Hulu is taking an ambitious risk with its new sci-fi series, Utopia Falls. The show is the streamer’s latest attempt to reach the young adult crowd, and it boasts all the ingredients necessary to feel at home in the YA dystopian genre.
With that being said, the series isn’t just another Hunger Games rip off, nor is it relying solely on genre conventions to sell its story. Instead, Utopia Falls has committed to a plot that — for better or worse — makes it one of the genre's most unique entries in recent memory.
Here’s what you need to know about Utopia Falls:
Utopia Falls takes place 300 years in the future, where the residents of New Babyl, the last living colony on earth, all live in relative peace. Every year, 24 of the colony’s teens are chosen to honor the colony’s founder, Gaia, by competing in a dance competition known as the Exemplar. But when a group of the colony’s teens venture outside of the colony’s limits and discover an ancient archive (which is voiced by Snoop Dogg), they are introduced to historical and cultural relics from the distant past that they've never seen or heard of before. Among the archive’s relics, the teens discover hip-hop, and find themselves beginning to break free from the colony’s more traditional forms of expression.
Where the dystopian worlds of The Hunger Games or Divergent were defined by violence, the futuristic community of Utopia Falls is driven by performance. So unlike those other YA entries, Utopia Falls seeks to blend the traditional settings and themes of dystopian fiction with dance set-pieces and a hip-hop soundtrack. Rebellion in The Hunger Games came in the form of outright war and political propaganda, but in Utopia Falls, the characters rebel by trying to introduce the art and music of the past to the other citizens of their colony.
The show’s cast features a diverse array of young actors, led by Robyn Alomar (Riot Girls) and Akiel Julien (The Next Step). Their two characters are the first to discover the forbidden archive, but quickly begin sharing its wisdom and treasures with some of their peers, played by Robbie Graham-Kuntz (Full Out), Humberly González (In the Dark), Devyn Nekoda (Backstage), and Mickeey Nguyen (Make It Pop).
R.T. Thorne created Utopia Falls, and serves as an executive producer, director, and co-writer on the series. He's a veteran of the TV and music video world, having directed episodes of Blindspot, Find Me in Paris, Backstage, and Degrassi: Next Class, as well as videos for artists like Snoop Dogg and Sean Paul. Joseph Mallozzi (Dark Matter) serves as showrunner and co-executive producer on the series, while the show’s choreography comes from music video veteran, Tanisha Scott.
The entire first season of Utopia Falls is now available for streaming on Hulu.
Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.