"Set in a world where the last bastion of humanity lives in a literal bubble under the rule of a benevolently oppressive government that gently enforces social conformity, Utopia Falls tells the tale of a cadre of Plucky Teens™ who are—stop me if you’ve heard this one before—thrust into a competition that’s going to change their lives. What none of the young heroes know, though, is that they’re on a collision course with an ancient force with the power to completely tear asunder their perceptions of the world around them," says Charles Pulliam-Moore. "That force is hip-hop. Utopia Falls’ narrative similarities to The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner are immediate and unmistakable because the series isn’t exactly interested in reinventing those components of the wheel. Instead, the Hulu series uses a variety of past YA hallmarks as a way of centering the idea that art is a powerful form of expression that can directly combat fascism."
Utopia Falls forgets the founding mothers of hip-hop: "This premise is promising," says Shannon Miller. "Not only is it an opportunity to celebrate hip-hop’s political foundation, but to also present its rich history—a culture literally built by Black and brown creators—to a young audience. It’s an impossibly vast genre, and one 10-episode season could only hope to scratch the surface of its origins. But to position a young woman as the supposed face of a revolution and not make her appear even a little curious—visibly, at least—of the historical women who built the platform that she hopes to bravely use to lead her colony to freedom feels like such a missed opportunity. For the female trailblazers to not be just as present as their already highly touted brethren is a surefire way to leave a solid portion of your intended audience behind."
Utopia Falls is a bold attempt to make a better YA drama: "Everything about the show suggests great ambition," says Emma Gray Ellis. "It might have the ingredients of Hunger Games or Divergent, but it also aims to be something different—something a bit more nuanced than the standard YA story. It’s very high-concept: Its themes bounce from censorship to racism and classism to diversity to criminal justice reform to expression and art to dissention and protest. It has over a dozen named characters, two love triangles, two major parental identity twists, and a musical’s worth of songs and choreography packed into 10 episodes, and it all (almost) makes sense.
Think of Utopia Falls as a Child's First Guide to Dystopia and a Child's First Guide to Hip-Hop: "There's a respectable, but muddled, message here," says Daniel Fienberg. "Who's going to argue with a show arguing that living life truthfully is perhaps the path to true art and that true art is perhaps the path to general truth, especially when you have Snoop Dogg's voice periodically popping up to give brief lectures on topics as varied as civil disobedience and capoeira? It still has to function as a story, and Utopia Falls mostly settles for being a killer playlist and a series of fortune-cookie platitudes augmented by mediocre CG."