Was E-Corps Responsible for the Pandering of Last Night's #HackingRobot?


Last night, I was excited, not only was there going to be an episode of my favorite show, but there was going to be a network version of the after show Hacking Robot including most of the major cast members and promising the answer to Twitter questions from the larger audience.

Instead, we got a mostly pandering, People magazine style, TMZ interactive experience. This truly shocked me, given the meticulous detail that Sam Esmail puts into even the tiniest Easter Egg and even his advertisements for the show.

It was even more shocking because the 1000's of Mr. Robot enthusiasts that I interactive are very deeply involved in theorizing and thinking deeply about the show.

And yes, I apologize, I will get to the "Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord" recap as soon as I finish this. It takes 4-6 hours to do each recap and I just can't take staying up until 4 am to do them anymore.

Anyway, I realize this #HackingRobot show might have been an exercise in drawing more casual viewers, but if that is the case, why wasn't it advertised? Anyway, here is what I posted on Reddit last night

The Careless Massacre of Hard Earned Credibility

So, on a show where 1000's of people spend 1000's of hours discussing countless possible theories of what is happening on Mr. Robot, these are the questions that the aftershow felt were pressing to answer (if I miss a word or two apologies):

  • What was Angela's most badass moment?
  • If Darlene could erase the 5/9 hack, would she? (the best by far, still not great..but good)
  • Christian, if you could play any other part aside from Mr. Robot would it be and why?
  • Is Tyrell alive? It's been very heart-wrenching (as if any cast member could answer this question without getting fired)
  • What does Dom do for fun? Does she even have any friends?

Oh, and let us not forget to include a wacky Gag Reel, for an aftershow of an episode that ended with a Dark Army attack on FBI suspects and started with talk of China taking over the Congo.

Nice pandering. Seriously, really impressive pandering. And making the aftershow so shallow is kind of insulting to the many serious fans IMHO.

I know I sent a serious question in response to something they actually said in the first back and forth to #HackingRobot - did anyone else?

There were a few great moments, that B.D Wong interview was greatness and Rami promising that we would learn who was on the other end of the phone.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh, but that show should be all about providing context and deeper understanding for fans, the world has more than enough "People magazine" style after shows, no?

And why not at least integrate The Verge people who have been doing a much better after show all season?

Even More Disappointing

Redditor ahabajo responded with the following:

Look, I get it, the show isn't a rating's juggernaut and perhaps the USA Network pressured you to have a more people friendly show. Maybe the much superior Verge aftershow isn't packing them in like you had hoped. But this is a show opposed to exactly the kind of pandering that makes this kind of marketing so insidious.

Most of the fans that I talk to, and I talk to a lot, love that Mr. Robot is an oasis of different in a sea of sameness. We want to believe that your references to The Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules are social commentary about exactly this kind of pandering to the lowest common denominator. 

And that is the rub, even if we are seriously deluded, we invest in that delusion. We invest hours bantering back and forth about the precise nature of Dissociative Identity Disorder and about Dom and Whiterose because we want the show to matter. 

Even if you have to occasionally sell-out, at least throw your core fans a bone here or there. Playing off pre-scripted questions as authentic in a (supposedly) open environment is the kind of move Phillip Price's and his PR doctors would pull.

When I see half the cast on a show, I want to learn something about the show I didn't already know. It shouldn't be a spoiler, but it should certainly deepen the experience of the episodes that have already aired.

A Few Valuable Take-Aways

There was a really excellent character development vignette with B.D. Wong about Whiterose. Wong explained that he sees Whiterose as a woman who feels forced to compete in a man's world as a man. It really was a well-done vignette.

There was a nice bit of exposition with the set designer who talked about all of the elements that she used to make Elliot's "Mom's House" mimic a jail. Ironically, almost everything she mentioned was exactly what led Redditor extenso to deduce that Elliot was in jail or prison in the middle of episode one (I remember the original post on this - it is referenced in one of my early season recaps).

Rami Malek admitted that we would learn the identity of the mystery caller. It seemed he thought twice about it and then qualified it a bit. He also said that if Stage 2 goes off it would be devastating and then followed with...If stage 2 didn't go off, it would also be devastating.

With the exception of this particular aftershow, I agreed with Carly Chaikin that Season 2 has been superior to Season 1.

Okay, that is all the griping I have to share. I am probably too fiercely committed to the larger Mr. Robot project. It actually upsets me when I feel like it is veering from the course. Perhaps I should remember that it is still a show. I guess I am always hoping for television to live up to what people originally hoped that it would become.

This episode of Hacking Robot came across more like cooptation. It seemed to me a bit like getting together with your cool friends to show off your brand new Che Guevara T-Shirt. 

Anyway, I need to get to writing the actual recap of the episode, sorry for the delay.

What did you think of Hacking Robot?

Am I being too harsh (probably)?

Ask me any genuine questions (as long as they are civil) that you have? I promise no editing or pre-scripted suggestions to your actual questions.

Let me know what you think, leave a comment!