This is an amazing web series (there is really no other way to describe this) created by someone who I can only assume is an eccentric (but incredibly warm-hearted) artist that loves football with a passion.
20020, the sequel to 17776, takes place in the year 20020 (as you can imagine, 17776 takes place in the year 17776). More specifically, it takes place in the far, far future, of America. Despite the millennia that have passed, nothing major has changed. The invention of intelligent nanobots has granted humanity immortality. These nanobots prevent humans from hurting themselves in accidents, growing sick, or dying for any other reason. After achieving freedom from death, humanity turns their eyes to the sky, only to find that for thousands of lightyears, they were alone in the universe. Giving up on finding extraterrestrials, humanity stops developing new technologies, and devotes itself to lives of play and leisure with no consequences.
One such game these post-death humans play is none other than college football. 20020 follows Nick and Manny, a married couple who are also football players for San Diego State. Through a series of stunts that would not be possible without an interminable lifespan, they capture Georgia Tech’s nine footballs (the rules of this convoluted version of college football are explained in-story but too cumbersome to transcribe here) and stealthily sneak them back to home field.
Pioneer 9, Pioneer 10, and JUICE are sentient AI space probes. They are, in fact, real space probes. In this way, 20020 masterfully blends its fictional sci-fi narrative with real-world history. It’s hard to describe 20020 because it’s a blend of so many things: Google Earth images, obscure game design documents, color-coded dialogue between human and AI characters, and YouTube videos of future college football. It’s something that is better experienced than described.
Although the worldbuilding is unique, funny, whimsical, and incredibly detailed, it’s the humanism that makes 20020 a work of art. In the end, it’s a love letter to the human race, and to human history. At the penultimate episode (20020 is made up of 12 episodes, much like how its prequel 17776 was made up of 25 chapters), Pioneer 9 remarks on their onboard memory being fashioned from the hands of dozens of women workers, sewing a memory out of 0s and 1s. “They didn’t know what I’d be, or who I’d be, but they loved me.” It’s odd to say that Jon Bois “humanized” space probes, but the emotional revelations that Pioneer 9 undergoes throughout the series feel real, and touch upon our mortal existences as well. Love, humanity, friendship, and games define existence in 20020’s imagined future world.