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Home TV Shows Reviews ‘Solos’ Series Review: Spectacle of a Futuristic Society

‘Solos’ Series Review: Spectacle of a Futuristic Society

Solos is a seven-part anthology series, where each story revolves around one top actor, playing a character who explores what their definitions of humanity are

Ritika Kispotta - Sat, 22 May 2021 11:13:06 +0100 917 Views
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Created and written or directed by, David Weil – showrunner of Amazon’s impressive but ethically erratic Hunters – Solos has attracted a plush cast. Solos is a dramatic and thought-provoking seven-part anthology series that explores the deeper meaning of human connection, as explored through the lens of the individual. Solos will tell unique character-driven stories, each from a different perspective and moment in time, that illuminate that even during our most seemingly isolated moments, in the most disparate of circumstances, we are all connected through the human experience.

Occasionally, the acting compensates for the writing’s stodgy archness. Mirren brilliantly conveys the smothered spark of a smart loner, as a 71-year-old who has realized that her wit and kindness have never been recognized and that this is her fault because she’s always shunned the difficult real-world and retreated to her inner life, “scared of being seen”. The outstanding episode – about a young woman, alone in a waiting room, freely disburdening herself of every physical and romantic humiliation she’s suffered – has a star turn from Constance Wu that flips from filthy hilarity to screaming grief, achieving the sort of raw intimacy that Solos is generally too mannered to allow.

Six of the seven episodes in “Solos” focuses on death and existential dread, and after the year we’ve had… it’s a lot. Though the goal is to discuss the unity of human existence, it’s hard to get from these episodes enough to make that connection — especially when the connection itself is so bland. The episode with Mackie’s character feels like a derivative take on the “Black Mirror” episode “Be Right Back,” which dealt with a woman getting a copy of her husband.

It could have been that what Weil and his writers wrote was just too dense and didn’t allow for any quiet moments. Even though the episodes more or less had just one actor, there still seemed to be segments designed precisely for monologuing and emoting, but there were no moments that let the performers, or their performances, breathe.

Sure, the episodes we saw were pretty naval-gazing, but that’s not what bothered us. What bothered us is that, when you have an actor talking into a camera and not to another physical presence, the whole exercise gets to look and sound dystopian at best. We don’t expect happy endings on a show like this, but it sure seemed like none of the characters were even destined for mediocre endings. And that gets old after a while.

And the last episode, with Freeman playing an elderly man named Stuart, holds a bit of a key to this parade of dirges. It’s Stuart’s voice we hear at the beginning of each episode, so he likely has something to do with all of these stories. But do we want to take the six-episode ride to find out that twist? Two episodes in and we’re not all that sure.

Solos emphasize human intimacy in various ways and hark back to brighter times. One episode closes with John Denver's ‘Back Home Again', another with David Bowie's ‘Space Oddity '. One segment uses Mozart's 40th Symphony as a background motif, and in another, a character likens the sound of the ocean waves to Beethoven's 6th Symphony and also evokes a song each by Elvis Presley and Stevie Wonder.

The solo “Solos” episodes aren’t outright boring because of the talent involved. An incredible cast narrates fragmented stories that sound more interesting than what’s on screen. The performances are worthwhile, but the show rarely breaks away from close-ups of extended monologues to create anything visually or thematically engaging. It references technology of the present, but it doesn’t have much to say about it. It’s easy to be moved by Hathaway, Mackie, Mirren, Wu, and Uzo Aduba crying and screaming. But too often the emotion is meant to carry a weak story.

Final Score – [6.2/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)

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