In tone, it most reminds me of the first series of Heroes. Yes, the multiple storylines are reminiscent of Cloud Atlas, perhaps directing that is what made the Wachowskis hanker for more.
But, overall, the storylines here are more varied and, with the vast sprawl of a whole series, we can divert far more into the minutiae of the characters’ lives. Plus, the stories vary more in terms of light and shade: there’s actual fluffy comedy in a couple, balanced with bleak horror in others. This leads to the whole endeavour feeling more believable as an ensemble piece, I’m glad that it isn’t incessant grim. It feels more lifelike.
(Oh, yaaaay, Berwick Street! Hello, Soho!)
And then there’s the issue of representation. Trans people playing trans people, Indians playing Indians, gayness EVERYWHERE! Yaaaaay! (though I’m gonna minus some points for the very Indian Naveen Andrews playing, apparently, a Persian / Iranian).
This is a global cast and a mixed cast which makes the whole premise of the series feel more real, more organic. This could so easily have been strangers all linked up who were in one white, US city. Or they could have all been straight. Or middle class. Having the scenes zip from continent to continent, from slums to swanky penthouses… it leaves the viewer breathless and embedded. Going back to normal TV drama is going to feel distinctly monocultural.
It’s only with episode three that we see the true power of the eight. Until then, it was at best a distraction, a dangerous removal from the “real.” But with Capheus’ fight, we see the possibilities. And they’re pretty fucking cool.
Here comes episode four! WHEEEEEEE!