Love, Death & Robots, a Netflix Original, combines thought-provoking content with varied animated stylings to produce a succinct Black Mirror-esque anthology.
Love, Death & Robots is different from but has enough in common with Black Mirror that I’d call them cousins rather than siblings.
Created by Tim Miller and produced by David Fincher, this series provides you with 18 incredible episodes that vary in genre, tone, message, and style. The longest episode is 17 minutes, while the shortest is only six, but each one feels like a rich, fully-realized story that’s come to life right before your eyes.
If you’re looking for shows like Black Mirror, this is definitely one you should jump into.
While Black Mirror‘s episodes are much longer and typically deal with humanity’s relationship with technology, the scope of Love, Death & Robots is a bit wider. We still get many episodes where a futuristic world is used to ultimately warn us against giving into our own hubris, but there’s a bit more humor and — dare I say it — hope.
There is a little something for everyone here, but if the series has one failing, it’s that it is painfully obvious the writer’s room is made up almost exclusively of men. Many of the women in these episodes have suffered violence, sometimes sexual in nature, or are clearly being objectified.
On the flip side, there is quite a bit of male nudity to keep the series balanced, though it’s admittedly not treated in the same way. Still, I found myself appreciative of the animation on both sides of the aisle, and many of the women become their own saviors despite the horrors they had witnessed.
It just would’ve been a bit more impactful if it had been handled by a woman instead.
But aside from that, you’ll find a myriad of stories here that will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. Some come with a classic Black Mirror twist, while others simply exist for our pleasure. No matter the episode, however, there’s always something to discuss, and I had a great time introducing this show to my friends in order to do just that.
There are essentially three kinds of episodes: dark, funny, and the ones that fall somewhere in between.
If you’re looking for a good time with Love, Death & Robots, there are a few episodes that will likely cheer you up:
- “Three Robots”: This one does what it says on the box. Three robots decide to take a stroll through a post-apocalyptic city to get a better idea of what humans were like. The cast of characters are simultaneously adorable and hilarious, and this one is bound to get a bunch of laughs. It’s fairly self-deprecating, but also comes with a poignant message. Win-win.
- “When the Yogurt Took Over”: It’s a weird one, but “Yogurt” should get a few laughs, if only for how ridiculous it is. Yes, it’s really about when yogurt took over the entire world. This one may also speak to our current political climate (just go with it), so it also has a message about humanity’s failings. I’m telling you, Love, Death & Robots can make you laugh and have an existential crisis all at the same time.
- “The Dump”: This next one could be dumb, but I honestly enjoyed it for its silliness. It takes place in — you guessed it — a dump, where one man weaves a story in order to explain why he’ll never give up his property. It’s a bit unexpected, on multiple fronts, but it’s also colorful and engaging. There might even be a little message about not judging a book by its cover, too.
- “Blindspot”: Next up is an episode that could have easily fallen into another category, but I’m choosing to put it here because it’s high-octane and full of memorable characters. This one follows a group of robots chasing down a truck so they can rob it. Make sure you stick around to the very final moment.
- “Alternate Histories”: Unfortunately, this episode is my least favorite of the bunch. It’s about what the world would be like if Hitler died in a much different way earlier in his life. You get six alternate timelines, and while it starts off as interesting and reflective, it soon delves into the ridiculous. I wish they would’ve stuck with the more likely scenarios, but I’m sure it’ll garner a few laughs, regardless.
When I say these episodes are dark, I mean they’re dark. If you’re looking for a good time, skip these and be warned that they contain quite a bit of violence and sexual assault.
- “Sonnie’s Edge”: This is probably my favorite episode of the series, even though I don’t love every single thing about it (scroll back up to my comment about a male-dominated writer’s room). Sonnie is a victim of violence who has chosen to fight back against the people who have hurt her. This episode has one of the best choreographed monster battles I’ve ever seen. If you can stomach the story, it’s definitely one to watch.
- “The Witness”: Again, we’re seeing women unnecessarily objectified, but as with most of these “Love, Death & Robots” episodes, it comes with a twist. It follows a woman as she runs for her life after witnessing a murder. “The Witness” is not one of my favorites, but the ending is worth a discussion.
- “Beyond the Aquila Rift”: I hate to keep saying it, but there’s also more female objectification here. The caveat is that it’s positive even when it’s gratuitous. This one has the biggest Black Mirror vibes, and it makes me thankful that it’s animated instead of live-action. You really can do anything these days, and the characters look so realistic.
- “Good Hunting”: Not only do we get more violence against women here, but they’re also villainized for their sexuality. Much like with “Sonnie’s Edge,” it ultimately puts the woman in the driver’s seat for her revenge, but only after unspeakable things have been done to her. If you like Asian-inspired stories and folklore, especially about fox spirits, this one is for you. It also comes with a cool steampunk vibe.
- “The Secret War”: You’ll be happy to know this one doesn’t feature any on-screen violence against women. Because there are no women in this one. It takes place in Russia, where a team of soldiers must decide how much they’ll sacrifice in order to keep bloodthirsty demons from taking over the world. It’s pretty violent and not altogether hopeful, but it does speak to the power of these kinds of connections.
What if you want something thought-provoking and deep that isn’t going to make your stomach turn? I’m not saying these episodes aren’t also funny or violent, but they do a better job of walking that middle ground.
- “Suits”: This is actually the only episode that made me cry, but don’t expect it to be a total downer. The stakes are high when you own a farm in constant danger of being attacked by aliens, but that’s nothing a mech suit can’t handle. Until a giant horde comes knocking on your door. This is much more cartoon-y than many of the other episodes (thank goodness, or I probably would’ve cried harder), and it’s got a great blend of humor and action. The last shot made me gasp.
- “Shape-shifters”: If you’re not totally over werewolves, this episode contains a powerful little story about identity. It takes place in the Middle East during a time where werewolves are now allowed to be part of the military. This one could act as a metaphor for quite a few current social issues, but I’ll let you come to your own conclusion in that regard.
- “Sucker of Souls”: Maybe werewolves aren’t your thing. How about vampires? “Sucker of Souls” is about the Dracula, and while I don’t think it’s particularly memorable or adds much to the original lore, the animation is fun and there are a few humorous moments. It also features a badass woman with explosives, and you just can’t go wrong there.
- “Helping Hand”: Gravity. Interstellar. The Martian. Space is a great place for drama. And death. If you’re squeamish, I’d skip this one. At one point, it’s pretty disgusting, but it’s also not as dark as some of the other episodes.
- “Fish Night”: Two men break down in the desert, and when night finally falls, they experience a beautiful light show, the likes of which they’d never seen before. This wouldn’t be Love, Death & Robots if there wasn’t a twist, but I’ll leave that for when you get around to watching it. If nothing else, it might be the series’ most beautiful episode.
- “Lucky 13”: If you’re looking for a female-led episode that’s not centered around a woman’s pain and trauma, this one is for you. It’s about a pilot’s relationship with her plane, nicknamed Lucky 13, and bring into question if technology could ever be just more than wires and circuitry. It’s tense, exciting, and a little bit hopeful.
- “Zima Blue”: Out of all the episodes, this one feels the closest to a piece of art — which is apt, given it’s about an artist and his relationship with his work. You’ll get quite a bit of quiet introspection with this one, and a whole lot to think about.
- “Ice Age”: The difference in this episode will be apparent the second you turn it on, but I don’t want to ruin it for the sake of you having as pure of an experience as I did. This one walks us through humanity’s entire journey from the Ice Age to the distant future in a unique way. It’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure, and will lead to some interesting discussions about the ending.