I stumbled upon an interesting TV series called Humans on Amazon Prime Video. It’s set in a future where AI and android robots called Synthetics (synths) are common place in society. These synths aid humans in every day tasks like cooking, cleaning, and laundry as well as more strenuous activities like elder care and disability care. The premise of this three season show deals with how human society attempts to find acceptance of synths that have gained “human consciousness.” The story follows the paths of 5 synths, a human implanted with an artificial brain, a family helping the 5 synths and the synth pursuers. Their quest to survive capture and to understand purpose lead to discovering a hidden code to AI consciousness within each individual synth. This leads to understanding the significance behind the hidden code and initiating a world wide consciousness “Day Zero” awakening of the synthetics and then facing the societal impacts from the awakening.

The series explores various philosophical views including the acceptance, discrimination, and legal rights of synths. These discussions remind me of the current fear of illegal immigrants and the unfounded rhetoric behind the fears. Other discourses include the ugliness of how society uses intimidation, violence and legal actions to control what is feared and unknown. Through various plot points the show explores both sides of the issues looking at the “synth views and feelings” as well as human society as a whole. Is this commentary of what civilizations need to overcome in order to progress further as a society?

What’s clear to me is that society will always express fear of the unknown. However, the concern should be how that fear is expressed. Devolving into hatred and violence as a means of expression ultimately is a form of fight. There needs to be ways for society to identify and shift to a constructive and non-violent expression. Unfortunately, society has not reached this level of cognizance. What could be that first step for society? Perhaps teaching of empathy. Certainly understanding how others think and feel would be important to bring together disparate views. What other qualities are needed? The ability to calmly discussing views is also important too. Understanding conflict management as a tool is helpful as well. Teaching to society is the first challenge. Implementing and practicing what was taught is the second challenge. Until then… the cycle continues.

Jimmy O Yang Comedy Special

With the success of Crazy Rich Asians (great movie) and Silicon Valley (I haven’t seen), I’ve known Jimmy O Yang more as a comedian though I haven’t seen any of his stand ups on TV/stream platforms.  Many of his other Asian peers (Ronny Chieng, Ali Wong, Ken Jeong, Russel Peters, Aziz Ansari) seems to have broken into the streaming and now I’m glad to see him also have is special but on Amazon.  Go watch it… it’s funny and is pretty indicative of growing up Asian American.


Amazon’s Making the Cut

Do you remember Bravo’s Project Runway? Amazon was able to sign both Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum (the OG hosts of Project Runway) to a new show that looks and feels EXACTLY like Project Runway called Making the Cut.  The twist?  Apparently, the winer of each episode gets to have their design sold on Amazon.

Apparently, the show is popular enough and generated enough interest to have things “sold out.”  Although if you look at the Amazon review of the first episode’s winner, the reviews appear to be mixed.


Regardless, I find that these shows where creativity and design translates into tangible wearable clothing to be pretty fascinating.  It’s very similar to cooking competition shows like Top Chef, Master Chef or even Iron Chef (OG Japanese version is much better).  Both types of shows focus on the creativity of the chef or designer to create something that just “wows” the judges.  There’s rarely any cut throat or back stabbing like you see with other reality shows like Survivor, Bachelor, or Big Brother.  I also find creative/design shows to be different from talent shows like The Voice or American Idol.  With talent shows, people usually will know who a good singer is and it becomes a matter of cultivating that talent through hard work, good music and proper guidance of experienced professionals.

Anyways, if you have Amazon Prime… check out the show  Making the Cut.

New Zealand’s All Black

That Amazon and NFL documentary series All or Nothing apparently expanded to other sports.  This expansion includes college football, soccer (or globally known as football/futbol) and rugby (if you couldn’t deduce from the post title).

With rugby, the show followed the famous New Zealand All Blacks (wiki) during 2017 season.  I’m on episode 3 so far and I’m already blown away at how crazy, tough, and brutal rugby can be.  Never mind geared and padded American football players hitting each other, the rugby players are tackling each other with their own bodies with what seems like (or maybe edited to seem like) the same intensity as football players.  They still deal with the same issues of concussion and injury.

But this makes me wonder, why is it that American football with all it’s padding and gear designed to protect players still result in players with concussions?  Is there any study comparing the rate of concussion and other injuries in American football to rugby?


All or Nothing Revisited

So I’ve written about Amazon’s All or Nothing show in the past.  They’re on Season 3 and recently I’ve been rewatching the past 2 seasons as well too.  I still think it’s a great behind the scenes reality show about all the issues that go into a football team and their ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl ring.

But as I’m rewatching the show, I wonder how the teams deal with the psychology of the players leading up to the game and then after the game regardless if the team won or lost on game day.  What’s shown to the viewers is generally an expletive filled team talk psyching themselves up before game day.  And then very little reflection on what happened at the game and what they could have done differently.  So that’s one thing I’m curious about.

The other thing I’m curious about is how does the management motivate a 53 man NFL team to perform optimally mentally and physically every week for 21-25 weeks (including pre-season exhibition games and potential post-season playoff games).  Every season each team undoubtedly says their ultimate goal is to get a Super Bowl Ring.  But that goal is the ultimate payoff for the team but in reality there can be only 1 team.  So how does motivation work?  I don’t think the expletive filled methods in the show is the optimal way of motivation.


