Mr. Robot Is Winning Over Fans and Critics with Its Realistic Depiction of the World of Hacking

Christian Slater and Rami Malek in "Mr. Robot." (Photo credit: Peter Kramer/USA Network)

The new USA TV hacker drama “Mr. Robot,” starring Rami Malek, premiered on June 24, 2015 to positive reviews and an estimated 3 million views. Last week’s second episode saw a surge in viewership, showing that fans liked what they saw, making it among the year’s top-rated series launches — number 2, following only “Better Call Saul.” And the third episode just aired Wednesday night.

"Mr. Robot" follows Malek's character Elliot, who is a cyber-security engineer by day, vigilante hacker by night. He's the type of hacker who digs into people's private lives to expose infidelity or alert authorities to criminal acts. In the pilot episode, he's approached by the mysterious leader of an underground hacker group (Christian Slater), who is trying to recruit Elliot to expose the secrets of the conglomerate he's hired to protect.

Wired Magazine recently called “Mr. Robot” the “best hacking show yet,” which is a high compliment considering the number of hacking dramas recently — “CSI: Cyber,” “Scorpion,” and the film “Blackhat,” all of which are dismissed as cyberflops. The reason “Mr. Robot” remains compelling is the writing and a star-making performance by Rami Malek, who gives a glimpse into the psychology of what drives hackers to do what they do.

Wired’s Kim Zetter writes: “Mr. Robot understands the powerful psychological lure that hacking has for people who feel disconnected from, and excessively smarter than, the world around them. It also understands how such intelligence doesn’t necessarily translate into emotional stability or maturity. Elliot may have the skills to take down a powerful corporation, but at his core he’s just a boy pining for a girl; just a son mourning his dead dad.”

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Forbes Magazine talked to “Mr. Robot’s” technical consultant Michael Bazzell, who attributes the show’s authenticity to the showrunner Sam Esmail. The creative team goes to great lengths to make sure the computer coding is accurate, so that even an experienced hacker won’t be taken out of the show’s storyline due to an inaccurate detail.

It was also important not to show hackers in a stereotypical way, as a criminal or evil misfits, as films often do. "In reality, hackers are often simply very smart people that work in groups to bring change," Bazzell says. "Sometimes they are misguided and inappropriate, but they often use their skills to expose hidden details of governments and corporations. Obviously this crosses the line of overexposure often, but most hackers believe that their actions are justified.

“Mr. Robot’s” star, Rami Malek, is an American actor of Arab Egyptian descent who previously has appeared on “24,” “The Pacific,” and “Larry Crowne.” He also played an Egyptian vampire in “The Twilight Series: Breaking Dawn.”

The show also features supporting performances by Azhar Khan as Mobley, Sunita Mani as Trenton, Samrat Chakrabarti as Ron, Aaron Takahashi as Lloyd, and Vaishnavi Sharma as Elliot’s mother.

It has already been renewed for a second season. Watch “Mr. Robot” on XFINITY, and see what the hype is all about!

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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