The first trailer for new Jason Momoa drama See has arrived, introducing us to a world where humanity has lost its ability to (ahem) see, but still has a love for horse-riding, earthy tones and high-fashion aesthetics.
Watching the trailer, it’s easy to be intrigued by the premise – two babies with sight are born into a sightless world – but so far, the execution of the central premise seems a little off, at least based on this limited footage. (In the full series, it may be that any concerns are immediately addressed.)
With that in mind, here’s just a few thoughts still running through my mind while the full series remains sight unseen…
How does this world without sight even work?
In the trailer we see a few examples of how humanity has adapted to a life without sight – physical markers to denote distance, using sticks and whips to check the areas in front of them, someone using a guide dog – but other, more fundamental questions are unanswered.
How do humans build structures and huts without the use of their eyes or the ability to read, presumably for multiple generations (the series release mentions “centuries”)? How have they managed to hunt, forage and survive? How is civilisation still so relatively advanced when everyone literally lives in the dark? And, fundamentally…
How has humanity survived?
Yes, some species evolve without the use of much sight – moles, bats etc – but they make up for that thanks to greater sensitivity in their other senses, other abilities humans don’t have (like echolocation) as well as the particular environments they live in.
Humans, by contrast, have evolved to rely heavily on sight at the expense of most other senses – so if it was taken away from literally everyone, wouldn’t humanity just die out? Could humans reliably farm, hunt, move through the world, build and make up for our physical weaknesses (unlike a lot of animals, we’re naturally very vulnerable to exposure) if a key part of our body’s evolution was just stripped away?
And even if we did, would we really still have concepts of leaders, war, weapons and construction? Or, after many generations in the dark, are humans more likely to have regressed to a more primal state? As opposed, to, say, still making cool outfits?
How have they developed a fashion-forward post-apocalyptic tribal aesthetic?
Why do people have cool, symmetrical head-dresses, accessories or weird pointy crowns – nobody can see them! If no-one’s had sight for (an implied) few generations at least, does humanity even have a concept of dressing up, or fashion? And if so, wouldn’t it revolve more around touch, smell and its audible quality rather than something that we would currently call visually arresting?
And who is this person putting on war paint for? Nobody can see them!
Also, how do they ride horses?
Again, presumably this will be addressed in the series, but how do the horses know where to go? Is it more of a partnership deal, and the riders just hope the horses know where they’re going?
And more fundamentally, how did anyone find so many horses, especially considering the horses could see them coming? How did they know where the horses were in the first place? Or did they just have a few left over from when humans could see, and have just had a very effective breeding programme ever since, also carried out without sight?
How do they even know their children can see?
“Something’s different…the children. They have the ability to see,” proclaims Jason Momoa at one point during the trailer. But if they can’t see… how do they know?
Their children aren’t walking about with unusual confidence, or describing their surroundings, at least not at the start (we see them on the run as babies) – so what’s different about a blind baby’s behaviour and a seeing baby? And having never seen anything, ever, how would people know what that was anyway?
LOOK, HOW DOES THIS WORK???
Fundamentally, I believe that humanity could survive without sight. After all, many people do (and thrive) every day around the world, and I’m not arrogant enough to assume that the only way to live your life if the way that I, an able-bodied man, am used to.
But as someone who also finds himself completely thrown out of equilibrium when he misplaces his glasses for an hour, I can’t imagine that any surviving blind human society would exist in a way that remotely resembles a form of our own society, no matter how far back we go.
The world of See – where warriors battle, hunt, have specific territories (presumably), live in tribes, communicate in clear English, ride horses, have recognisable weapons and clothing and building styles, and people sometimes seem to stride about without awareness of their surroundings – doesn’t feel like a world that has organically evolved without sight.
That world would be something unrecognisable and alien to us, and not necessarily something that would make good (visual) TV, so I can see why it isn’t present here. But for now – and I’ll be happy to be proven wrong when the series is released – I can’t help but wish I was reading this story in a book instead. There, I think the premise could be pulled off.
On a screen? Well, I just don’t see it.
See will arrive on 1st November on the Apple TV app