Somebody call Neo: virtual reality landscapes are once again the hot new thing, in life and in media. And just as The Matrix helped redefine our view of virtual worlds way back in 1999, television’s newest trend paints the rebooted tech with an air of menace.
But why? And why now? What is it about virtual reality that, decades after the technology was first introduced, TV has embraced the technology whole-heartedly for major storylines on network, and cable? We’ve got a few ideas in that direction, but first let’s talk a quick look back through the complicated history of virtual reality, and its existence (eXistenZ?) in media.
Naturally, whenever any new technology hits the market, Hollywood tries to integrate and grapple with it, often with mixed results (look for Rise of the Fidget Spinners to hit theaters some time next Fall). The hacker thrillers of the 2000s proved there’s nothing less exciting than actors furrowing their brows while furiously typing on computers. Arguably, it took another decade and a half until Mr. Robot figured out how to make hacking into gripping entertainment, and that’s mostly due to a focus on characters over computers; married to a slick, visual style helmed by show creator Sam Esmail.