The Emmys aren't often associated with surprise. Usually, the most popular shows and performances from the previous season of television are nominated, so it's not often that a series comes out of nowhere and sweeps categories for writing and acting. In a twist that rivals those in the show in question, that's exactly what happened with Mr. Robot , which was nominated for six Emmys for its inaugural season. Despite critical acclaim, the show flew under many people's radars, likely due in part to it airing on USA, a network more often associated with procedurals like Burn Notice and Suits than envelope-pushing psychodramas like Mr. Robot. While it's a strong contender at the Emmys, many viewers will likely still be going into the 2016 ceremony asking, "What is Mr. Robot even about?"
The first thing you need to know about Mr. Robot is this — don't look up anything about the show online, because you will be spoiled. Mr. Robot has some of the biggest plot twists in recent television history, and the reality of the show is constantly in question. The twists that are made apparent by the end of Season 1 become major themes throughout Season 2, so the best thing to do if you want to know more about the series is stream Mr. Robot on Amazon Prime, where all of Season 1 is currently available. If you'd like to know a little more about the show before giving it a chance, however, here is a spoiler-free overview of the many things that Mr. Robot is about.
Mr. Robot Is About Hacking
The central focus of the series is the hacker group fsociety, and how main character Elliot Alderson joins them in an attempt to make some change in the world. While Elliot spends a lot of time working a day job in cybersecurity and getting high with his drug dealer/sort-of girlfriend, he also enjoys looking behind the scenes at the way the world works. The very first scene of Mr. Robot shows him confronting a coffee shop owner he hacked, as he discovered that this humble coffee shop owner also ran an online child pornography ring. The owner begs Elliot not to tell anyone, even offering money. Elliot's response? "I don't give a sh*t about money," he says, as the cops show up to arrest the pedophile.
Mr. Robot Is About Capitalism
If Fsociety are the good guys, a band of outcasts that seeks justice through unsavory means, then Evil Corp are the bad guys. In reality, they're called E Corp, but all the characters refer to the organization as Evil Corp for reasons that become obvious as the show goes on. Elliot refers to the business conglomerate as "the guys that play God without permission." E Corp, though responsible for many evils, are important to Elliot for one reason — decisions they made led to Elliot's father getting cancer, a crime for which they were not punished. Fsociety exploits capitalism and criticizes it, all with the goal of making the American economy — and Evil Corp — crumble so that the world can begin again.
Mr. Robot Is About Mental Health
Mr. Robot deals with some pretty massive themes that affect the entire world, but those issues are matched throughout the series with Elliot's very personal stakes — wanting to be well. Elliot suffers from a series of mental disorders for which he sees a therapist and self-medicates with morphine. Often throughout the series, Elliot and many of the strong supporting characters' only true goal is to be happy. Whether it's by subscribing to capitalism, rejecting it, trying to hack the world, trying to rule the world, or simply escaping the world with a dear friend and a copy of Back To The Future Part II, they all just want to be happy.
With the Emmys coming up, popular award prediction site GoldDerby believes that Rami Malek is the top contender for Best Actor In A Drama Series, slightly above Kevin Spacey for House of Cards. It's odd to imagine a fundamentally anti-establishment show being honored by such a major awards show, but there's just no denying how well-crafted Mr. Robot is. As the first season goes on, its world continues to grow. Then the second season flips the whole premise on its head and gives most of the action of the series not to Elliot, but to the series incredible roster of supporting stars, including his childhood friend Angela, fellow hacker Darlene, and FBI agent Dom.
There's a chance that Mr. Robot might go home empty-handed on Sunday night, but with the Emmys and the Season 2 finale airing within the same week of each other, there's no better time to catch up on this captivating series.
Images: Nadav Kander/USA Network; Giphy (3)