Soderbergh’s HBO Series ‘Mosaic’ Embraces The Digital Age

TV for the Tinder generation.
By  · Published on October 7th, 2017

TV for the Tinder generation.

Steven Soderbergh has a reputation for experimenting with storytelling. He shot a movie without a script (Bubble), cast a porn star (The Girlfriend Experience) and a mixed martial artist (Haywire) as leads, and retired from movies to direct 20 straight episodes of TV (The Knick). Soderbergh recently came out of retirement to direct Logan Lucky, a charming but conventional heist movie. It looks like Soderbergh was saving his experimental impulses and putting them towards his hush-hush HBO project.

Today HBO unveiled the trailer for Mosaic, “An interactive storytelling experience.” It’s a type of choose-your-own-adventure app that lets you tap the screen to watch the story from different perspectives. The app will be available as a free download this November, followed by a six-part HBO miniseries in January 2018. Mosaic features Sharon Stone, Garrett Hedlund, Paul Reubens, and Beau Bridges.

Here’s the official synopsis listed on HBO’s YouTube channel:

Three years in the making, the MOSAIC app allows viewers to choose what point-of-view from which to follow the story and to, in effect, build their own experience from the material Soderbergh and Solomon created. The choices one makes build upon one another, enabling multiple tellings of the story from different perspectives and, sometimes, with different conclusions. Viewers will be able to see how their own versions of the story on the app ultimately compare to Soderbergh’s six-part linear narrative in January.

Choose-your-own-adventure games have had a resurgence on PCs and video game consoles in recent years. Developer Telltale Games, popularized episodic, story-driven games based on popular series like Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Batman. In these games, the decisions you make early on have consequences that play out over the course of a ten-hour story. Mosaic and the story it weaves looks like a simpler version of the Telltale titles.

There’s been a large shift in fandom over the past decade. In the social media era, a growing number of fans expect that movie, TV show, and video game creators incorporate their audience’s input. In the worst-case scenarios, fans lash-out over casting decisions, story resolutions, and series endings. Social media era fandom also has a benevolent side. Devoted audiences fund their favorite content creators on Kickstarter and Patreon. A flexible storytelling app like Mosaic can potentially appeal to both aspects of fandom.

Mosaic could be nothing more than a novelty that fails to move the pop culture needle. Mosaic could also be way ahead of the curve when it comes to how we consume media. There is a new generation of TV viewers who grew up casting votes on American Idol, downloading music from iTunes, and binge-watching Breaking Bad at their leisure. They’ve been groomed to consume content on their own terms. And if there’s one director who understands the need to do things their own way, it’s Steven Soderbergh.

Related Topics: ,

Pop culture writer & film critic. Film/Television/Tech Reviews & Interviews @ FSR, Screen Rant & Sordid Cinema