• The Wall in the dystopian French series Trepalium. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Who knows what the future is going to look like. These international series give their predictions.
Jeremy Cassar

11 Jul 2016 - 8:25 AM  UPDATED 12 Jul 2016 - 8:49 AM

For those out of the latest loop, Trepalium is that big-budget dystopian series currently streaming at SBS On Demand that paints a grim (yet undeniably gripping) picture of future Paris.

To celebrate this ambitious addition to the televisual universe, we think it’s fitting to take a look at how various other countries have depicted the future on TV.


Trepalium (France)

The City of Love is a shadow of the passionate diaspora it once was. The employed 20 percent make up the upper class and live in a shiny, Emerald City-like haven, and the remaining 80 percent remain in poverty and squalor, forced to rely on a (not so) random lottery for any hope of a better life.

Considering the post-crisis unemployment rates in European cities like Greece and Spain, it’s relatively easy to see where the creators got their inspiration.


Ocean Girl (Australia)

Ocean Girl may have been created for the younglings, but it often entered waters deep enough to engage adult audiences.

In a future Port Douglas, a young girl named Neri (Marzena Godecki) boasts a close bond with water, as well as almost super-human strength. As the series progresses, we discover that Ocean Girl is from another planet, and that her late father had come to Earth with a particular goal in mind.

That goal? To fix the goddamn oceans of Earth. This 1990s series was onto global warming before DiCaprio had ever heard of a glacier, and Ocean Girl spends the rest of the series battling evil scientists in order to finish what her father had started - repairing the oceans damaged by humans.


Black Mirror (UK)

Charlie Brooker’s brilliant anthology of speculative futures deserves an entire article unto itself, as it takes existing technologies or trends to various disturbing, ingenious extents.

From a world where all humans can replay any moment of their lives through an interactive recording implant, to a future where you can purchase a blank, synthetic replica of your late husband then reconstruct his personality from his user data – Black Mirror sees seeds in our current world and imagines how they’ll grow.

As we await a third season that’s set in the States as opposed to the UK, we can expect more of Brooker’s frustrated warnings delivered through high-concept, big-brained entertainment.


Astro Boy (Japan)

Before its well-known 1980s remake, Astro Boy was a successful '60s show based on Osamu Tezuka’s manga, far less cutesy in style and more brutal in its detail of a world co-inhabited by humans and robots.

Poor ol’ Astro is created by some politician/scientist named Doctor Tenma - a man whose son had recently passed. When Tenma realises Astro is nothing like his late son (duh), the young robot is sold off to a circus, forced to fight in cage matches with other robots.

Luckily, by the end of the first episode, Astro has discovered his various superpowers and saved his fellow freaks from the bad guys, single-handedly leading to the end of robot slavery.

The stage is then set for Astro to spend each week saving the world from an anti-robot human, a robot turned evil or whichever monster-of-the-week is getting all up in Astro’s face - all in the name of peace.


Real Humans (Sweden)

Speaking of robots, the 2012 Swedish sci-fi series Äkta människor places us in the lives of humanoid robots, or man-made androids they call "hubots".

Most hubots stand at the station of servant or menial worker, though some are taken as illegal lovers. Pro and anti-hubot groups butt heads and philosophies over the worth of this other population - a debate that’s obviously reminiscent of our globe’s many refugee crises.

To make things more complicated, many of the first hubots are pulling a Pinocchio on “real humans” and growing genuine feelings and individualistic goals.


Lexx (Germany/Canada)

A wacky take on the future from Canadian/German co-producers, Lexx follows a motley crew of misfits as they edge the spacecraft they call home through various universes.

An erratic four-season show that hopped from serious to light and dark comedy, and broke its own rules (magic, anyone?), Lexx is coveted by hardcore sci-fi fans. Don’t call Lexx a poor copy of Farscape as you’ll quickly learn that the former was produced two years prior to the latter.

Though plots and characters are often as out-there as those encountered during a Doctor Who marathon, this isn’t some off-the-cuff storyworld – it’s a future with its own set of rules, beliefs and materials, all of which remain for fans to figure out and pick apart.


Occupied (Norway)

The most expensive Norwegian television show to date, Okkupert hurls us into a near-future Norway as the Russians move in to restore its oil production.

Why would Russia need to occupy Norway over oil? Turns out those pesky environmentalists that make up the Green Party have successfully put a halt to the production of Norwegian oil.

Do not deprive the modern man of his oil - the ravages of climate change shall do nothing to quench his thirst.

This near-future hits home fairly hard, forcing us to consider the inevitable choices mankind must make when it comes to the sustainability of our planet.


The Tribe (New Zealand)

Before you call this entry obscure, know that many a teenage Kiwi stuck around for all 260 of its episodes.

Why wouldn’t they? It’s a future where adults don’t exist and the youth have separated into allied or opposing tribes. Differentiating themselves with names such as "the Technos" and "the Mall Rats", the tribes of The Tribe served as a guilty pleasure for teenage audiences.

An ambitious offering for teenagers that ran for five seasons, The Tribe was eventually cancelled when the cast and audience outlived the ages of the characters.


If that whet your appetite for some quality speculative entertainment, satiate those cravings with the full series of Trepalium currently streaming at SBS On Demand.

Check out the first episode below:

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