Upload is the perfect blend of serious and silly while challenging audiences to examine the deepest of issues. Creator/writer Greg Daniels has weaved in a slight first-person feel to the series while crafting some of his best work to date. While The Office or Parks and Recreation was a ton of fun, rarely was the show ever thought-provoking. Daniels’s latest project showcases an evolution in his writing. The frivolous moments in Upload are what will draw audiences in, but the heart of this story will keep them watching.
Upload is set in the future. In this reality, the world has developed the technology to take your conscience and send it to “virtual” heaven. In this world, companies are competing with another in hopes of attracting the highest number of uploads. The promise of never leaving your loved ones and staying connected years later is a massive concept to process. Where the show takes a compelling turn is when the merits of a digital afterlife are debated. Does the promise of material things once you pass outweigh the idea of faith?
Nathan (Robbie Amell) doesn’t like the idea of having to pay for these things and is attempting to create a free place to upload yourself to when he dies in a car crash. He finds himself in Lakeview, a digital afterlife for the wealthy thanks to Ingrid’s (Allegra Edwards) family. This is where we are first introduced to Nora (Andy Allo), who is his “Angel” but is more life his digital technical support who helps him with this transition. Faced with the option to do just about anything or eat whatever he wants, what’s striking is how unhappy Nathan is. It certainly causes one to question if a predetermined paradise is worth it.
Building on that point, Daniels has created a digital afterlife where there’s a class system. In Lakeview, anyone can have what they want for a price. The more money you have, the better of someone is. One of the sadder moments is when they go down to what is referred to as the 2G rooms, which are bland and gray. In this world, it’s as if heaven and cell phone plans have become the same.
Robbie Amell and Andy Allo are perfect onscreen. Their chemistry is what drives this series and proves once again that casting is everything. Amell indeed sells the sillier moments during the first season and can convey Nathan’s sense of loss at not getting to realize his purpose. Allo comes across as authentic and longs to find her direction in life. What starts as a job becomes much more and provides a distraction from her dad’s medical issues. Amell’s Nathan and Allo’s Nora are two lost souls who find each other under unique circumstances.
The series thrives on its seamless integration of creativity mixed with technology’s practical applications. I loved how police officers are now powered by drones and how phones project from our wrists. My only critique of the series is that backstory behind Nathan’s demise, and eventual Upload felt at times forced. Overall, season 1 of Upload is one of the best new series of 2020. The show is tons of fun and will likely spur conversations that some usually might avoid.