Amazon’s Transparent has racked up a small mountain of awards (2 Golden Globes and a whopping 8 Emmys in 2015, another 3 Golden Globe nominations coming up in 2016) and another Amazon half-hour, Mozart in the Jungle is also up for 2 awards this coming Golden Globes. That all said, Amazon’s most popular show is actually one of its hour dramas, the just-released Man in the High Castle, based on the 1962 Philip K. Dick novel, set in an alternate ’62 in which the Nazis won WWII, and have subsequently taken over the eastern half of the United States, and renamed them the Greater Nazi Reich. The Japanese, meanwhile occupy America’s West Coast, now called the Japanese Pacific States, with the Rocky Mountains serving as a neutral zone.
Today, Amazon announced that within one month, Man in the High Castle has become the streaming service’s most-watched show ever. So it was basically a given that the show would be renewed for a second season, the green light was given last week, and so in 2016 we’ll get 10 more episodes of alternate history creepiness/awesomeness.
So what’s the secret sauce behind the show’s massive success? First of all, there’s an A+ team bringing the series to life. Film geeks know that this is not the first time Ridley Scott has adapted the material of Philip K. Dick, Scott brought another one of Dick’s novels, Blade Runner, to the big screen in 1982. In fact, Dick passed the year that Blade Runner hit screens, so we’ll never know what he would have thought of Amazon’s Man in the High Castle, though we think he would have gotten a kick out of binge-watching culture, something he absolutely would have written about in his dystopic sci-fi novels. We also think Dick would have loved creator Frank Spotnitz, an X-Files alum who has completely captured the creepiness of a Nazi-run New York City.
In addition to the 100-emoji team behind Man on the High Castle, the show thrives on fulfilling the promise of its terrifying premise. It is the straight-up creepiest to hear Nazis speak with American accents, and to see what a Mad Men-era America looks like gasping in the chokehold of Axis fascism. It’s also appropriate that an X-Files alum is behind this adaptation, because, without being too much of a spoiler monster, there is some straight-up reality-bending happening in this already bananas alternate universe.
It makes so much sense that a well-executed what-if premise that turns world history on its head would be a global hit. This is our history gone deeply wrong, or, as Abed from Community would say, our darkest timeline. It’s terrifying to imagine living this reality, but there’s safety in voyeurism. We get to watch the madness unfold without actually having to live it firsthand. The show keeps us on the edge of our seats, and then we are breathing ALL the sighs of relief at the end of each episode that this world is not our own.
Check out the first season of Man in the High Castle, streaming on Amazon now.
(Image via Amazon)