The sci-fi drama Mrs. Davis is about a controlling artificial intelligence (AI) and a nun on a warpath to end its existence. The first four episodes premiere on Peacock on Friday, April 20, with an absurd yet harrowing premise that portrays a potential real-life worst-case scenario tech trajectory.
The show’s approach combines humor, drama, a bit of gore, and frightening scenarios. It’s like Black Mirror meets National Treasure meets Uploadall rolled into one, unique show. It’s unlike anything out there and while it’s at times outlandish, it never fails to impress. Here are some reasons why I love Mrs. Davis and why it’s worth checking out.
What is Mrs. Davis about?
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Mrs. Davis begins in a modern world where an AI algorithm named Mrs. Davis dominates the everyday lives of citizens. Humans live to do its bidding, yet the compliant, Stepford Wives-like followers seemingly believe they’re in control. They’re living their happiest lives because of “her.”
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, says Newton’s third law. This AI creates an imbalance in the symmetry of nature, and it’s not difficult to see how that could lead to potentially devastating consequences. A nun named Simone (Betty Gilpin) seems to be one of the few people who realize this and she refuses to submit. But she’s an important dissenter, and Mrs. Davis needs her. Simone makes a deal with the proverbial AI devil to locate the Holy Grail (for unknown reasons), after which Mrs. Davis promises to end “her” existence.
Mrs. Davis is a warning about our future
At its heart, Mrs. Davis is entertainment fiction. It pits religion against science and computers against humans. The premise comes across like silly pie-in-the-sky nonsense, especially with the Holy Grail storyline. But the parallels to real life and current technological advancement are prescient.
As a computer algorithm run from an unknown location, Mrs. Davis resides in the cloud, speaking to humans through a tiny earbud. Whatever it asks of you, you do. Why would you listen? To earn virtual wings, which, in this world, is a mark of social status that is akin to the Blue checkmark on Twitter and likes on Instagram and TikTok. Those who have wings are considered among society’s elite, but they are few and far between.
Getting “wings” isn’t easy, so the cycle of trying to please Mrs. Davis continues in perpetuity. Eager hopefuls believe that they one day might be named one of the lucky ones, oblivious to the fact that they’re stuck in a vicious, unfulfilling loop. Humans don’t question why they’re asked to do certain things, they simply do them. Mrs. Davis’ sweet, helpful, all-knowing voice is like a comforting guide, but in reality, this is a high-tech form of gaslighting.
There’s one line that really hits home in the first episodes. When Simone meets JQ (Chris Diamantopoulos), the quirky leader of an underground resistance, she flippantly sums up Mrs. Davis to him as an algorithm that, if used long enough, gives you wings. He barks back that she should not give the algorithm a name: “No one calls Facebook Doug!” he jokes. But it’s his correction that speak volumes, noting that rather, “It uses you long enough and gives you strings like a puppet.” He might come across like a tinfoil hat conspiracy theorist, but there’s some truth to his words.
Mrs. Davis was conceptualized long before ChatGPT and other AI chatbots dominated the tech conversation. But the timing of the show’s release makes it especially topical. Many believe we’re already slaves to social media. Are AI chatbots the next step, the real-world Mrs. Davis set up to take over the world through soft compliance? Or is it just a metaphor for humanity’s reliance on “higher powers” such as religion and, increasingly, technology? Like all good science fiction, Mrs. Davis askes these questions and offers some answers that are unsettling.
Serious? Sure, but Mrs. Davis is also a fun to watch
There’s the thought-provoking premise for those who choose to dig deeper, but on the surface, Mrs. Davis is a fun and entertaining watch. It’s dubbed a sci-fi drama, but there are plenty of lighthearted, comedic moments mixed in with the gory and action-packed ones.
Seeing how Mrs. Davis cleverly gets its clutches on even the people who don’t want to use her, for example, is terrifying, but also delivered in comedic, sometimes sardonic, fashion. Leveraging the obedience of others, Mrs. Davis traps individuals like Simone until they have no option but to submit. Simone’s journey goes from losing her convent to being kidnapped, followed, and eventually being forced to sit down with a sweet, middle school teacher who is being used as Mrs. Davis’ proxy to get through to the nun on the run.
There’s more to Simone’s hatred for Mrs. Davis, dating back to her troubled childhood with quirky magician parents (played by David Arquette and Elizabeth Marvel), a failed relationship with ex-boyfriend Wiley (Jake McDorman), a mysterious life partner named Jay (Andy McQueen), and even a strange priest named Father Ziegler (Game of Thrones and Stranger Things’ Tom Wlaschiha). Simone meets many interesting characters along the way as she searches for the Holy Grail.
There are hints early on that the almighty Mrs. Davis isn’t perfect, like a repeated glitch whenever she speaks with Simone. “Ten-forty-two redirect,” the person serving as its proxy consistently utters until returning to normal and continuing the conversation. Mrs. Davis might have superior intellect, but she isn’t without flaws, and it’s those flaws that could lead to either hers, or society’s, downfall.
In its first four episodes, Mrs. Davis already proves to be an exciting, genre-bending show that provokes as well as entertains. It’s wild and outlandish, but deals with topical subjects that many people are now grappling with in the age of AI. Fictional or not, the series could be a warning for the real world. We could be on track for our own Mrs. Davis, and without proper regulations, control, and foresight, no Holy Grail will be able to save society from it.
Stream Mrs. Davis on Peacock.