Fantastic Performances: Solos Season 1 Reviewed

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Another week, another sci-fi anthology series influenced by Black Mirror premieres. Solos Season 1 is Amazon Prime’s newest installment, and it’s a modern show that’s evocative of our days. Solos is a technology-based series that was shot at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last fall. Every episode focuses on only one main character.

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And what a time to name a series Solos — we’re guessing the bulk of these chapters were written at the height of the pandemic, allowing production staff and actors to be more inventive than usual. Each chapter features the main character in the same setting as they share their story, fueled by monologues and situations.

The heavyweight cast of A-listers, including Uzo Aduba, Constance Wu, Anne Hathaway, Helen Mirren, Anthony Mackie, and Morgan Freeman, is the most compelling excuse to watch Amazon’s latest season. The cast performs admirably, but the prose falls short of expectations. Some episodes are clearly superior to others.

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At the very least, Solos Season 1 is a significant improvement over Amazon’s other anthology series, The Romanoffs, which featured a large cast of big names but didn’t exactly strike the same notes as Modern Love. Mirren’s portrayal of a solitary woman hurtling into space and remembering the events of her past in the episode “Peg” is one of the season’s highlights. For each tale, Solos tries to sell the sci-fi element, but it is the actor’s performance that matters. The Amazon series alleviates our bonds across the human condition by presenting each character with an unknown future in their most lonely period. In this anthology collection, there isn’t a single shy monologue.

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Hathaway’s portrayal of a scientist attempting to create time travel while caring for her ill mother is also a fantastic way to start the season. Unfortunately, the remaining episodes are hit or miss, with the majority being ‘misses’. It’s not that Solos is all bad; it’s just that much of the storylines revolve around topics that have been explored in greater detail in other series. Even so, there are some moments of Solos that fans may like to revisit; from long rides on a spacecraft to chatting to your clone robot about your life before you die, there are plenty of emotional connections to cling to.

Despite the show’s best efforts, fewer concepts move forward from episode to episode, and this haphazard approach to technology like some all-consuming monolith, reappears in a later episode. However, the unintended theme that emerges as the most powerful, particularly once it is rendered apparent by “Sasha,” is the consequences of epidemic isolation.

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Without being insensitive to the craft, there’s only so much scope that can be offered when an entire concept is built mainly on a monologue or an actor who is autonomous of their environment; and getting that through 8 chapters is quite a challenge, and often an overwhelming experience.

That said, it’s not the worst way to kill a few hours, particularly if you’re rooting for your favorite actors. If you don’t have much else to watch on Netflix right now, each installment is just about 30 minutes long and can be a fun way to pass the time.

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