Unlike other big literary hits that have made it to television, like Game of Thrones and True Blood, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World isn't a series that lends itself to multiple TV seasons. But with the long-awaited TV adaptation now streaming on NBC's new platform Peacock, it begs the question: What could happen in a theoretical Brave New World Season 2.
For those who are really into Peacock's version, take comfort knowing there is potential for more.
"There's room for future seasons," showrunner David Wiener tells Inverse. "We leave a lot of doors open at the end of the season. I think it'll successfully lead into a second season. I hope they do."
Wiener further says that the second season could, maybe, take cues in Huxley's actual "sequel" to his novel. In 1958, nearly thirty years after the publication of Brave New World, Huxley published a book-length essay, Brave New World Revisited that reexamined his own work.
"He had a lot of second thoughts about how he ended it," Wiener says. "He questioned it. There were avenues that seemed more dramatically interesting to go at the end."
Even in the late '50s, Huxley saw that the world was becoming more like the future he predicted. Overpopulation was a concern for Huxley, as was the means to control an entire populace becoming more feasible. A few years away from the sexual revolution of the 1960s, Huxley anticipated more rampant drug use. And of course, television and movies were beginning to penetrate more households.
One idea Huxley didn't consider, at least in the pages of his novel, is class warfare. With his world segregated by classes, Wiener found an opportunity to explore a metaphor of wealth inequality, which has come to the forefront in mainstream American politics.
This is played out in the new series in a big way towards the end, when — minor spoilers — John (Alden Ehrenreich) learns that his presence in New London has introduced bold ideas of liberty and freedom to the bottom-rung Epsilon class. The Epsilons make John into a kind of folk hero.
"Huxley doesn't engage with what it's like to be an Epsilon, ever. You don't meet those people," Wiener says. "But our show would feel incomplete if we didn't. What happens when they engage with John, the Epsilons analyze if they are really happy. They've been conditioned to perform functions but once they're open to the idea of something else, it has a big effect on them."
Adds Wiener, "I think it would feel untrue if we were to let the Epsilons go on without any consideration of fairness. It's a big part of the story at the end."
With Brave New World having just made it to the newly-launched Peacock, it remains to be seen what the future holds for the series. Despite its origins as a prescient science fiction novel, no one can truly predict the future of streaming TV. But it was that brave new world of streaming that took even Wiener by surprise.
Upon its launch, the show was noted for its frequent nudity and orgies — graphic stuff that was only in the background of Huxley's novel.
"I was really surprised by how bold they were willing to be," Wiener says of the graphic content in the Peacock series. "They understood you couldn't serve the novel in a way that wasn't bold or didn't have sexuality as a major part of it. They were really game to push those limits."
There were, of course, still conversations about "what we were going to show and how to show it." But Wiener placed importance on the show's depiction of sex not always being binary and heterosexual. "That was more important. We had discussions on that more than just sex."
It was also important to emphasize an important theme in Huxley's book: The abundance of pleasure dulls the senses. "When we first show sex, it's glossy and beautiful," Wiener says of the first episode's "pleasure garden" that featured hundreds of extras in a closed-off Gramercy Park in London. "As we continue to show the experience of living in New London, we see it [become] soul-sapping on some level. You evolve that commentary and make it mean something new."
Brave New World streaming now on Peacock.