasionally glitch out in midair, and the sunshine on the lake is a .gif that repeats a touch too fast to be immersive. In one episode, when a Luddite attempts to destroy Lakeview’s servers, the significantly reduced processing power renders the residents akin to Minecraft characters, but they soon revert to normal when the servers are restored.
  • Hot Guys Are Bastards: This is the expectation that Nora and Aleesha have of Nathan.
  • Idiot Hair: When uploading Nathan's avatar, Nora leaves in a cowlick in his avatar's hair. But she quietly removes it once she gets to know him a little.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Used to communicate that Nora's dad is seriously ill during his introduction. We later find out he's got a serious condition known as "Vape Lung."
  • Indecisive Parody: The mystery of who killed Nathan and why is often used to mock Ontological Mystery shows with characters pointing out how needlessly obtuse and complicated it is, but at the same time Nathan and Nora's investigation itself is treated mostly seriously.
  • Insistent Terminology: Residents aren't supposed to know the names of their customer service representatives and are told to just call them "Angel".
  • Interrupted Suicide: Nathan attempts this in the first episode but Nora's impassioned pleas to get him to give the digital afterlife a chance make him reconsider.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Ingrid usually comes across as very shallow and self-centered, but occasionally shows that she's got a good heart buried deep (deep) down. There is a definite hint that she downgraded Nathan's "accident" to a non-fatal one that left him with survivable injuries, so she could get him uploaded because the next murder attempt might be one she couldn't interfere with.
    • Nathan sold out his best friend to Ingrid's father, but it was for the sake of getting money for his family, who aren't very well off, and he's shown to be a pretty nice guy on the whole.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Lucy begins to loosen up during the holiday party a bit, and tops it off with an announcement everyone on the staff is getting bonuses. Except she was just kidding, no one is getting bonuses, and she is quick to remind everyone to be at work the next day at 7:00am sharp. Her tone implies she thought the joke about bonuses was hilarious.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: While it's possible to have sex with other VR users or uploads, it requires people to put on "sex suits", which look like they're filled with rubber gloves inside. Ingrid freaks out when she visits a suit rental place and runs off. She eventually rents one to sleep with Nathan and actually enjoys the experience, although waking up in her bathtub isn't that much fun. These suits are also used to allow kids to hug their uploaded grandparents, but the most common use is sex.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: As a result of the accident and improper uploading, part of Nathan's memories were damaged, leaving him with gaps in his memories.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Nathan is having trouble getting it up when Ingrid finally rents a sex suit and visits him in Lakeview. She assumes it's a tech issue, but he is actually having second thoughts about their relationship. Nora is able to get him hard by touching his chest, but she is annoyed that he then used on Ingrid rather than her.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Ingrid's openly antagonistic interactions with her family suggest that her desperation to hold on to Nathan is because he is the only source of positive connection she has, and the only "real" thing in her life.
  • Ludd Was Right: Downplayed with regards to uploading: It isn't presented as a bad thing in concept, but the fact that it exists in a hyper-capitalist society creates a lot of problems. Nathan creating a freely available version is presented as an unambiguously good thing.
  • Meaningful Name: Nathan's niece. Nevaeh is "Heaven" spelt backwards, tying into the afterlife theme of the show.
  • Microtransactions: An Artificial Afterlife with "In-App Purchases" for things like the hotel's minibar.
  • Missing Mom: Nora's mother died a few years before the series. As it was sudden, she was not uploaded.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Mildred, who was over 100 years old when she was uploaded, takes a liking to Luke.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: David Choak is a barely even veiled stand-in for David Koch, an American billionaire who died less than a year before the show premiered.
  • Possible War: Based on a throwaway comment by Luke, the US has actively gone to war with Iran at some point in the 2020s.
  • Older Than They Look: Some of the Lakeview residents have this going for them, for better or worse.
    • Mildred, Ingrid's grandmother, who is well into her hundreds, but her avatar is based on a photo of her in her thirties.
