"During the pandemic, it’s less of a dark-humored nerdism and more of a redundancy," says James Poniewozik. "What part of our lives are not simulations now? Warned away from the material world, we work in simulated office space, drink at simulated happy hours and trick out simulated islands in Animal Crossing. We’re also spending more time with that old-fashioned virtual space, TV — which in turn has developed a recent obsession with stories set in simulated realities. These series appeal to anxieties about technology, but also to a deeper fear. We are, let’s be blunt, suddenly thinking more often about death, the ultimate transition from the physical state. And death, as well as the possibility of other forms of life, is at the core of these stories."