Brave New World focuses on a utopian society where everyone is happy, but to achieve that bliss, the citizens are conditioned to take a drug called “soma.” The dystopian tale is based on Aldous Huxley’s classic 1932 novel of the same name. Whereas Huxley centered on a futuristic setting called World State, the newly-released adaptation puts New London at the front and center. Here’s the soma medication explained.
New London is a city that serves as a “social body” where “everyone belongs to everyone else.” The citizens are split into a caste system after being produced in a test tube. Society is conditioned from a very young age and raised to follow three strict rules: no privacy, no family, no monogamy. Though there are superiors to lead the community, the entire system is governed by an unseen force called Intra. Pleasure is the priority of Brave New World‘s New London and in order to balance happy emotions, the city provides a series of soma drugs.
At the start of Brave New World, New London counselor Bernard Marx (Harry Lloyd) asks a subordinate if her “levels” are steady. The characters across the class system are then continuously shown popping different color pills as if they were Tic Tacs. The tiny drug is called soma, Brave New World‘s way of mood-altering. Just like the case with Huxley’s novel, soma medication is meant to block out emotions resulting from stressful situations such as pain, grief, and anger. There are different colors of soma meant to suppress certain emotions or assist in extreme situations depending on the dosage. A very high dose of soma can even cause hallucinations. As is the case with any drug, there are dangerous side effects. One character develops alcohol use disorder during withdrawal from soma.
Why New London Relies On Soma
Since the citizens of New London are conditioned to take the soma medication from a young age, they become reliant on the drug to the point where everyone walks around in some sort of drugged state. Any sense of tension or confrontation causes characters to grab their soma dispenser. The drug allows society to have better control over the citizens since soma helps extract any sense of individuality. Without soma, people would start to get a better sense of who they truly are by experiencing all types of emotion, either good or bad. Stability would also be more difficult to achieve. For New London to retain its hive mind, all citizens must be compliant.
What The Different Soma Colors Mean
In the sci-fi series, the soma medication had different colors that represented different effects. Some of them could only be given out by the soma man or counselors, while others were openly accessible. The colors available to everyone were green, blue, indigo, and violet, while the special colors were red, orange, and yellow. The green, blue, indigo, and violet pills all had the same purpose, to combat anything that causes negativity or stress, but they were different in color to denote the strength of the dosage, with green being the weakest. The yellow pills, which can only be dished out by counselors, were mentioned in episode 5, “Firefall,” to cure emotional trauma. The purpose of the orange pills was never fully disclosed. However, the red pill is the strongest of them all, and can only be given out by the Soma Man when it is “your time” – this fictional pill’s strongest form is meant for death.
Soma was meant to symbolize the influence of science and technology when the drug was introduced in Huxley’s original story. In reality, the author seemed to have predicted society’s pill addiction, which remains a problem to this day. The leaders of New London don’t want citizens to be free-thinkers, which is why they hammer down the importance of soma. Unfortunately, John the Savage (Alden Ehrenreich) is against soma and manages to convince others to throw away the drug and speak freely. Like the novel, the avoidance of soma medication in Peacock’s Brave New World leads to an all-out rebellion.