    • Dylan died at age 11 but is chronologically 18 and stuck that way. It’s implied his parents could age his body to that of an adult, but refuse to.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: It's implied that few people still believe in the spiritual afterlife. Most prefer the artificial version. Nora considers her father to be weird for wanting to join her mother in the Christian Heaven. She would much rather her father upload himself into Lakeview, so she could visit him.
  • Redheads Are Uncool: AI Guy, the Lakeview AI read-headed avatar, gets the least respect of any character in the show. His mannerisms alternate between a bumbling, harried hotel staffer overwhelmed by the requests of the guests and an awkward AI who doesn't understand the subtleties of human interaction.
  • Rich Bitch: Ingrid, though a slightly more sympathetic version.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Nora's co-worker Aleesha. She's Luke's Angel, but in practice they're Sitcom Archnemeses. She steals his fingers when he makes her mad, and threatens to steal other parts of him if he runs out of fingers.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Nora is introduced, she is watching 50 First Dates over another woman's shoulder on the subway. She watches it on her VR headset later in the episode.
    • One of the places of worship available in Lakeview is a bowling alley.
    • In the first episode, a character looks at various meme pictures, which are all from shows Greg Daniels worked on in the past.
    • When Nathan is assigned the task of meeting five new people in Lakeview by his therapist, the checklist is called The Five People You Meet In Upload
    • Nora has a date with her Nitely fling in a restaurant called Asimov.
    • In one episode, there's a poster that says "Oprah/Kamala 2024"
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Nora and Nathan fall in love with each other, even though this is banned by Horizen policy.
  • Take That!: Lots of them, mainly targeted at big corporations like Horizen.
  • Talking Animal: Turns out "Pet Therapy" in Lakeview involves this. They're voiced by living Horizen psychologists.
  • Techno Dystopia: While the world has created an artificial afterlife and used 3D printing to solve world hunger, the divide between the haves and have-nots is more pronounced than ever. While most of the focus is on the varying qualities of the virtual afterlife and how they’re directly tied to the income of the deceased and their families, numerous examples show things aren’t exactly great for the living outside of the elites. A minor example shows Christmas, Hanukkah, and other similar holidays combined into a single day, which employees still are expected to report to work for.
  • Toilet Humour:
    • As Lakeview is the "perfect" afterlife, Nathan discovers that no matter where he aims, his stream always lands in the urinal. He proceeds to have some fun wiggling the stream back and forth, running around the bathroom, and eventually jump-roping the stream.
    • The digital avatars are programmed with the totally unnecessary need to fart. Their farts can be programmed to smell like cologne or fresh cinnamon rolls.
  • Video Phone: Obviously the technology already existed when the show was made, but by 2033 regular phone calls are enough to make characters surprised and/or suspicious that they've been put on "voice-only".
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: As you need to be alive to be scanned, and the scanning process destroys your head, the whole uploading process can be viewed as this. Most people are scanned when very elderly or otherwise on the verge of death.
    • However, Iran veteran Luke lived for five years with the loss of his legs, before opting for a "sui-scan".
    • Of course, the whole process arguably inverts this by extending a person's conscious life.
  • Wham Line: Ingrid, at the end of the first season.
    Ingrid: I uploaded for you.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Nora has a lot of trouble convincing her dad to agree to be uploaded to a digital afterlife when he thinks it couldn't be heaven without her mother there.
  • World of Jerkass: The real world is shown as being full of passive aggressive snobs to give contrast to the artificially upbeat and corporately-controlled afterlife. Only Nora and Nathan come across as something resembling decent people with depth and compassion.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Ingrid is revealed to have cheated on Nathan, several times. Not that Nathan cares that much, as he is fast falling for Nora.
  • Your Head A-Splode: The first attempt to download an uploaded person back into a physical body ends with the subject's head rather dramatically exploding on live television.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report