Netflix’s sci-fi series Altered Carbon shows a future, dystopian society that’s transformed by new technology. One’s consciousness can be digitized in a small, coin-like item called a “stack.” Human bodies are interchangeable and death is no longer permanent. Though it is set in the future, many of the sociopolitical themes are not that different from our present. In the show, only rich people can afford to be “meths” (as in Methuselah) and have the opportunity to live good — forever.
In Altered Carbon’s government, many women hold high political office, including Danica Harlan (played by Power‘s Lela Loren) who is the cutthroat governor of the planet Harlan’s World, where most of this season’s action takes place.
Shadow And Act sat down with Renée Elise Goldsberry, who plays rebellion leader Quellcrist Falconer, and Simone Missick, who plays bounty hunter Trepp, to ask them what the season could teach viewers about our current society and what needs to change.
“So the thing for me that left off the screen is the idea that depending on your socioeconomic status, you can live forever or you’re disposable,” said Missick. “I think that is something that we look at today with our healthcare system, with the way that we treat people of color, the homeless, immigrants, all of these people who are considered an other or not a part of the dominant group.”
Goldsberry directly compared the show to the 2020 election. “I think we’re choosing a leader, and we are shamefully uncomfortable with choosing a woman,” added Goldsberry. “…I think we need some examples of women in leadership roles to make that less of a leap, and we have them in Altered Carbon, in season 1 and season 2.”
“I think what’s really interesting is, for example…underneath it all, we all want the same thing. We want freedom, autonomy, peace, tranquility…collaboration, all of these things,” said Loren. “But it’s the strategy we use to get that either creates a peaceful society or a chaotic society…With a lot of our political leaders in life, you see them going for one noble idea, but at the expense of all these other human things.”
“What I like about the show is [that] here are so many deep philosophical angles that [are] being looked at and ultimately we have to come to a point…where we get away from a world that displays so much dehumanization,” said Torben Liebrecht, who plays Colonel Ivan Carrera. “…We look each other in the eye and realize that we’re all just fellow human beings and fellow souls. There is nothing that can separate us from each other.”
Dina Shihabi and Chris Conner, who play the AIs Dig 301 and Poe, both felt that this season’s quest of finding love was what made this season “beautiful.”
“…We’re just looking to, at some point, find intimacy and try to see the better angels in someone else,” said Conner. “Hopefully our society will steer that way eventually.”
Altered Carbon, led by Anthony Mackie, is streaming now.
Photo credit: Netflix