Altered Carbon is a Netflix show based on the book by Richard K. Morgan and takes place in a world where only the poor have to die.
You can live forever, but only if you can afford it, due to alien technology that houses your consciousness in a circular metal disk kept on the base of your head. You can be put into whatever body you can afford if your body dies, and you can kill someone forever by destroying the disc. The technology creates a shift in society that changes literally everything.
Things get creative in the show when it explains how weird things can get in this world. We see a little girl that died in a hit-and-run accident placed in the body of an older woman because her insurance would not pay for anything else.
The show's protagonist is named Takeshi Kovacs and is played in the present day by white actor Joel Kinnamen, while Will Yun Lee handles the character in flashback, which is its own can of worms in the current political climate. The cast is diverse and everyone elevates the material through sheer force of will; the actors bring more to the table than the often-bland script demands.
The show will teach you more about how we view bodies in society. People pay extra to keep an array of clones ready for their minds to be replanted in, should they ever die. An ultra-rich character, whose wealth grows as he passes down his fortune to himself over and over, notes that he selected the age of his clone to convey authority and wisdom.
So you are left with a society where rich become immortal and grow bank accounts so vast, they may well be limitless. How long could someone stay in that position and remain human? The book tackles this problem directly:
You live that long, things start happening to you. You get too impressed with yourself. Ends up, you think you’re God. Suddenly the little people, thirty, maybe forty years old, well, they don’t really matter anymore. You’ve seen whole societies rise and fall, and you start to feel you’re standing outside it all, and none of it really matters to you. And maybe you’ll start snuffing those little people, just like picking daisies, if they get under your feet.
We meet characters who borrow the bodies of other characters and are introduced to people who more or less clone themselves by downloading their consciousness into multiple bodies. There are ideas about what it means to be an adult when your parents never die and leave you their legacy, and thoughts on how religion would deal with such a huge shift in how we think about living and dying.
Have a look at the official trailer below, and be sure to catch the series on Netflix.