Syfy series 'Incorporated' shows corporate-ruled world falling apart from climate change

You think it's bad now? Just wait.

Syfy's Incorporated (Wednesday, 10 ET/PT, with pilot available on Syfy's YouTube channel) is the latest entertainment offering to imagine a miserable authoritarian future, this time with all-powerful corporations taking over from failed governments and ruling a planet decaying rapidly from climate change. 

It's "the dystopian world that I see ourselves moving toward rapidly. To be able to take on the challenge of living in that world and trying to explore that world is very intriguing to me," says Dennis Haysbert (24The Unit), who plays Julian, the intimidating enforcer for Spiga Biotech, one of the global giants.

Incorporated, set in 2074, centers on rising executive Ben Larson (Sean Teale, Reign), who advises Spiga boss (Julia Ormond, Mad MenSabrina) — she's also his mother-in-law — even as he infiltrates the organization on behalf of an opposition group.

Incorporated, produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, is one of a number of recent TV shows and films to explore an authoritarian, post-apocalyptic or environmentally degraded world. They include Mr. RobotThe Walking DeadDivergentElysium and Snowpiercer, with The Handmaid's Tale coming to Hulu in 2017.  

Haysbert expects more will come, as entertainment reflects cultural anxieties. "There's going to be a deluge of post-apocalyptic, dystopian films coming out, because we are headed toward that," he says. "It's always prudent to show you what the extreme negative can be so we can really try to push forward the positive in our real lives."

Incorporated, which was screened at the United Nations, connects to a long dystopian tradition that can be traced back decades to such films as Fritz Lang's Metropolis in 1927. It shares themes with many novels, films and TV shows, including:

Corporatism. In Incorporated, companies such as Spiga protect and provide for employees in a dangerous, ecologically diminished world while demanding unquestioning loyalty. (Similar themes explored in: The Fifth ElementWall-EMetropolisBlade Runner)   

Surveillance society. Spiga employees undergo electronic body scans upon arrival and departure from work and Julian asks Ben about a program that allows the Big Brother-like examination of people's dreams. (1984Mr. Robot,Person of Interest

Climate change/Environmental destruction. Global warming and pollution have wreaked havoc on Incorporated's Earth, with Iceland as a beach destination, a melted Arctic ice cap  and limited food offerings under tight corporate control. (SnowpiercerThe 100The Day After TomorrowWaterworldA Boy and His Dog and Soylent Green)   

Reproduction/Fertility issues/Eugenics. Ben's wife, Laura (Allison Miller, Terra Nova), needs corporate approval in order to become pregnant. (Children of MenThe Handmaid's TaleGattacaTHX 1138, The Lottery, Orphan Black

Class division/Wealth inequality. Ben and Laura live and work in a safe, affluent, clean-bordering-on-sterile Green Zone, with thick walls and heavy security protecting it from the dangerous, decayed Red Zone. (Brave New WorldElysiumMetropolisDark Angel

Decayed, forbidding urban environment. For happy-hour fun, Ben and his Spiga colleagues head to the lawless Red Zone, a grimy, neon-lit place with entertainment focused on sex, drugs and violence. (Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange)

Human trafficking. As part of his secret assignment, Ben is searching for a woman he knew in his youth who may now be a sex slave available for the enjoyment of corporate overlords. (DollhouseWestworld

Reader Comments

Next Up in Entertainment

Kourtney Kardashian, Scott Disick are back together
Kourtney Kardashian, Scott Disick are back together
Kourtney Kardashian has reunited with Scott Disick. According to E! News, the parents of Mason, Penelope and Reign are in a relationship again after...
Radio ratings: Bob FM is Austin’s No. 1 station
Bob is doing a mighty fine job.Austin’s 103.5 KBPA-FM, better known as Bob FM, is — for a second straight month — the city’s No.
Keith Sweat, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Ginuwine, the Whispers to headline 2017 Urban Music Fest
Keith Sweat, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Ginuwine, the Whispers to headline 2017 Urban Music Fest
The Austin Urban Music Festival announced headliners for the 2017 fest, and fans of ’90s R&B should be mighty pleased to see  is...
Chip and Joanna Gaines' pastor responds to report saying church has anti-gay stance
Chip and Joanna Gaines' pastor responds to report saying church has anti-gay stance
"Fixer Upper" fans truly love Chip and Joanna Gaines for more than their renovation skills, but this news might be quite shocking to some.
Veterans of Uchi and Hopdoddy open East Austin Chinese restaurant Old Thousand Sunday
Veterans of Uchi and Hopdoddy open East Austin Chinese restaurant Old Thousand Sunday
The Hot Pot at Old Thousand. (Credit: Kristin Vrana) Despite all of its growth during the past decade, East Austin still has dining niches that need...
More Stories

You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of free premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on