CW Spoilers, details mentioned here are those involving the Peacock/Netflix show Brave New World, and compares to the original source material by Aldous Huxley. Please skip if you never read the book or seen the show, but read on if you want a serious review.
I love old books, and there’s something important to note. Brave New World, the masterpiece by Aldous Huxley, has its own special category of awesomeness that I never fail to be dissatisfied by. First off, this book shows you a world utopian society with a scientific caste system, but beyond this, the show is awkwardly different from the source material. If you have read either book or seen the show episodes 1 and 2, read on. I will be hijacking my own blog to review the entire series a bit at a time. See the above CW (content warning) for details and a spoiler alert is in effect.
Here are the highlights from episodes 1 and 2, and how they compare to the book source material. Did the production company get this right?
- The beginning. In the book’s beginning, we meet the DHC, or the Director of Hatchery and Conditioning for Central London, which in the show is called New London. Nice job, guys. But that’s where the show is a bit different. We meet Lenina Crowne, whose name in the show is pronounced “laneena”, but I totally understand the alternate pronouncing of her name in book narrations I’ve scrolled through. In the book, Lenina is seen injecting her embryonic patients with the usual stuff, and there are students and guides there to see it all happen. However, in the show, it’s just Lenina, brunette instead of blonde (see next item) and she’s injecting embryos as per the usual thing she does. You don’t see Henry though till the middle and the first man Lenina meets in the book is Henry, but in the show, it’s our hero, Bernie or should I say, Bernard Marx. That’s a big deviation from the source materials.
- Lenina’s hair is blonde, and she’s pleasantly pretty in the book. In the show, as described to me through the UK descriptor, she’s brunette. Why the change? Is it that blondes aren’t pretty anymore?
- Savage Lands versus Savage Reservation. Oh, did I mention that savages are mentioned in both books and the show? In the book, however, Native Americans are not portrayed well, as was expected in the 1930s when Huxley wrote the source material, and John of course was a British kid dressing up in Native American attire, and we meet John when Lenina and Bernard went to the “Savage Reservations” in New Mexico in the book source material. How it deviates with the show! We meet John before Lenina boards the rocket to the Savage Lands, and the whole land is a theme park, not a fenced in reservation. John is not among Native Americans, but among people who choose to live a so called primitive existence. John also tries to go after a girl, but we don’t see this in the book until John tells his story to Bernard, and the story is a hopelessly tragic one. John wanted to marry a Native American girl, Kiakime, and the girl was actually married to Kothlu, a young Native boy. Sadly, this show iteration of John and Kia’s romance is worse. Instead of the Native born Kiakime, we get Madison, and instead of Kothlu, we get this stranger from the prop store. Madison is pregnant, and we don’t know who did this, and John is an outcast as in the original source material. See next item.
- The festival deviates from book to show. John’s status with the Natives (I refuse to use the word Savage here.) is so low because they called him names, chanted songs about him, the whole bit. What bothered me most was when John wanted to do a manhood ceremony with the young boys who were to become men, and they said the most hurtful words. “No, not for you, white hair, not for the son of the she-dog.” They referred to Linda, his mother, as such because of her frequent amatory encounters with their men. However, I wouldn’t go about calling women this because it’s rather hurtful, and to refer to her son as a white hair though was worse. In the show, John is told to stay away from Madison, and the guy says, in no uncertain terms, that he’d kill John if he got close to Madison. Linda, of course, objects. We meet John in the book during a drumming festival, and Lenina constantly babbles on about the drums, and she compares them to everything possible, including “a lower caste community sing.” We. haven’t gotten to the community sings, but I’ll suggest we talk about that soon.
- The actual festival in the show was a movie theater, and in that theater, there was a circus of course. This did not include drums, and there weren’t a bad smelling dude who guided Lenina and her compadre around. This seemed odd.
- The rest home. Like, am I going to tell you how deviant that whole thing in the show was? Lenina and Bernard go on a rocket to the “Savage Lands” which as I stated before is a theme park for primitive life. Now, let’s talk about the hotel. Bernard, as in the book, is an alpha plus. Taht’s the highest caste in the caste system in New London. Lenina is a beta plus, one step lower but that is to be expected if you want to stay true to the source material. They receive badges, something not mentioned in the book, but in the book they got keys. The rest house was a private thing, sort of. Now the hotel did have a balcony, and it was much more luxurious in the show. Weirder still, the bureaucrats Lenina and Bernard are treated to a bus tour of the Savage Lands. Now, let’s talk further about the meeting between Bernard and John.
- Bernard is unconscious when meeting John for the first time, but John meets Lenina after they’re hiding in the apartment in the Savage Lands. Let me tell you, the Savage Lands are about five centuries behind the 26th century, but this theme park is no playground. There’s a lot of violence and jealousy and a lot of what you might call the same behavior you’d see in Straight Out of Compton. It’s not the same as in the book, where there’s a highly charged electric fence, and all the Natives are fenced in and not allowed to leave. Lenina is sleeping when John meets her. But in the show, we have Bernard lying wounded, but unconscious, I’m sure he has to make it, and Lenina has her face cupped in John’s hand in the final scene of episode 2. One more detail.
- The Soma rations. Where to begin. The book has lots of instances of the drug known as “soma.” In the show, just about everybody has a soma dispenser, like where to we get creative with this? Soma is amazing, for the most part, in the book. It numbs your mind and it gives you that eternal “soma holiday” as is referenced many times over in Huxley’s source material. However, the dispensers are a show creation. When the people get their soma rations each day, the soma is dispensed to the lower classes in boxes, little boxes, and the boxes hold the little yellow pill in each compartment. Soma rations are given to everybody in the show, but in the show, everybody uses the trains. Where’s the flying? In the book, Henry and Bernard are flying in futuristic helicopters, aircrafts that go from settings like wasp to bumblebee and so on. However, only the lower castes, gamma on down, use the trains and the monorails are packed with them. Every day after the main day shifts are over, you see lines upon lines of these “twins” and so on, and they populate the trains thus far. There’s no helicopters mentioned throughout the show, but you do see futuristic aircrafts flying about New London. I”m impressed with the descriptions of such.
That’s about all the things I can think of for now. For more on Brave New World, watch for the next blog entry. I will also talk a little bit about it on this week’s forthcoming podcast episodes. I’ll do a couple episodes a week of a review, and moreover, this will be incomplete without it.
To find the show, you need either Peacock in the US or Netflix in the UK, but if you’re blind in the US, download from http://www.audiovault.net, and you will need to erase a desktop file in their folder because it messes up the zip archive. Thank you for reading, and enjoy the show if you can.