Robocopulate

David Fincher’s New Netflix Animated Sci-Fi Anthology Series for Horny Guys Who Hate Women

The “episodes” in Love, Death + Robots, a new animated sci-fi anthology show on Netflix, range in length from seven minutes to nearly 20. This makes them bingeable, but it really feels more like a binge + purge. The opening sequence, a kind of cyberpunk version of the Hugh Jackman movie Real Steel, contains several gory impalings. It also features at least 10 uses of the word “cunt” and a lesbian sex scene where we only see the hot blonde’s boobs. That lesbian sex scene also includes two more impalings and two additional uses of the word “cunt.”

With that, the producers establish the show’s tone. Tired of not seeing your lurid space rape-revenge fantasies come to life? Have I got a stream for you.

One of those producers of  Love, Death + Robots, David Fincher, gave us Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box more than 20 years ago. He doesn’t seem to have improved his opinion of women since then.  Given the content of the show, his co-producer, Tim Miller, must be a sexually-frustrated teenager who sketches alien boobies in his Language Arts journal. Let me tell you, this show contains a lot of boobies.

Love, Death + Robots + Boobies + Impaling

In one episode that sort of remixes Passengers and The Matrix, a sorrowful space captain gets zapped into a faraway galaxy. There, an ex-lover, or so he thinks, awaits him with her fabulous boobies. In another sequence, what starts out seeming like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon quickly becomes a hard-R Kubo And The Two Strings. A half-fox lady-spirit has, you guessed it, nice boobies. The story gets all steampunk and she turns into a robot-lady-spirit who also has boobies and gasps while undergoing robot surgery. Really, madam, the pleasure is all ours.

Across the universe, we witness many beheadings, behandings, gratuitous “motherfuckers”, and other bits and pieces of pulp melodrama. In one sequence, niftily animated in a sort of hell-Tokyo of the mind, a woman witnesses a terrible murder. She runs away to her job where she performs exotic dances in front of a roomful of people who pop amyl nitrate while wearing full-body rubber fetish suits. Then she flees through the streets of the city, flashing her boobies and also her pubic triangle. She’s a Ghost In The Shell In The Sex Club.

As you might have guessed, David Fincher didn’t make this show for children. It pretty much redefines “adult animation”. Quite deliberately, it takes on the tone and attitude of pulp sci-fi magazines and cartoons from the 70s. Every tale contains an ironic twist or two. Things rarely turn out well.

Some of the animation feels like cheesy interstitial material from bad action video games. But more of it feels creative and fun. The show mixes up its look, veering from hyper-realism to super-cartoony. Love, Death + Robots doesn’t suffer from a poverty of visual imagination; it’s visually memorable, even occasionally iconic. It simply lacks morality, in every way.

Few people want a PC sci-fi anthology show that involves sitting around and discussing intersectionality and gender identity. Action is good, sleaze is fine. But do we really need more than one 15-minute episode whose plot revolves around gang-rape revenge? Even a supposedly cute Mad Magazine-style piece about going back in time and killing Hitler devolves into a bizarre reverie about Interstellar Female Sex Fiends. What constitutes writing here, and what’s whacking material?

I enjoyed three segments in Love, Death + Robots. The first, based on a short story by John Scalzi, features goofy robots, some of the few who actually appear in this show, on vacation after a strange event has wiped out human civilization. It’s like Wall-E for grownups.  In the second, a live-action short starring Topher Grace and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, a young couple discovers a lost civilization living inside an antiquated refrigerator in their rental apartment. I also didn’t mind a silly little number about a sentient strain of yogurt that takes over human civilization.

What could be the common denominator of all these? Well, they contain zero beheadings. And there’s not a boobie to be seen anywhere. In a collection like this, I noticed the exclusion.

Sci-fi and fantasy cheesecake have their place, mostly as historical documents. Many a person fell in lust with Barbarella back in the day. But this show doesn’t have the innocent playfulness of another time. It was made right now, and released just last Friday. They made this show for the incels and the edgelords who want all the dystopia of Black Mirror, but without that show’s natural sense of modernity and inclusiveness. Good luck to them. If anyone tries to Netflix this gory bang-fest on a date, there definitely won’t be any chill.

 

Neal Pollack

Book and Film Globe Editor in Chief Neal Pollack is the author of ten semi-bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction, including the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch, the novels Repeat and Downward-Facing Death, and the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature. He's written articles and humor for every English-language publication except The New Yorker. Neal lives in Austin, Texas, and is a three-time Jeopardy! champion.

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