25th Nov2019

‘The Unlisted’ Review (Netflix Original)

by Rhys Payne


The Unlisted is a Netflix original drama series that follows the lives of two twins as they combat the rule of an evil CEO who is trying to gain control to children in schools across the world. This is a show for, and about, teenagers as the majority of the story revolves around the school the twins attend.

The  show brings a form of religion into centre stage without it being a show ‘aboutʼ religion or advocating a belief system. The Unlisted opens with the twins and their family celebrating Diwali, which is a religious holiday celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists which helps establishes main of the key themes in this show such as family, relationships and food. The inclusion of culture and religion helps raise awareness on religion without it being an evangelical show hoping to convert instead it is just used as the backdrop to the action.

Each episode uses an interesting intro song which is a clear reference to the Pink Floyd song We Don’t Need No Education but it has been altered to be more mysterious than the original song. This is an incredible song choice as the discussion of education and the idea of tension perfectly encapsulates the entire show and so whoever chose this have clearly through about this somewhat minor detail when designing the show.

One of the many fantastic things about The Unlisted is that the episodes are only an average 20 minutes long which makes this show very easy to watch. It also allows this show to be great for binge-watching, in fact, it would be very difficult to watch this show casually as each episode contains minor details that help to advance the plot and if you forget any of these it is very easy to get confused. The only drawback to these short episodes is that the storyline does, at times, appeared rushed.

The Unlisted is set in Australia in a world very similar to the one with life today. Everything about the setting in the series in relatable, they live in a normal house, they have a normal family, they attend a normal school etc. Even the method the antagonists in this show use to take control over the young people is an incredibly believable and realistic way. While this is supposed to make it relatable it could come across as over done. I found many of the stories point very predictable, as I became so familiar with the characters and the environment that I knew how the show would end.

The Unlisted isnʼt a show that will win Oscars and awards for fantastic portrayals of fantastic characters but I think thatʼs the point. The show is hyper-real and so it sticks in the mind of the audience and makes them think that what happened in the series could happen in real life. The two boys, who played the roles of twins Dru and Cal, were played by Vrund and Ved Rao respectively. What was great is that the casting team have sourced real twins to play the role of twins in the show! In some series, they opt for people who just look similar but in this case, the Roa sibilings were able to channel a believable and realistic portrayal. This real- life connection allowed them to possess great chemistry that the audience could visibly see throughout. As this show is also hyper- modern there were many references to coding and hacking in the series which is fantastic but the acting of this was done very poorly – but I think I only noticed this as I have experience in this field.

By far my favourite character in The Unlisted was Dadi who was played by Saba Zaidi Abdi who was the grandparent of the two twins. This character starts the series by being the typical kind, caring and soft grandparent (which Saba performed excellently) but by the end, she is a forerunner of the charge against the evil agency who is chipping people. She was hilarious at times, clever and strong at others, which made her character seem very real and well rounded. The writers had developed an incredible character who also had a love of her heritage and culture.

I personally enjoy when shows say the name of the show inside the show. This series did this multiple times as the people fighting against the evil company are called “the unlisted” for obvious reasons. But after a while, this becomes too obvious and repetitive. Repetition was a problem in this show as many scenes just happened over and over again. Not only for the quote ‘unlistedʼ but also for switching the kids on and off which at times was frustrating. It is clear that there will be another series of The Unlisted and I encourage everyone to watch season one if you are interested in hyper-real shows that offer a diverse and realistic perspective.

***½  3.5/5

The Unlisted is available on Netflix now.


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