Stephen King Shared His Thoughts On Amazon's Violent Thriller Utopia

utopia rainn wilson in hazmat suit
(Image credit: amazon press)
(Image credit: amazon press)

While many Amazon Prime subscribers would probably agree that The Boys is the most gleefully brutal original series on the streaming service, Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn's recent conspiracy thriller Utopia certainly gives the superhero satire a run for its bloody money. While Amazon doesn't often freely release official viewer stats, it would appear as if Utopia has built up a sizable fanbase for its insanely timely storyline. And it also looks like Flynn can call fellow bestselling author Stephen King among those fans.

Though Stephen King apparently didn't binge-watch the entirety of Utopia's eight-episode first season immediately upon its release, the always-busy horror icon did eventually get around to watching the show, and he was definitely impressed. King took to Twitter to share his thoughts, which you can check out below.

I'm loving Utopia, on Amazon Prime. Might not be everyone's cup of tea, given the times we're living in, but it has the slow build to full steam that I associate with page-turning novels. Horrifying, violent, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny.

Indeed, Stephen King's assessment basically matches up with what I thought about the often unpredictable and exceptionally well-cast series. The subject matter deals with an outbreak causing sudden deaths within the U.S., which has obviously drawn more than a few uncomfortable comparisons to the real world's ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Not to mention the fact that John Cusack plays an affable billionaire businessman with connections to the outbreak, and that Rainn Wilson's in-the-known scientist is consistently kept at arm's length without being able to prove his efficiency. Considering Gillian Flynn started putting this remake project together in 2013 or so - it's a more localized adaptation of the UK series of the same name – the prescience at play in Utopia throughout the season is kind of horrifying in and of itself. At least we don't have prophetic graphic novels in the real world...or do we?

In any case, Utopia might hit a little too close to home for those whose tolerance for pandemic-related narratives has dwindled down to nothing. But for those who do tune in and are able to take those plot beats in stride, the genre-bending series definitely does utilize the slow-burn approach that Stephen King mentioned. And in a way where no characters are necessarily safe from beginning to end, making everyone a potential victim throughout the high-stakes story. (Meanwhile, there are other characters that you just wish would get killed off.)

Somehow, though, beyond all the violence on display in the hyper-deadly premiere and later episodes, Utopia never pulls back on its pitch-black comedic bent, which leads to moments that draw out laughter that one might almost feel guilty about. That definitely happens more than expected with Christopher Denham's quiet and contemplative killer Arby, who could have easily been Sheldon Cooper's maniacal and murderous brother on The Big Bang Theory if that sitcom did indeed give its characters murderous siblings.

This isn't spoiling anything, but one particularly hilarious Utopia moment comes from Gotham vet Cory Michael Smith, whose performance of the line "Motherfuckin' bundt cake!" is one of my favorite quotes from any TV show ever. It was perhaps the one moment in the season where Smith's Thomas Christie seemed most like his former Riddler character. I like to think that Stephen King also chuckled at that one, possibly while writing a story about a telepathic bundt cake. Also, a big thumbs up for the Gone Girl musical reference.

All eight episodes of Utopia are currently available to stream in full on Amazon Prime Video, though no news has come out yet about what's happening with a potential Season 2. While waiting for updates, head to our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule to check out everything hitting the small screen soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.