Network: FX
Season: 1 (Mini-series)
Where to Watch: FX on Hulu

People come to television in search of many different experiences. There’s the hangout show; most typically a comedy, it involves characters hanging out and shooting the breeze. There’s the prestigious show; which often features a high-profile actor or creator with weighty material that feels Important. However, when it comes to FX and Hulu’s Devs, the show is far more of a, shall we say, mood or experience than it is anything else.

Entirely written and directed by sci-fi wunderkind Alex Garland (Ex Machina), Devs can be exceedingly difficult to explain, but I’ll do my best to do so without giving the whole thing away: The show focuses on a Silicon Valley tech company named Amaya, whose development team (get it?) is working on a secret project at the behest of CEO Forest (Nick Offerman). Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno) is drawn deeper into the mystery of the project after the sudden and inexplicable suicide of her boyfriend, who had just started a new role with the team. 

This is about as straightforward as Devs gets, as it soon turns into a weighty treatise on free will, determinism, and the evils of corporate greed. If you’re excited by any of those themes, congrats, you’re going to absolutely love Devs. The show never lacks in ambition, diving deep into big ideas and concepts. It’s not a passive show either. Instead, it rightfully demands your attention with every beautifully composed shot. Far and away the best-looking show to have aired in 2020, the visuals of Devs frequently evoke Kubrick in their framing and staging. Additionally, Garland manages to make the well-worn landscape of San Francisco feel as alien as The Shimmer did in Annihilation. The show isn’t without its fits and spurts, however. It’s purposefully methodical in its intentions and storytelling, which means this deliberate pace certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. If it is yours, however, Devs offers a singularly unique experience that is exactly what we need from our stories.

The thing with mood-based television is that its success ultimately comes down to whether or not you’re willing to take a specific journey with a very purposeful creator. For those willing, following Garland down his rabbit hole will find a new Wonderland, one you’ve likely never seen before. So many of the show’s moments have lingered in my mind long after airing, beautifully imprinted like a tapestry adorning a wall. That is to say: Perhaps Devs isn’t so much an experience as it is a feeling. —William Goodman