I knew nothing of this film going in, which is something of a rare treat for me. At it’s core Uncle Frank is a coming out story from writer and director Alan Ball, famous for American Beauty (1999) and True Blood (2008–2014). Haunted by trauma and huge piles of guilt, a gay man closeted to most of his family, in the early years of the nineteen-seventies, returns to his ultra conservative homestead after the sudden death of his father. It’s clever in that it frames the subject with a flush of optimism, encapsulated by the rebellious niece who looks up to her uncle Frank. If I were to say it’s charm comes with a vicious left right combination, you can clench your guts for the emotional battering you’re about to receive.
This might be one of the more original and challenging science fiction television series I’ve seen recently. Thematically it takes massive swings at the big conflicts of religion and science, faith and atheism, churning them all in the milky sea of what it is to be a parent. Earth has been ravaged by an apocalyptic war between atheists and religious zealots. Two androids, only ever referred to as Mother and Father, are sent to a mysterious planet, where they birth and try to raise humanity’s last hope. When a lander arrives, heralding the coming of the zealot’s ark, the conflicts that caused Earth’s destruction are reignited. There are no easy answers to the questions this story wades neck deep into. Deliberately leaving you with so many more questions than conclusions. It’s not hard to see the guiding hand of Ridley Scott steering a visceral and stylish ship created by Aaron Guzikowski, the writer responsible for Prisoners (2013). I look forward to the questions created by a second series.