Even though every panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con is virtual, it seems especially fitting for Amazon’s Upload to have an online panel. The sci-fi comedy takes place in the near future where people can choose to “Upload” themselves into a virtual afterlife of their choice… as long as they can afford it.
That caveat was one of the big topics of discussion when creator, executive producer and director Greg Daniels and stars Robbie Amell (Nathan), Andy Allo (Nora), Kevin Bigley (Luke), Allegra Edwards (Ingrid), and Zainab Johnson (Alisha) came together for Comic-Con@Home to talk about the first season of the show.
Main character Nathan is “Uploaded” to a swanky afterlife called Lakeview, which is run by the company Horizon. While exploring his new world, Nathan discovers lower levels and the 2Gigs, those without the ability to afford Lakeview so they are resigned to a bland, “limited data” existence.
“The show is very much about unfairness because we as human beings are creating our own heaven and it’s for-profit and it’s not supernatural at all in this show,” Daniels said. “So it has all of the greedy downsides of normal human society. The part that you really feel for is someone like Nora who is really struggling to try to afford Upload for her dad… there are all of these very wealthy people walking around and they don’t necessarily deserve it but they’re up there for hundreds of years.”
Heaven run by corporations has a lot of downsides, which is the main reason Johnson wouldn’t choose to Upload if the technology were available.
“I think continuing the consciousness is really cool but I just don’t trust corporations enough to put my consciousness, my full consciousness, in their hands,” she said.
Plus, in Upload, not everyone enjoys a five-star afterlife and that’s down to corporate greed.
“[Horizon] could let the 2Gigs have the same experience as everybody else because it wouldn’t cost them anything additional,” Daniels said. “But they keep the 2Gig experience not very good so you’ll want to… save up more while you’re alive so you can have the luxurious experience.”
While Nathan wasn’t rich, Ingrid, his girlfriend at the time of his death, is and ensured Nathan received a premium afterlife experience. But that also meant Ingrid held incredible control of his digital existence. Edwards acknowledged the abuse of power in Ingrid and Nathan’s relationship but also found it fun to explore “the modern, long-distance relationship.” Especially now that so many people worldwide are self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, she sees a lot of fans resonating with this relationship.
But in truth, the biggest relationship to get behind is between Nora and Nathan. As season 1 progresses, they develop an attraction to one another that is only somewhat hindered by the fact that he exists only in a virtual world. From Allo’s perspective, part of what makes Nathan so appealing to Nora is how much she knows about him from the very start. As the Horizon representative assigned to Nathan, Nora was able to see Nathan’s memories. She was also able to see how he changed for the better and developed compassion for those around him.
Amell agreed saying that Nathan started off as a “shallow douchebag” but started to change when he encountered the 2Gigs as well as learning about Nora’s real problems, such as job insecurity and the impending death of her father.
“I think one of the really nice things about the Nora/Nathan relationship is that it’s not supposed to work,” Amell said. “She’s alive, and I am an Upload… it’s a little bit like a no-pressure thing. We’re able to become friends and there shouldn’t be a romantic side to things but you can’t deny the chemistry when you’re learning so much from somebody and sharing so many experiences with somebody.”
The romance between Nathan and Nora is hilariously contrasted with the more contentious relationship between Luke, another Upload, and Aleesha, his Horizon rep.
You have Allegra and Andy and Robbie and they have these very existential themes and problems,” Bigley said. “Luke is just the opposite. He’s just completely rejecting all of that deeper thought to try to figure out ways he can get as much earthy pleasure in this place that is beyond earth.”
Bigley continued that Luke’s exploits are not all that different than how everyone has tried to adapt to the coronavirus quarantine and keep ourselves busy. Except when Luke messes around, Aleesha can get in trouble. However, Johnson acknowledges that Luke makes Aleesha’s otherwise boring job much more interesting.
That may be more of something we see next season but Daniels was only able to tease a little about season 2 since he’s currently in the middle of writing it. Fans can look forward to seeing more cool technology and how Nora and Nathan change Lakeview.
Season 1 of Upload is available exclusively on Amazon Prime.
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