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The end is nigh? The near future is already in the past

Near-Fi series are currently trending - but weren't they already yesterday? Our overview shows that both the past and present offer great series that take place in the near future.


It was not only at the Berlinale Series Days that the near future, or Near-Fi/Near Fiction, was hailed as the next big thing in the TV industry: It allows us to glimpse our potentially immediate fate in a remarkably plausible way. Whether it's Scandinavian isolation scenarios ("Arkitekten," "The Fortress"), climate catastrophe ("Der Schwarm," "Extrapolations"), or artificial intelligence ("Tender Hearts," available on Sky from April 7), the gap between speculation and prophecy seems to be getting smaller. This is also demonstrated by our brief look back, which shows that the future was already near to today and tomorrow yesterday.



Where: RTL+
Who: Jordan Peele (creator), Adam Scott, Steven Yuen, John Chow, Rhea Seehorn, Seth Rogen (performers)
What: Reimagining of the anthology series originally conceived in 1959 by Rod Serling, who knew more than 60 years ago what the worlds of tomorrow might look like.
Why: Because since 2020 at the latest, we have actually felt continuously as if we had accidentally landed in dimensions beyond our imagination.

BLACK MIRROR (UK, 2011 - )

Where: Netflix 
Who: Charlie Brooker (creator), Miley Cyrus, Andrew Scott, Anthony Mackie, Andrea Riseborough (performers*)
What: Something of a British pedant to the "Twilight Zone," with which sharp-tongued critic Charlie Brooker got to play Cassandra, first on Channel 4 and eventually on Netflix.
Why: Because "Black Mirror" has an incredible track record in terms of predictions that have come true, almost rivaling "The Simpsons."

YEARS & YEARS (UK, 2019)

Where: Prime Video, Apple TV, Google TV (paid)
Who: Russel T. Davies (creator), Rory Kinnear, Emma Thompson, Lydia West (performers)
What: The interweaving of family drama and contemporary history that, for once, takes place in our immediate future.
Why: Because showrunner Davies manages, especially at the beginning, to condense Brexit, Trump, climate catastrophe and refugee crisis into a catastrophe whose effects seem truly terrifying (and yet so close).


Where: arte
Who: Lars Lundström (creator), Andreas Wilson, Lisette Pagler (cast)
What: ChatGPT taken further: In our immediate future, robots with artificial intelligence are part of our everyday lives - and strive for a self-determined life.
Why: Because here robots are not only allowed to dream about sheep, but quite actively fight to be recognized as part of society.


Where: Amazon Prime
Who: Ronald D. Moore (creator), Richard Madden, Benedict Wong, Geraldine Chaplin (performers)
What: Amazon's attempt to establish its own "Black Mirror" universe based on science fiction uber-father Philip K. Dick.
Why: Because Dick's short stories, in particular, have fired our imaginations, showrunners and probably the future for some 70 years.

WESTWORLD (2016-2022)

Where: Sky
Who: Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy (creators*), Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris (performers*)
What: Serialized re-imagining of Michael Crichton's classic book and film, in which an amusement park full of robots begins to revolt.
Why: Because the brilliant first season in particular poses fascinating ethical and moral questions around robotics, artificial intelligence and humanity.

UPLOAD (USA, 2020 - )

Where: Amazon Prime
Who: Greg Daniels (creator), Robbie Amell, Andy Allo, Allegra Edwards (cast members)
What:Intriguing sci-fi comedy in which people live a sort of "Second Life" in virtual space after they die, in vastly different classes depending on their level of wealth.
Why: Because after this variant of Zuckerberg's Metaverse, which is thought through to otherworldly consequences, we can start saving for life after death.


Where: Lionsgate+ (RIP), Amazon, Apple, etc. (paid)
Who: Patrick Somerville (creator), Emily St. John Mandel (author), Mackenzie Davis, Gael Garcia Bernal, Lori Petty (performers)
What: The phased, almost odyllishly bucolic adaptation of the dystopian bestseller in which a post-pandemic world is held together by Shakespeare.
Why: Because the pandemic state of emergency was allowed to provide horror here at the same time as the Covid crisis, the "Sweet Hereafter" has rarely been dressed more poetically in images and words.


Where: Magenta TV, Amazon Prime

Who: Bruce Miller (creator), Margaret Atwood (author), Elizabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahowski (performers*)

What: Serial adaptation of the dystopian Atwood classic in which women are kept as birthing machines in a religiously fanatical future state.

Why: Because the plot threatened to be caught up in the shadows of the Trump administration even as it was airing, and the "Handmaidens" have since become a symbol of worldwide protest against fascism and oppression.

ANNA (ITA, 2021)

Where: Disney+ (originally Sky Italia, arte)
Who: Niccolò Ammaniti (creator), Guilia Dragotto, Viviana Mocciaro, Alessandro Pecorella (performers)
What: Here, too, a pandemic changes life on Earth: all the adults must die, and the remaining children fight for survival.
Why: Because pandemic dystopias are currently particularly in demand, this one in an almost fairy-tale way also for a slightly younger audience tangible and understandable.