15 things you need to know about AMC’s Humans


By Josh Kaye

On June 28th, AMC’s newest show Humans made its North American debut to a solid audience of about 1.7 million people. While that isn’t quite the haul that a show like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or The Walking Dead would bring it, it’s a very respectable number considering there’s nothing leading into the show except maybe a Sunday movie marathon. What people will soon realize is that Humans may end up being the surprise hit of the summer. Humans explores a parallel world in which the line between man and machine is becoming blurred with the creation of Synths — a highly developed, artificially intelligent servant similar to humans.

Recently, NerdReactor was able to join in on a conference call with several various outlets to talk with writers Sam Vincent & Jonathan Brackley as well as co-stars Gemma Chan, Katherine Parkinson, Tom Goodman-Hill, and William Hurt. Throughout these interviews, the participants answered numerous questions regarding the ethics and morality of this technology, how the project came together,  how these people became their characters, and so much more. Here’s a list of 15 things to know about the first season of Humans and what’s to come and be sure to tune into AMC at 9:00PM every Sunday for new episodes.

Writers Sam Vincent & Jonathan Brackley

  • Humans isn’t an original idea from Sam Vincent & Jonathan Brackley, but a remake of a Swedish show titled Äkta Människor, which translate to Real Humans. The duo were approached by the British production company, Qdos, who they have worked with before. “We were approached by Qdos, the British production company that made the show, who we’ve worked with several times over the last two or three years. And they’d won the rights to remake the Swedish version – remake the Swedish show and they asked us if we were interested. And we watched the original and it was so full of wonderful and fascinating ideas that we jumped at the chance because we thought we could bring our own take to it.”
  • In talking about what was taken from the Swedish version of the show, Jonathan Brackley states that they based most of their characters on characters from the original show. As for the plot, a majority of plot from the pilot was taken from the Swedish show as well. “However we take ours in a completely different direction. So by the end of our series, all our characters are in a completely different place to where they are in the Swedish show. I think probably overall, generally our show is probably a bit darker than the original Swedish show. The material sort of lends itself to exploring sort of darker, seamier side of humanity I think.”
  • When creating the different Synth characters, Sam Vincent states that the writing would depend on the purpose in that world. Since Anita is meant to be a domestic model, she would function as a sort of house servant in the show. “Whereas someone like Vera, who’s introduced to look after George, is a lot more sort of overtly a carer Synth. And therefore has a bit more agency to try and look after his well being and his health and, you know, hopefully comic effect. “
  • Asked about their thoughts on the technology for Synth’s being close, Sam Vincent stated that the show tried to be neutral on the idea of this technology being either good or bad. “We wanted to show lots of good aspects of it, and lots of bad aspects of it and let the audience decide, to present it as neither a utopia nor a dystopia. But my own views on it are that humanity is only going in one direction. We are not going to suddenly slam on the brakes on technological progress.”

Gemma Chan (Anita)

  • It wasn’t all easy for Gemma Chan, who played Anita, the shows primary Synth. Chan commented that the characters who played Synth’s went to a “Synth Workshop” developed by choreographer Dan O’Neill. “It all boiled down to the fact that the Synths are ultimately machines, and every movement requires energy and essentially uses up battery power, so every move has to be economical and there’d have to be a reason why every move is the way it is. So, you know, like starting to – starting from scratch and learning how to walk again, really, so learning how to walk, and how to stand up and sit down and all of the basics.”
  • While the basic concept of the show focuses on robotics, it explores the humanity of using these Synths. “I think at the crux of the show is it really wants to explore what makes us human and really everything comes from that. It’s really about how it explores the blurring of the line between humans and machines and it really wants to explore the human condition and yet it uses the framework of the show and you know, the AI in the show and it really uses that to explore those themes.
  • As for if she would own a Synth herself, she probably wouldn’t buy one right away. She stated that she would probably cave but wouldn’t feel comfortable with the idea of having one around all the time. That being said, she does see the benefits. “it would probably make my life a lot easier in a lot of ways. I could, you know, it could do all kinds of things for me, because, you know, I’m quite disorganized in a way and I’m not very tidy, it could – you could absolutely throw out my wardrobe that would be amazing.”

