Lifetime, the channel which is responsible for such classic television as Little Women in L.A. and Dance Moms adds a new science fiction series The Lottery, where the world is a dystopian place where infertility is the rule of the day, along with governmental control, and this could well be the scariest show on television. This futuristic scenario is not set too far ahead in terms of timeline. The show’s events are set in 2025 and the entire world has not seen any newborns for nine years. The cause for this frightening lack of children is unknown.
What makes the show so terrifying is the fact that the plot, apart from the infertility question, makes sense. In a world where drones are allowed to spy on American citizens and the government itself seems to operate just one step behind paranoia, the villains of the show seem all too real. The introductory sequences show that in 2016 birth rates drop and in 2019 the last children in the world are born. Six in total.
The government step in and take control of the situation. A montage of images show empty playgrounds, schools, hospital nurseries, riots and advertisements where sperm donors are encouraged to give samples. The American president gives a speech about a breakthrough and shortly after there is a protest outside a hospital where mandatory fertility testing is being done. To show just how much control those in power want to take, Hayes, along with J. August Richards as another government official, push for the military to manage the eggs so that American female soldiers can be the surrogates.
Marley Shelton stars as Dr. Alison Lennon, the expert who is responsible for the successful fertilization of 100 eggs. Once she accomplishes this, she is fired. Dr. Lennon, it seems, is using the confidential list of sperm donors to have sex with the men. Shelton is one of the most versatile actresses in the business and it is great to see her in this new series. Considering that she has more than a nodding acquaintance with the horror genre, it fits that she would be starring in The Lottery, which may just turn out to be the scariest show on television this year.
The key players in this series are Lennon, the White House Chief of Staff, Vanessa Keller (played by Athena Karkanis), Kyle Walker (played by Michael Graziadei), his son Elvis (Jesse Filkow), and Darius Hayes (Martin Donovan). Hayes is the obvious boogeyman in this scenario, he goes after Dr. Lennon the moment the news is received about the success of the fertilization. While Hayes has learned that Lennon has been misusing the records, he doesn’t know the real reason behind it. The doctor is trying to understand why the procedure suddenly worked.
Vanessa Keller talks the president into holding a lottery for surrogates to carry the fertilized eggs. The irony in this decision is that she uses the exact same argument that her brother gave her for selling fake pregnancy aids which was that he gave, “hope for the average person.” Meanwhile Kyle Walker loses his son because of jealous women who turn him in for being late to pick Elvis up. A governmental agency, a futuristic version of child welfare, take the boy away from his father.
As the pilot proceeds the government’s control becomes more sinister. The murder of an egg donor that Lennon gets in touch with and Walker having to kidnap his own son and becoming a fugitive as a result are just the beginning. This Dionysian control system where the average man and woman have no real control of their lives starts to resemble a nightmare. There is also a connection between Kyle and the murdered woman that makes it seem that Walker’s days with his diabetic son are numbered.
With a storyline featuring a very real-feeling scenario of a government that wants to control everything, The Lottery ends its pilot episode with a huge sense of foreboding. This may just turn into the scariest show on television, all because the events, apart from man’s possible extinction, feel very current and real.
By Michael Smith