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It's The Perfect Time to Revisit Alex Garland’s Forgotten Sci-Fi Show

Devs’ chilling take on big tech has only gotten more potent since its 2000 release.

Nick Offerman and Sonoya Mizuno in 'Devs'
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There aren't many filmmakers who have produced as many memorable genre works over the past 30 years as Alex Garland. From 28 Days Later and Sunshine to Ex Machina and Annihilation, Garland has written and directed many of the most acclaimed sci-fi and horror movies in recent memory. His newest film, Civil War, hits theaters this week, and it already seems primed to be his most hotly debated project yet. (That’s saying a lot considering his last release was a horror movie called Men.)

Set in a near-future America torn apart by military conflict, Civil War is as terrifying as it is thrilling. It’s also not the only haunting story set in a near-future America that Garland has made this decade. Just four years ago, the filmmaker wrote and directed Devs, an FX and Hulu miniseries about a Silicon Valley-based tech company willing to go to disturbing lengths to perfect its latest invention. The show premiered in March 2020, but the conversation surrounding it at the time was quickly overwhelmed by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, Civil War's release this week offers the perfect chance to either revisit the show or finally give it the attention that it deserves. Here's why Inverse recommends that you do so.

Devs follows Lily Chan (frequent Garland collaborator Sonoya Mizuno), a software engineer who finds herself at the center of a conspiracy involving her Silicon Valley employer, quantum computing company Amaya, after her boyfriend, Sergei (Karl Glusman), dies during his first day working in its mysterious Devs lab. The further into Sergei's death she looks, the more suspicious Lily grows of Amaya's seemingly affable CEO, Forest (Nick Offerman), whose ambitions are secretly far greater than anyone outside of his closest collaborators could possibly imagine. Before long, Devs' thematic scope has grown to encompass everything from multiversal theory to whether or not free will really exists.

The series is, in typical Garland fashion, astonishingly ambitious and complex. It’s also rooted in the all-too-real fear that many feel over the seemingly unmonitored work being conducted on a daily basis by Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies. At first, Amaya is presented as an idyllic, retreat-like work environment for the world's brightest programmers and engineers. However, it doesn't take long for Devs to reveal the insidiousness lurking beneath the company's surface. In Offerman, Garland also found the perfect vessel for his biggest concerns about America's Big Tech culture (and his future, fascist president in Civil War).

Offerman, who is still best known for his comedic performance as Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation, uses his usual likability as a weapon in Devs. His Forest adopts a laidback, charming persona that will be all too familiar to anyone who has seen the way many of the world's biggest tech CEOs conduct themselves in public. Here’ it only makes the character's selfishness and brutal outlook on life all the more frightening to witness. Forest is, in many ways, similar to Oscar Isaac's genius inventor in Garland's 2015 masterpiece, Ex Machina, whose friendliness masks his massive ego and inherently manipulative nature.

Four years after its release, Devs’ concerns about the growing, unregulated power of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies only seem more relevant.


Devs' warnings about the dangers of a completely unregulated Big Tech community hold even more weight now than they did four years ago. That said, the series is a lot more than just a chilling slice of political and social commentary. It's also a consistently engaging, frequently surprising conspiracy thriller that isn't afraid to kill off characters or answer certain questions earlier than you might expect. Garland's usual confidence is apparent in every one of Devs' eight episodes, and the series never feels like a 2-hour movie that has been stretched longer than it should have been.

The show maintains its propulsive narrative momentum from start to finish, and it proves Garland is capable of crafting compelling stories across multiple different formats. In 2020, the series had the misfortune of coming out during a period that many people have understandably tried hard to forget. It is, nonetheless, worth making sure that Devs isn't completely forgotten. It's simply far too unique and interesting to deserve a fate like that.

Devs is available to stream now on Hulu.

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