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Peacock’s Brave New World review: Chilling dystopia in Ikea gray

When I first read Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s famous 1932 novel, I expected something fusty and old-fashioned. I wasn’t prepared for how scathingly direct or unsettlingly dark it was, and still is.

The new TV adaptation, available from July 15 on NBC’s streaming service Peacock, re-examines the story for a modern age. It certainly adds a dash of cursing, a touch of violence, some Radiohead and a load of people getting their kit off. But it lacks a certain directness. The Handmaid’s Tale is about sexism. Watchmen is about racism. Westworld is about robots in cowboy hats. Brave New World is about genetic engineering, but it’s also about social conditioning, and over-medication, or the loss of intimacy, or possibly technology and surveillance, and also maybe socialism is bad?

WATCHGUIDE: Brave New World

Aldous Huxley’s scathing novel came before George Orwell’s 1984 and presents a sort of flip side to Orwell’s infamous dystopia. Orwell imagined a viciously totalitarian future, and even today, the mention of Big Brother is never far away as authoritarian governments come to the fore. Huxley, meanwhile, imagined a world of repression rather than oppression, a world where we’re all too happy to be distracted from our subjugation. Now nearly a century old, Huxley’s vision was perhaps more prescient as we sleepwalk into a brave new world of our own.

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