- For the original British series, see Utopia (Channel 4).
Utopia is an American drama web television series adapted from the British original. The series was created by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote all episodes and serves as an executive producer. It is an Amazon Prime exclusive that was released on September 25, 2020. On November 27, 2020, it was reported that Amazon had chosen not to renew the series, ending its run at a single season.
Utopia is a twisted, eight-episode thriller about a group of young comic fans who discover the conspiracy in a graphic novel is real, and embark on a high-stakes adventure to save humanity from the end of the world.
- Sasha Lane as Jessica Hyde
- Rainn Wilson as Michael Stearns
- Dan Byrd as Ian Ackerman
- Javon Walton as Grant Bishop
- Cory Michael Smith as Thomas Christie
- Ashleigh LaThrop as Becky Todd
- Desmin Borges as Wilson Wilson
- Farrah Mackenzie as Alice
- Christopher Denham as Arby
- John Cusack as Dr. Kevin Christie
- Jeanine Serralles as Colleen
- Jessica Rothe as Samantha J.
Amazon's Utopia premiered on September 25, 2020 with eight episodes:
- "Life Begins"
- "Just a Fanboy"
- "Tuesday's Child"
- "not slow not bad"
- "Order 2472"
- "Respect Your Purpose"
- "Talking Hurts"
- "Stay Alive, Jessica Hyde"
Utopia was originally being produced for HBO, with acclaimed director David Fincher set to team up with Gillian Flynn to adapt the British series. In August 2015, it was announced that the series had been cancelled due to budgetary disputes between HBO and Fincher. The project eventually became an Amazon original series, with Flynn still attached. The series was officially announced as being greenlit by Amazon on April 19, 2018. The original announcement stated that the series had been ordered for nine episodes, though this turned out to be only eight. With the greenlighting of the series also came an overall deal between Amazon and Flynn for her to potentially produce more series in the future. A number of locations in Chicago were used for the show's filming, including several homes, and outside both the Chicago Theatre and the Harold Washington Library.
Relation to the British series
According to Gillian Flynn, the adaptation focuses not only on "Americanizing" the original series, but looks into ways in which it can resonate with an American audience. The Utopia remake is made in the style of "1970s paranoia thrillers where no one trusted anyone."
Martin Carr of Flickering Myth gave the series a glowing review, stating that there is "nothing else more topical on television right now" and that to a certain extent the series "poaches the best elements of viral movie making from The Andromeda Strain through to Contagion." Roxana Hadadi of AV Club gave the series a negative review, describing the series as "irritatingly drawn-out, disappointingly oblique." Several reviewers discussed the series in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Glen Weldon of NPR stated that the series "just wasn't made for these times." Referencing a catchphrase of show character Kevin Christie, "What have you done to earn your place in this crowded world?", he turns it on the series, asking "What did you do in this episode to earn your place in this crowded script, and in this crowded landscape of streaming choices?" and stating that the answer is, too often, "Not enough." Matthew Dessem of Slate went even further, stating outright that the series should never have been released in 2020. He noted that many series or episodes of series were pulled or delayed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, not as a matter of censorship but as one of reading the room, something which the people behind the release of the series should have considered. He stated ultimately that if the country gets to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, the series can be appreciated for what it is: "an inferior American copy of a pretty good British TV show." Horror writer Stephen King shared his thoughts on the series on Twitter, stating that the show "...has the slow build to full steam that I associate with page-turning novels. Horrifying, violent, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny." 
As of November 1, 2020, the series has a total of 45 reviews at the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, 23 of which grade the series as "Fresh" and 22 as "Rotten" for a score of 51% Fresh. The site's Critic's Consensus feature states that "Utopia's cast and mystery at times transcend its overtly cynical and overly violent tendencies, but even those willing to look past the torture may find the whole thing too timely - in a bad way."
Although the series had yet to be officially renewed by Amazon, creator Gillian Flynn stated in an interview that work on a potential second season was underway. However, on November 27, 2020, it was reported that Amazon had chosen to cancel the series, ending it at a single season.
The series was rated as being only for those ages 16 and older due to the various themes and violence featured in the series. At some point shortly following the initial release of the series, this rating was changed to TV-MA. Furthermore, possibly due to the implications in light of real-world COVID-19 pandemic, the series also carries a viewer discretion warning at the beginning of each episode, which states that either "This program is a work of fiction, and not based on actual, related, or current events. It contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised," or "This program is a work of fiction, and not based on an actual pandemic or related events. It contains scenes that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised."
- LeBeauf, Jeandra (September 20, 2020). Sasha Lane Plays a Character That Doesn’t Fall on a Specific Spectrum in ‘Utopia’. Black Girl Nerds. Retrieved on September 20, 2020.
- Andreeva, Nellie (November 27, 2020). ‘Utopia’ Canceled By Amazon After One Season. Retrieved on November 28, 2020.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 12, 2014). HBO Adapting British Thriller Drama Series ‘Utopia’ With David Fincher & Gillian Flynn. Deadline. Retrieved on October 18, 2020.
- Amazon Studios Greenlights Utopia, Signs Gillian Flynn to Overall Deal. Amazon (April 19, 2018). Retrieved on September 22, 2020.
- Swartz, Tracy (September 24, 2020). A guide to the Chicago filming locations for ‘Fargo’ and ‘Utopia’. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on November 1, 2020.
- Amazon Prime's Utopia panel at San Diego Comic-Con@Home 2020
- Carr, Martin (September 21, 2020). TV Review – Amazon’s Utopia. Flickering Myth. Retrieved on September 21, 2020.
- Hadadi, Roxana (September 15, 2020). Gillian Flynn's muted Utopia adaptation fails to say anything unique about our current moment. AV Club. Retrieved on September 21, 2020.
- Weldon, Glen (September 25, 2020). Amazon's Violent, Cynical 'Utopia' Just Wasn't Made For These Times. NPR. Retrieved on September 26, 2020.
- Dessem, Matthew (September 25, 2020). Amazon’s Utopia Should Never Have Been Released in 2020. Slate. Retrieved on September 26, 2020.
- Stephen King Shared His Thoughts On Amazon's Violent Thriller Utopia. Cinema Blend (October 26, 2020). Retrieved on October 27, 2020.
- Utopia Season 1. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on September 24, 2020.
- Fullerton, Huw (September 25, 2020). Utopia ending explained and season 2 hints. RadioTimes. Retrieved on October 18, 2020.