• Nude bares all at SBS On Demand and SBS VICELAND (SBS VICELAND)
Like Black Mirror meets Monty Python, a new series offers a stripped down version of France’s future.
By
Maria Lewis

4 Sep 2018 - 4:24 PM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2018 - 9:57 AM

Waking from a coma in a hospital bed only to find the world has irrevocably changed in your absence is a familiar storytelling device. It’s how one of the greatest zombie films of all time – 28 Days Later – began, with Cillian Murphy stumbling into the streets of London and confronted with the infected. New SBS comedy Nude also begins with a man waking from a coma, but he's awoken to a world far more horrific interesting.

In French series Nude, entering this brave new world begins with a butt. A very nice, toned butt that belongs to a man who’s pictured completely naked and jogging through the countryside alongside a river. The only thing baring any semblance to an item of clothing is a clear, plastic bum-bag (snort) cinched around his waist. We never see the man’s face, but he seems perfectly at ease as he passes two men fishing near the water’s edge – both naked as well – and casually waves in greeting.

It’s a shock to viewers initially, although maybe not those familiar with SBS’s later night viewing. It’s an even bigger shock to Frank Fish, a police inspector who wakes up naked in hospital after spending eight years in a coma. He took a bullet on the job for his female partner, with the heroic act propelling him into a France he doesn’t recognise any more.

“Welcome to the new world, darling,” his mother explains, breasts out as she stands alongside his father and doctor: all completely nude.

The year is 2026 and in the nearly decade-long period that he has been unconscious, The Transparency Law has been passed. “For security reasons, we must all be naked in public,” one character explains, with the mantra ‘Liberty, Equality, Nudity’. Perhaps strangely, it’s not that different from the Three Laws of robotics established by science-fiction author Isaac Asimov and depicted in the film iRobot. Although there’s considerably less bush in the Will Smith blockbuster, both Nude and iRobot share a lot of similarities: the time periods are similar, both have an ‘every man’ cop trying to adapt to the future, and there’s a pioneer of the new world order who shows up dead under mysterious circumstances. Yet the most significant similarity is the question of whether the society depicted is a utopia or dystopia?

The smiling and stark characters would have you believe the former, but throwaway comments hint at a darker reality set to be explored in later episodes. There’s a nurse who asks for a selfie with Fish just minutes after he has woken up from his coma, telling him it’s likely to “get 150 Kisses on View”. There’s the termination of publicly accessible health care and salaries have been erased all together, meaning the medical professionals at the hospital have to rely on tips and freelance work to stay afloat. There’s no more meat and the increased temperatures from climate change see that wearing clothes isn’t as chilly as it could be … but the city is also flooded with immigrants from Monaco after it went “underwater”. It’s like a George Orwellian version of the future, with significantly more testicles.

French actor Satya Dusaugey – better known to Aussie audiences for his role in Nicole Kidman’s Grace Of Monaco – is the perfect vessel for the audience, with his performance delivered through grunts, screams, and horrified stares as Fish deals with the absurdity of 2026 without the use of his vocal chords as they’re still in recovery from the coma. It makes for great comedy, hitting that sweet spot between an episode of Black Mirror and the tone of Monty Python, with one scene involving Fish’s therapist trying to seriously discuss his mental state. “What’s your relationship to the truth?” he asks, while behind him a completely naked man is cleaning the outside window. “Do you have an issue with transparency?” he presses, as Fish points open-mouthed at the limp penis just metres away. “Do you have problems with nudity?” If viewers have an issue with nudity, it’s safe to say a show called ‘Nude’ is probably not for them. Yet for everyone else, there’s a refreshing sense of equality as bodies of all ages, races, shapes and sizes are displayed without bias. Almost as bizarre as the central premise, it’s interesting to note that one of the year’s most pointed examinations of politics and society just so happens to come in the vessel of complete and utter nudity.

Nude reveals itself to audiences SBS Friday 7 September at 9:35pm on SBS VICELAND, but it bares all with every episode dropping at SBS On Demand on Thursday 6 September:

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