The divisive second season of HBO’s Westworld is officially over, leaving fans left with more questions than answers. Of course, that’s the beauty of the show: it’s a puzzle that’s ever-evolving, much like the hosts who exist inside the artificial playground for the wealthy. Few shows play with structure, or question the nature of humanity quite as acutely as Westworld. That makes finding suitable substitutes for the show during its off-season tricky, but not impossible.
From dark sci-fi tinged glimpses into the future to shows that perfected the art of the jaw-dropping twist before Dolores was even a twinkle in her creator’s eye, these 10 shows will keep you theorizing until Westworld returns for season three.
The world of Humans isn’t so different from our own, aside from the must-have piece of tech that every home needs: Synths. Synths are more than just helpful devices. They’re synthetic people who are programmed to be companions and homemakers. Think servants with an off switch. As you might expect, there’s more to these human-like devices than meets the eye. And that’s exactly what Laura (Katherine Parkinson) fears when her husband brings one home in the first episode.
Black Mirror resurrected the episodic anthology genre with its twisted tales of technology gone awry. From a shocking first season episode that highlights the public’s desensitization to violence to the gentle humanity of season three’s “San Junipero,” each episode of Black Mirror is its own thing. After soaking up a series as serialized as Westworld, the episodic style feels refreshing.
Long before Westworld came along, Lost was mastering the art of telling stories across multiple timelines, introducing shocking twists, and questioning what it means to be human. For six seasons, the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 struggled to survive on and off the island. Thanks to the smoke monster, an unexpected trip through time, and an unforgettable third season finale, Lost remains the ultimate puzzle box series.
Like Black Mirror, Electric Dreams is an anthology series with an emphasis on technology. However, its stories are notably more optimistic. With some episodes set in deep space and others tackling supernatural tropes like UFOs, there’s no shortage of variety, and thanks to a deep bench of actors including Bryan Cranston, Maura Tierney, Richard Madden, Steve Buscemi, and Anna Paquin, the performances are always top notch.
Two children go missing in a German town. What follows is a suspenseful and twisting narrative that takes viewers to 1986 and back again. Dark secrets are exposed, questions about the nature of time are pondered, and the lives of a town full of deeply interconnected people are changed by the disappearances. To say more would be spoiling the fun of this rich drama.
Part of what makes Westworld such an interesting, but also disturbing, series is the way it forces viewers to think about what it feels like to be stripped of your autonomy. The Handmaid’s Tale takes this reality to new and more horrifying heights. An ultra-conservative regime takes control of the United States, and fertile women serve as handmaids for society’s wealthy couples. Offred is one of the handmaids, and her story is an unsettling window into a world where a woman’s worth is tied entirely to her body.
HBO’s critically-acclaimed series The Leftovers follows the people left behind after 140 million people disappear in a rapture-like event. Those who remain are left to question where their loved ones went and why they weren’t taken too. In order to cope, some people join cults, while others simply try to recreate the families they had. Ultimately, The Leftovers doesn’t answer the big questions inherent in its premise so much as it asks you to contemplate them.
Like Westworld, rich people pay to use the people in the Dollhouse however they wish. But unlike the hosts, these people are all too human. It takes a few episodes to get going, but Joss Whedon’s story about a corrupt organization and a group of people who prove that a mind can’t be erased is thought-provoking. What starts as an action-adventure series becomes something much richer by the end of its second and final season.
Is it the wild west setting that draws you to Westworld? Then Netflix’s miniseries, Godless, is the perfect follow-up to season two. Set in a small mining town run by women, an outlaw takes refuge among them. As you can imagine, he brings trouble to their oasis in the process. However, these women have seen worse than the criminals who descend on their home.
While the hosts in Westworld are beginning to understand that they possess consciousness, the people in Sense 8 are operating an entirely different level. They literally see the world through another person’s eyes. This thought-provoking and sensual series about a group of people from around the world who discover that they share a mental connection is unique, absorbing, and will challenge you to embrace new perspectives.
Dig in Westworld fans, because these 10 heady series are just waiting to become your next obsession!