That emphasis on empathy is key to Reverie, which is a show built on technology. It examines the importance of empathy and human connection in a world fueled by advanced tech. Fisher is a believer in the good that technology can do, so it's not supposed to be a dark, dystopian, worst-case scenario. "We wanted to have a grounded, real look at the way these things play out today in people's lives, and how to tell real emotional stories without it being a sermon on how technology is bad," he said.
However, that doesn't mean that Fisher and co-executive producer Tom Szentgyorgyi weren't interested in exploring both good and bad ways that the tech in Reverie could be used. While it's a look at where VR could be (and likely is) heading, it's not anything we're currently capable of -- because the key to Reverie lies in its connection with humans. The virtual reality we have access to right now consists of preprogrammed experiences that the user is dropped into via interfaces like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. While the user can interact with the VR world, the world doesn't necessarily interact back. That's not the case in Reverie.
"One of the hallmarks of the Reverie technology is that it's dynamic," Szentgyorgyi said. "It reacts to you. In essence, anytime you tell someone a fantasy, one of your fantasies, you're essentially drawing a little bit of a self-portrait. You're showing something about yourself." The key here is that Reverie learns about you through what you request from it and the worlds you ask it to build. The program then uses that information to make your VR fantasies as realistic as possible. "In so doing," Szentgyorgyi continued, "[it] can often show startling insight into people if you know how to look at it."
That isn't limited to the people Mara is trying to save, who pay to use the program. Mara herself is entering Reveries. It might be to save other people, but in doing so, the program is slowly learning about her. It provokes some fascinating questions about the technology's capabilities. The producers promise some "pretty fantastic environments" over the course of the first season, thanks to special effects house CoSA, which has also worked on shows like Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Gotham.
But you can't delve into the world of VR without asking, "What if this hurts people?" After all, the premise of the show is that people are falling into comas while inside their Reveries. Does the company behind the technology, Onira-tech, have any responsibility for the way people choose to use their tech? What happens if users' fantasies aren't necessarily healthy? And what if someone drags another person into a Reverie without their consent? These are all issues that the series will confront over the course of its first season.