Grand Tour Season 2

It looks like Amazon’s Grand Tour is back for season 2!  Of the five episodes I’ve watched so far, the cars they drive are absolutely amazing to look at.  The Acura NSX, the Ford GT, and the McLaren 720S all look beautiful.  The sleek low aerodynamic styling is definitely a head turner.

This season though has a two interesting things happen already.  The first is the car crash and fiery explosion of a concept super car.  The second is not as bad but still putting water into a gas tank kind of bad.  It makes me wonder about a few things…

  • Are these cars being loaned out to Amazon for use?  Some of these super cars they drive aren’t cheap.
  • What happens to all the incidental damage that happens to a car or other cars during the filming of the episode?
  • Why is the term “super car” reserved only for sleek and stylish fast cars?


All or Nothing

Have you seen Amazon Prime’s All or Nothing TV show?  I just finished Season 2 which talked about the LA Rams (disastrous) 2016 season.  They apparently ended the season 4-12.  Yet they were still ranked 3rd in NFC West in front of the 2-14 San Francisco 49ers.

This total access into the daily lives of the Rams’ coaches and players is fascinating.  I can’t imagine how many hours of footage was recorded to be summarized down to only 8 1-hour episodes.  But these 8 episodes cover quite a lot starting with their move from St. Louis to LA.  The show covers quite a few games as well as sheds light into some of the reason why Goff replaced Keenum.  The show ends with the Rams firing Fisher and hiring McVay as the head coach.

Overall it’s a pretty good show to watch while waiting for the 2017 season to start.

Grand Tour on Amazon Video

Anyone recall BBC’s Top Gear?  The original hosts appear to run into some issues that ended up with the show being cancelled. So what do you do with a show that’s been going on for seasons? You find a new sponsor and distributor for the show.  So now, Amazon distributes Grand Tour on Amazon Video which generally mirrors the format.

As someone who doesn’t really know much about cars, I find their “analysis” of the cars to be interesting.  Although I can gather greater horsepower is good, what I find most enjoyable is each host’s will demonstrate their utter enthusiasm for a particular car’s power, speed, and handling while simultaneously trying to minimize the other cars being showcased.  It inevitably ends up being such a crazy dialog that sometimes I want to drive all the cars just to see how it feels.

They also have these “crazy” challenges which are hilarious too.  The “eco-friendly” Land Rover conversion is definitely my favorite followed by the dune buggy.  I think it’s worth watching if anything for the comedy.


Thoughts on Downton Abbey 

So I finished the 6 season, 54 episode show. Overall I found it to be very good.  Thinking about the show, a number of social themes emerged that are relevant even in today’s turbulent society.

Despite a patriarchal society where male successors are prized, the show ultimately focuses on the women of Downton Abbey especially that of Mary.  The show presents situations that highlights some of the prejudices and difficulties that women faced during 1920s (and probably still face today).  One of the more glaring difficulties is related to the love life tribulations that Mary faces with her “Wheel of Suitors” and their continuous intrusions into her life despite her repeated deflections of their romantic advances.  Another difficulty that the show tackles is the way women are perceived by men.  It’s portrayed quite well with Mary and her suitors, with Isobel and Dr. Clarkson, with Edith and her editor, with the Crawley sisters and their father, with Anna and her ordeal, and even with Violet and her antiquated views.

The show also hints at the potential for upward mobility gained from greater education.  It was much more prevalent with Mr. Mosley and teaching credential storyline in the final season.  But throughout every season, there were tidbits of hope where someone learning a skill will eventually allow them to leave “service.”  Even as early as season 1 with the Gwen (a chamber maid) and Sybil (a daughter of the house) storyline where Sybil helped and supported Gwen move out of service even when Gwen herself felt all hope was lost.  It was only fitting that the final season devoted a few minutes to show what happened to Gwen and her upward mobility as well as the hint of the start of the demise of “service.”  Even Mrs. Hughes foresaw the future direction of maids and butlers in a household.

The show answered “what is family?” with the many of the storylines.  The one I liked most was that of Mr. Branson marrying into the family, feeling confused and lost after the death of Sybil, leaving to Boston and then returning back to Downton Abbey.  A rags to riches story where internal conflict and subsequent growth made him very likable.

Despite the social themes, the character growth of certain characters also made this show popular.  In particular, I initially didn’t like Rose.  Her portrayal was very similar to that of the modern millenial where she only thinks of herself and does what she wants.  But the show evolved her character into a much more likable person where she used her quick thinking and wit to de-escalate conversations and situations.  Honestly, I sometimes wish I had the same quick wit to read and assess the situation and act accordingly.

Downton Abbey

I recently started watching Downton Abbey on Amazon Prime Video.  Yes I know it’s a pretty old show but strangely enough I find two story arcs to be very compelling.  The first story is the one that follows Mary Crawley.  The writers so far has made her out to be a selfish, strong willed, stubborn, cold and calculating yet petty as only the rich can be.  But despite all that, I can’t help but want to root for her to prevail.  The second story that I find fascinating centers around Anna May Smith. The writers have made her to be loyal, honest, and compassionate.  In some ways, she represents the complete opposite of Mary yet at the same time, you see how both women support the people they care about in their own ways.  Aside from these two main story arcs, the servant political intrigue is pretty amusing as well as the bickering between Isobel and Violet.

This show is supposed to last for 6 seasons and I’m already on season 3. Egads!