Syfy channel’s newest drama “Incorporated” takes place in the year 2074. That is roughly 60 years from now, which can easily feel like a time and place completely out of reach. But there is something about the science fiction tale that feels completely grounded, realistic and, well, frighteningly possible.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a futuristic story unfold on screen that gives us some real world pause, but in the landscape of television, dystopic tales usually bend more into the realm of genre entertainment as opposed to any realism. That’s not to say “Incorporated” doesn’t have its fair share of escapist elements to keep it fresh and entertaining, but there have been little morsels thrown in from time to time that makes it hard to not think of the current political and cultural state of things across the globe.
For example, Wednesday’s (Dec. 21) episode, titled “Cost Containment,” opened with a familiar feeling infomercial. Yet, instead of Sally Struthers pleading with the common American to donate money to help feed a starving child in a third-world country, “Incorporated” ended up presenting the United States as that third world. The thing that brought us here? Climate change.
Hearing the Chinese narrator present young Johnny — a mere example of many American refugees seeking clothing, food and water — it becomes quite clear where the U.S. stands in 2074 against other global powers.
As we saw in that eye-opening glimpse into young Johnny’s life, the Chinese infomercial shows how rising waters and the catastrophic effects of the gradual warming of the Earth’s surface has pushed humankind into uncharted territories. It’s what gives us the Red Zones and Green Zones, the refugee camps and ration hacking, the high-class cut-throat world of corporations and the privileged, yet dangerous, culture that comes with it.
In 2074, the world as it exists here is completely foreign to what we know in 2017. And while “Incorporated” is indeed a work of fiction, there’s enough subject matter hiding underneath the wondrous gadgets and Aaron’s (Sean Teale) secret rescue mission, to take to heart.
Could climate change push us into a collapsed society, informed consistently by the ongoing threat of class warfare? Will we eventually be separated by electric fences and really big walls? Are fear and greed going to be the currencies of our reality? These burning questions should sound far-fetched and silly, but as we watch “Incorporated’s” tale unfold, it’s hard not to wonder what our own future will bring.
“Incorporated” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.