What TV and Films Set in the Future Say About Our Outlook on the Years to Come

There’s a common sentiment 2020 has brought upon people across the world—it feels like we’re living in a movie. For the US in particular, the COVID-19 pandemic, tension around racial inequities, and a divisive Presidential election are the protagonists of the story. While these issues hold our attention from day to day, there’s one thing eating away at us as it lurks in the back of our minds. How’s it all going to end?!

That’s not a terribly different feeling from watching a suspenseful movie, right? We may get swept up in the story, but we stick around to see how things come together, or don’t, by the end. What’s going to happen next becomes less clear when the story is based in the future, outside of the cause and effect scenarios we’ve become so familiar with.

Unlike 2020, movies are made up. Rather than watching the news to witness this wild ride, people harness their imaginations to suggest what could happen 15 to 1000 years from now. They dream up how technology could evolve. They look at the societal norms that might crumble, and the ways in which humans’ motivation could transform. They explore how the world could end, and what would happen if it did.

TV and film set in the future is a peek into how humans envision the years to come. Will it be good? Are we doomed? Is it full of things we never could have dreamt of? Let’s explore.

End of the World

HBO's new series Raised by Wolves begins on a particularly damning note: the re-settling of surviving groups following a great war that led to the end of Earth as we know it. The end of the world theme may seem like an obvious route given today’s climate, but it’s not new.

The 2011 film Melancholia also takes a look at the end of the world, except it hasn’t ended just yet. Unlike Raised by Wolves, which revolves around two androids on a mission to grow a colony on an unknown planet in the wake of another ending, Melancholia follows two sisters who cope with their day-to-day lives as a planet hurdles toward an inevitable collision course with Earth. They’re all dealing with the end of their worlds, but from different angles.


Technology Is Taking Over

Our world is the most technologically advanced it has ever been. Anyone who can read (or just listen), has heard the warnings of how technology can go wrong. That’s why it’s natural for many looking toward the future to identify technology as a major factor in how things turn out, whether it's good or bad.

The cult classic Netflix series Black Mirror explores new, twisted scenarios of how technology changes the world in every single episode. The final episode of the first season is set in the year 2050, where technology can record people’s audiovisual senses so anyone can rewatch their memories.

Meanwhile, AMC's original series Soulmates, which was created by one of the writers of Black Mirror, is set only 15 years in the future at a time when a single test can tell you exactly who your soulmate is. Just like we have technology today that we didn't have decades ago, these stories tell us that this evolution will continue at an ever-increasing pace—the bigger the advancements, the greater their impact.

Societal Undoing

It’s difficult to see how reliant we are on societal constructs until they’re changed or removed entirely. Think about The Handmaid’s Tale. This is a world where the minority of fertile women are forced into reproductive rituals that leave them impregnated with the children of the highest class in society, The Commanders and their wives. How did we even get to a world like this? It starts with an attack that kills the President of the United States and nearly all of Congress. Then there’s the suspension of the Constitution and the censorship of the media. Talk about killing constructs.

Utopia, Amazon Prime’s original series brought to the screen by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, uses a cryptic comic to predict the demise of humanity. The horrific and somehow funny series forces us to look at how large scale corporations and the world’s richest individuals have the power to shift life as we know it. That might sound like what goes down today, but trust me, this is a much darker, far-reaching, frightening look at the grip of power on society.


In sum, TV and Film set in the future tell us that anything is possible in the years to come. The ultimate outcome of those possibilities could be good, bad, or just plain unbelievable.

If that's your thing, check out the series premiere of Soulmates, available now for free on amc.com, and the AMC app for mobile and devices.

Soulmates airs Mondays 10/9c on AMC. Get early access when you sign up for AMC Premiere.

For the latest news, sneak peeks, exclusive interviews, and behind the scenes videos, sign up for the Soulmates Insider’s Club.