Series Review: ‘Uncanny Valley’4 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Set in the offices of WhatToGeek.com, the show is about a struggling pop-culture magazine and the wacky yet lovable characters who work there.
Cast: Jon Cancio, Johanna Van, Fahim Murshed, Bryan Peh, Khai Sheen
Runtime: About 20 minutes per episode
Films and series leaning on the meteoric rise of nerd culture in recent decades tend to be a mixed bag. How comedy series Uncanny Valley is a step above its contemporaries is with its strong focus on being character-driven and how it never falls into being an easter egg hunt of inside references. It’s a series that shows a lot of promise with its cast of likeable misfits and quick-witted humour.
Uncanny Valley follows a small team of writers working at WhatToGeek.com, a website dedicated to nerdom. Dinesh (Fahim Murshed) has the unfortunate privilege of being a reflection of the misogyny ever-present within the culture. Wesley (Bryan Peh) is an anime otaku who has the tendency to be overly committed to artistic endeavours. The introverted Linus (Khai Sheen) reports on eSports and hopes to spend his days barely working.
The series begins with enthusiastic writer Regina (Johanna Van) joining the boys’ club. All of them work under their bumbling editor James (Jon Cancio), who seems far more interested in sharing his love for the culture than to keep the website afloat.
Although there is a delineation between what each writer represents within the culture, they never fall into becoming caricatures. This is helped by the series’ mockumentary format and how each of the season’s five episodes centres around each character. Even Dinesh, the killjoy within the group, walks the thin line between being insufferable and redemptive. Uncanny Valley is a solid comedy with a punchy pace but it’s the dynamism of each character that truly elevates the series. Surely appreciated by the audience is how characters are never solely defined by how society may see them and the stereotypes associated with their interests.
These are fairly challenging roles that may not be implied by the series’ premise. Fahim Murshed handles his portrayal with relative ease, carrying around the fragile ego his character tries so desperately to bury with his unfound bigotry. Jon Cancio is terrific as an affable superior whose clear passion muddle the business aspects of his job but never comes off as overly juvenile. Although the rest of the cast does take time to settle into their roles, they still emerge from the series with charming characters that desperately vie for a continuation of their stories.
The series’ sharp script more than makes up for its modest budget. Yet, with most of Uncanny Valley taking place within a small office space, the series can slip into feeling too self-contained. While the bevvy of entertaining situations introduces playful unpredictability into each episode, more locations and side characters would have breathed even more life into the series.
This, however, seems to be a fantastic problem for the series to have. Uncanny Valley’s handling of geek culture is a welcomed change from what is mostly presented; here, the focus is not on what the characters like but what the characters are like. The first season of Uncanny Valley builds a strong foundation where the sky is the limit. It’s a series that only gets better with each episode and, with the opportunity, perhaps with each new season.
Uncanny Valley is part of the official selection of the SoCal Film Awards 2022, won the Outstanding Achievement award at the World Film Carnival Singapore Festival 2021, and was selected for the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival 2021. Follow @uncannyvalley.series on Instagram for the latest updates on all things Uncanny Valley.
This piece is sponsored by ‘Uncanny Valley’.
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