The Lottery (Lifetime) Series Premiere Review “Pilot”

The Lottery Season 1 Premiere 2014 Pilot 11

Despair looms large in The Lottery premiere; too large as a matter of fact.

Set a mere 11 years in the future, an infertility crisis has left the world in shambles. There are only half a dozen six-year-olds left in the world and no children have been born since them. Granted, American birth rates did decline in 2013 for a number of reasons, most of which were related to choice not chance, but for mass hysteria to grip the nation to the point that it has in The Lottery, it feels as if the writers should have pressed further into the unknown.

With this dystopian vision of America set so close to our own timeline the behavior of many of the characters is improbable at best. For instance, the first character we meet is Dr. Alison Lennon, who is introduced to us in a bar where she is seducing a man with a high possibility of being fertile in order to impregnate herself. Had her actions been for science, I would not be griping, but later in the episode, Alison reveals to a woman whose embryo Alison successfully fertilized in her lab that she was adopted, and the pair sympathized with one another about not knowing where they came from.

Alison is just one of several female characters who has gone baby crazy. Men proposition women by boasting about how fertile they are, the brother of the President’s Chief of Staff sells counterfeit fertility pills and the woman at the school where Elvis, one of the world’s last remaining six year olds, coo over the kid like their ovaries have hijacked their brains. Granted Elvis is an adorable kid, but unless Pixar shuttered their doors when this crisis set in, I have a hard time believing every woman is panicking over the lack of births. And if they are, why are all of the male characters unfazed by what is happening to the point where they only see the infertility as a business or sexual opportunity? The Lottery meet misogyny; misogyny, this is The Lottery.

Presumably, there are still children, just none younger than six. While that certainly does not bode well for humanity in the grand scheme of things, does it really warrant the American government turning into a police state? People still have children. They have not had any new ones in six years, but children still exist, and by proxy so do parents. By The Lottery‘s reckoning, six years with no births would turn all of the women of the world into baby crazed citizens, justifying a world where rampant body policing, experimentation and corruption have become the norm. We do see a handful of protesters assembling to question the government’s actions early on, but they, like all of the other normal people, are given only brief moments of screen time.

Our only anchor in this madness is Elvis’ single father, Kyle. Throughout the hour, the only scenes that worked involved Kyle’s instance to the rest of the world that Elvis was not a commodity, but rather a child, and his child at that. When Kyle is late picking up his son from school, one of the creepy women who works there called the futuristic child protective services on him. Through a bit of forced exposition we learn Kyle is a recovering alcoholic and Elvis’ mother was a drug addict. Kyle is a paragon of normalcy in a world that is teetering on the brink of absurdity. Then by the episode’s end, he is also revealed to have magic sperm that fertilized the embryo of the woman who Dr. Alison bonded with…sadly, the woman is killed by a nefarious organization for daring to ask to carry her own child to term.

Thanks to Alison’s work, 100 embryos are successfully fertilized and Vanessa, the Chief of Staff, convinces the President to hold a lottery to pick which women will be surrogates. This is instead of the much more depressing idea of female soldiers being forced to act as the surrogates. However, the lottery will have to be rigged. It is a promotional stunt to help the President’s numbers. In actuality, women would be chosen based on health and age factors, not by randomness– adding yet another layer of corruption to the President’s platform.

The episode ends with Alison being kidnapped and Kyle on the run with his son. Neither cliffhanger is inherently compelling, although Kyle’s character is strong enough to hold my attention even as the standard conspiracy thriller tropes play out around him. The Lottery zooms in on the least interesting part of its story, the macro government going ons, while turning the actual American citizens into cartoon parodies. If humanity was as lame as it is in The Lottery, no one would be all that bothered by a fertility crisis most of the adult population would live through anyway.

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