Peacock is going big for its first foray into a streaming drama. The app just debuted “Brave New World.” The 9 episode series is based on the epic book written by Aldous Huxley in 1932. But the story feels eerily appropriate for the modern world.
“Brave New World” imagines a utopian society that has achieved peace and stability by prohibiting anything that could potentially cause unhappiness like monogamy, privacy, money, family, and history itself. Citizens of New London, Bernard Marx (Harry Lloyd) and Lenina Crowne (Jessica Brown Findlay) have only ever known a rigid social order thanks to a happiness inducing pharmaceutical called Soma, and a culture of instant gratification and ubiquitous sex.
Curious to explore life beyond the strictures of their society, the two New Worlders embark on a vacation to the Savage Lands, where they become embroiled in a harrowing and violent rebellion. Bernard and Lenina are rescued by John the Savage (Alden Ehrenreich), who escapes with them back to New London.
John’s arrival in the New World soon threatens to disrupt its utopian harmony. The three become entwined in a fraught relationship that awakens them to the dangers of their own conditioning.
I spoke with Ehrenreich (“Solo: A Star Wars Story”) who is social distancing right now at his home in Los Angeles. He tells me viewers will see parallels between the story and the modern world even though the book was written nearly 90 years ago.
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“It does tackle these very deep and very real, important issues about what it means to be a whole human being,” Ehrenreich explains. “I think that’s a wonderful thing to take this time and put our attention to. Stepping away from whatever rate race one lives in the normal world and getting to reflect on how you want to be and how you want to live.”
In the book, society has solved the problem of crime, racism, sexism, homophobia, disease, and any emotional discomfort at all with the help of the happiness pill. But it asks a larger question - would that truly bring happiness? The project has been more than five years in development and has gone through various networks and writers. It was eventually brought to the small screen by showrunner and executive producer David Wiener (“Fear the Walking Dead”). Wiener has taken a lot of Huxley’s philosophical ideals in the book and updated them for a modern audience in a way that feels fresh and thought provoking.
Ehrenreich doesn’t seem to feel any pressure in launching Peacock’s flagship drama. He says it’s just really cool to be a part of it.
“It’s exciting to be in the fray in this way. Because we’re all creating a new world in how we experience stories.”
“Brave New World” is produced by Universal Content Productions, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Amblin Television.