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MR. ROBOT’S Sam Esmail On His Dark and Timely Creation

BY Abbey White

Published 7 years ago

MR. ROBOT'S Sam Esmail On His Dark and Timely Creation

Mr. Robot’s overnight success was surprising to most, but perhaps less so to the series creator Sam Esmail.

Esmail had been working on the pilot for the hacker drama for several years before it managed to get picked up -- on the day the Sony hack was announced no less.

From that point on, his breakout hit climbed to the top of viewers' and critics' must-watch charts and continued to be timely in a way no other series on television has been to date. This type of success is in large part  due to Esmail's uncanny ability to double down on what it means to write a stylish, smart and relatable story.

His appearance this past weekend at New York Comic Con, along with the entire Mr. Robot cast, revealed even more so that recognizing what a good story is and having a little bit of timing can make for the most perfect of television storms.

Before Esmail sat with his cast on the Friday panel at Hammerstein Ballroom, ScreenSpy had the chance to chat with the show creator, writer and director about how he constructed the dark and sharp world of Mr. Robot. 

Here are five things we learned from that discussion.

The Burden of Representation

One of the most interesting aspects of Mr. Robot is how well Elliot’s experience with mental illness is ingrained in the narrative. Shooting and dialogue choices purposely remind us that what Elliot is experiencing may not be the entire truth, but it never undermines him as a person. It’s a rare thing to see mental illness humanized in such a way that any potential for it to serve as a plot device, instead of a story’s lens, is entirely removed.

Because Esmail has written Elliot and his experience so well it sets a new bar for other shows. So does Esmial now feel a certain responsibility associated with being a “trail blazer?” Not really, according to the Mr. Robot creator. In fact, attempting to take on that burden could have a negative affect on his ability to tell his and Elliot’ story as genuinely as possible.

“I think if I started thinking about that that’s when it starts getting into pandering or being dismissive or belittling and I never want to do that,” Esmail stated. “For me I’m just trying to reflect as authentically as I can my experience with it because I’ve had experience with it. Not just with myself, but with my close friends. So I’m just trying to represent that as accurately as possible. If I start getting into thinking how other people are going to react I think that can contaminate it, you know?”

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