Like Black Mirror mashed up with bits of The Prisoner, Wayward Pines and 1984, This Is Not My Life is a high-concept sci-fi thriller from New Zealand that is quite binge-worthy.
This Is Not My Life stars Charles Mesure (Once Upon a Time, Desperate Housewives, V, Outrageous Fortune) as a man with no memory when he wakes up in what is apparently the home he shares with his family.
Following his freak-out, he learns he is Alec Ross — husband of 17 years to Callie (Tandi Wright, 800 Words, The Returned, Nothing Trivial), father to Becky and Christian, and the human resources manager at Waimoana Water.
He had a fall at home, and now that he’s awake with amnesia, Callie takes him to Waimoana Wellness so he can be checked out by Dr. Natasha Collins (Tania Nolan, Home and Away, Step Dave, Go Girls), seemingly the only wellness consultant at the place and a “Stepford wife” of a doctor if ever there was one.
But there are strange things going on. Alec’s clothes don’t really fit. He and Callie are followed on their way to Wellness. Then Alec is abducted and told to “become Alec Ross” by the mysterious Harry (John Bach, Janet King, Jack Irish).
So who is Alec Ross, really? And what is this Waimoana place, anyway?
According to a sign, “you’ll never want to leave” Waimoana. In this 2020s suburban town, residents carry “pic” IDs, use mobile phones the size of credit cards, and live minimalist (and near colorless) lifestyles (albeit in fairly large homes). It’s an eco-responsible place, where there are individual power allowances for driving one’s tiny smart car, and carbon credit requirements for anyone wanting to take a plane flight. It could be idyllic here…
When he does remember that he’s Alec Ross, his life becomes simpler — until he discovers a video of himself telling himself that he isn’t Alec Ross.
As the plot thickens over the course of thirteen episodes, Alec/not Alec meets another Waimoana resident who feels the life they’re living isn’t their own, learns about certain things he did in during his pre-memory-fail life, and tries to find out what is really going on with the help of former Waimoana Water employee Jessica Wilmot (The Brokenwood Mysteries, Hope and Wire).
There are times during the second half of the series when I wished things would just get moving already, and certain characters that annoyed me to no end. Still, there are plot twists aplenty, and the urge to know what was going to happen next and how things would end up for Alex kept me watching til the end credits started to roll in the season and series finale.
One last thought: This Is Not My Life isn’t the first show to incorporate an eco-consciousness vibe or an isolationist theme, and it likely won’t be the last. But when viewed against what’s happening in the world today — nine years after the series aired — it can feel rather unsettling.
Costarring Steven A. Davis (The Shannara Chronicles), Katherine Kennard (Nothing Trivial), Peter Muller (The Strip), and Joel Tobeck (The Doctor Blake Mysteries), This Is Not My Life is currently available for streaming in the US via AVOD (ad-supported video-on-demand) on Tubi TV and Vudu.
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