William Hurt

  • When asked about what interested him in doing the show, William Hurt mentions that the title hooked him in right away. Once reading, he realized the show wasn’t just about humans, but about the human-machine dynamic. “It’s about a topic that I’ve been interested in most of my life. And then I started reading it and I realized it was full of character and good questions like the nature of this interview today, and the technology that we’re using to have it, which is so dislocating but at the same time, pretty interesting. So this is an example of why the series interested me.”
  • In talking about his character, Hurt talks about how George was involved with the engineering of the Synth’s bodies and mechanics but did not help create their mind. “He was involved in the engineering of the mechanics of the bodies but not the so called minds. And what he did was make a choice to remain human in the most fragile sense of the word, the most vulnerable sense of the word because he saw something in that experience though it was fraught with the worst risks any of us faced, the risk all of us face, morality itself, of realizing the potential, or his potential as a human being. “
  • Discussing the relationship with his character, George Millican, and his Synth Odi, Hurt mentions that Odi is a memory bank for George to remember his wife. When his wife passed away, George suffered what Hurt describes as a “cerebral malfunction”. “His wife passes away and then he suffers an anomaly, a cerebral malfunction and he loses some of his memory systems, which makes Odi, who was a robotic of the fundamental sort, not the sentient kind in the life that he had with his wife. And he, that robotic has all the memories of the event that took place while that robotic was part of their life. And that becomes George’s relationship to his wife.”
  • When asked if he would own a Synth himself, Hurt goes on to say that he really doesn’t know and would have to know more about the Synth he’s getting. “I wouldn’t know without knowing a lot more. And I think that’s sort of the key here, is to ask questions about this situation, that human beings are incorporating in the most literal sense, technology into their being. Whether or not, you would have a robotic in your home and what level – I should probably do this here – has a lot to do with what that robotic is, what it’s, what it’s equipped to do.”

Katherine Parkinson (Laura Hawkins) & Tom Goodman-Hill (Joe Hawkins)

  • Discussing working with actor Gemma Chan, both Parkinson and Goodman-Hill had to be more conscious of their movements since Gemma had to be very robotic. Parkinson said, “I could sort of start thinking, must be human, must be human. And then I thought no, that’s like when you get elderly actors playing old because they sort of don’t realize that they are, in fact, old. So I quickly stopped doing that and realized that I just had to be. The synthetics are the ones that have to create language. Our language is, thankfully, is already there.”
  • It’s clear both characters have differing opinions of Synth’s. Synth’s make Joe a bit more anxious, believing that they’ll one day take all human jobs, while Laura is doubtful about the presence of a Synth in her home fearing it will alter the family dynamic. Goodman-Hill describes what bringing a Synth into the household does to Joe, “Joe just kind of runs into it headstrong without really thinking about what he’s getting himself into. He’s forced to think about the sort of person he is which is not something he’s used to dealing with. He doesn’t intellectualize things, he’s not one to ponder about his own humanity and his own being. He just tends to take things at face value. The presence of Anita forces him to rethink his whole way of going about his life. It makes him think more about his relationship with Laura and about the impact it’s going to have on the kids, which is not something he’s been used to doing in the past. So it kind of knocks him sideways and makes him re-evaluate his life.”
  • When dealing with the family situation involving the Hawkins, Parkinson talks specifically about her recent experience of having a child and needing a nanny, “I felt it keenly because I had my newborn baby and my toddler at home. Obviously in my absence filming, needed to get some child care which I was, at once, extremely grateful for and also, slightly threatened by, how Laura is in the show by Anita when she reads to her daughter. I sort of thought, how great to have a synthetic nanny because she can’t love the child. But of course, the child can love the synthetic and that you would be threatened by. So yes, I felt like I was sort of being tortured at work.”
  • When Joe goes and rushes to get his family a Synth, it’s not something that he thinks clearly about. He doesn’t realize the effect a Synth would have on his family, not the way of how comfortable they’ll feel with it around, but how the Synth will show these people who they really are. As Goodman-Hill states, He thinks it’s going to solve lots of problems but what he’s not expecting, is to find that talking and engaging with Anita reflects back on himself and makes him sit up and think about the kind of person he is. He suddenly becomes self-aware in a way that he never has been before. That is actually beneficial to him. It’s a good thing to happen to happen to him. Although, as you’ll see, everything unravels in the show for the Hawkins family. Ultimately, it’s a good thing that’s happened to them. It’s made them sit up and think about the kind of people they are.
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