What if corporations ruled the world? Syfy's Incorporated gives four nightmare scenarios

A work-life balance may be one of the most difficult relationships to maintain as an adult. Taking work home can burden your social life and handling personal issues at work can weaken your job performance. Syfy’s new science fiction drama Incorporated explores a future that precludes that balance because everyone’s shelter, food, and, literally, life is controlled by the corporations they work for.

The show is set in the year 2074. Climate change has ravaged the world and bankrupted governments, which has lead to multinational corporations controlling 90 percent of the globe. Since resources are scarce, the land is separated into two zones: Green and Red. The Green Zone is the corporation-controlled section with the modern amenities and plush life reserved for people who are employees or their immediate relatives. The Red Zone is in perpetual squalor with limited to no resources reserved for everyone that is not permitted into the Green Zone.

Digital Trends previewed the first five episodes of the new season, which premieres tonight at 10 p.m. ET. It’s strange, eerie, and got us thinking. So, in honor of the premiere, we picked four nightmarishly realistic scenarios from the show and how they differ from real life. (SOME VERY MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.)

Giving birth becomes a luxury

In real life, for a business, hiring someone is essentially an investment and some corporations try to minimize how much time that investment is not working. Up until last year, the United Postal Service was sued for pregnancy discrimination after it required a pregnant worker to go on unpaid leave — causing her to lose her medical coverage — due to her informing the company a medical professional recommended she stop doing heavy lifting.

Incorporated showed us how good we have it.

Incorporated showed us how good we have it. In the show, companies show prospective parents a video that explains how “the corporation demands your peak performance at all time” and how pregnancy is the leading cause of marital strife and divorce. Natural births are considered a liability as the corporation would have no way of controlling which genetic defects or abnormalities that could show up in the child. And so the new way of having children in the Green Zone involves using a surrogate known as a “gestator.” For those who want to do it the old-fashioned way, the couple will get no health care assistance from the corporation and will have to pay for everything themselves.

Non-Disclosure Agreement = memory wiping

Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) are pretty standard employment contracts that usually stipulate an employee can not speak about private company information or speak bad about the company either during or after employment. Google once fired someone hired to promote Chromebooks at Best Buy stores for posting a picture of himself with the Google uniform on social media prior to the Google I/O event in 2012. NDAs are serious business, but not normally life threatening.

In a show where corporations are fighting over natural resources, potentially leaking classified information puts one character in Incorporated under treason charges. Once the corporation deems the employee no longer valuable, it executes their NDA. Executing an NDA in Incorporated means wiping that person’s memory clean of all knowledge. (Yes, all knowledge. Not just of their time at the company.) It’s hard to leak secrets when you don’t even know who you are.

Non-compete clauses come with a kill switch

Similar to NDAs, non-compete clauses in contracts have commonly stipulated that an employee agrees to not work for a competing employer as a means to protect the company’s intellectual property from being used by competitors. But, in the technology field where cell phone carriers are also providing TV service, almost every company is a competitor to another, making it hard for people to have careers. The punishment is usually a hefty fine, but never your life.

Every paycheck is a gamble.

In Incorporated, corporations play the role of the government and anyone wanting to change jobs is referred to as a “defector.” To preclude defections, high ranking executives possessing sensitive company information are implanted with a virus that contains a kill switch that will terminate that person if they try to leave the company.

Your paycheck is entirely based on company’s value

Cryptocurrencies are becoming so popular that some people are being paid entirely in Bitcoin. Unlike dollars, the value of a these cryptocurrencies have a history of being volatile, with one Bitcoin being worth $500 one day and $400 the next. It would be pretty inconvenient if you never knew how much your paycheck would be worth.

That fear is a game in Incorporated where people living in the the Red Zone are not paid in dollars but instead are paid in the currency of their employer, referred to as “Black Coin.” The best chance for those people to get better pay is to “roll a surge,” referring to a split-second in the market where the exchange rate makes a considerable jump before leveling off. In essence, every paycheck is a gamble.

These are just a few of the nightmare scenarios in Incorporated. The show debuts tonight at 10 p.m. ET on the Syfy channel. The pilot episode can be streamed on YouTube for free.

Home Theater

Now-canceled ‘Daredevil’ was one of Netflix’s most popular shows

Netflix recently canceled Marvel's Daredevil just a month after the premiere of the show's third season, despite reports indicating that it was one of the service's most popular shows.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2, Neo Yokio: Pink Christmas, and more.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: The Game Awards recap, smart home hackers, and more

On episode 32 of Digital Trends Live, DT's live morning show, hosts Greg Nibler and Jeremy Kaplan broke down the news of the day, including a recap of The Game Awards, a smart home hacking, and more.
Movies & TV

Sit down and watch some of the best stand-up comedy on Netflix

Feeling a little funny? There are hundreds of hilarious comedy specials out there, and you can't be expected to comb through them all. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of the best stand-up specials on Netflix.
Movies & TV

Lose the torrents. Here's how to watch 'Game of Thrones' online (legally)

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Hulu, or Amazon.
Movies & TV

Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ sequel conjures up a director and a release date

Doctor Strange director and co-writer Scott Derrickson will return to helm the Sorcerer Supreme's next big-screen adventure. Filming will begin in 2020, after Strange's mysterious Avengers: Endgame fate is resolved.
Home Theater

Kill your cable and switch to streaming with our painless guide

If you're going to quit cable or satellite for a streaming TV solution, you're going to want to get it right the first time. We've outlined exactly how to get started, step by step. Follow our lead, and you'll never look back.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what’s leaving in January 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for January 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.
Movies & TV

Our first look at 'The Punisher' season 2 hints at January 2019 premiere

The Punisher is getting a second season on Netflix, with Jon Bernthal returning to play Marvel Comics' gun-toting antihero, Frank Castle. Here's everything we know about season 2 of The Punisher so far.
Movies & TV

Pedro Pascal officially cast as 'The Mandalorian' as Disney show fills out cast

The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau's live-action Star Wars series planned for Disney's streaming video service, will be one of the most expensive television shows ever made. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Movies & TV

A ‘Venom’ sequel is on its way, and Spider-Man could play a role

'Venom' screenwriter Jeff Pinker confirms that a follow-up to Sony's Spider-Man spin-off is in the works. Could a certain friendly neighborhood webslinger join the action? Pinker says that it's "not impossible."
Home Theater

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ season 2 gets a new, Spock-heavy trailer

CBS has released a new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery season 2, which premieres January 17 on CBS All Access. The new trailer features series newcomers Spock and Christopher Pike prominently.