Exploring the psychological underpinnings of love and murder in a small town, the six-part HBO series Mosaic – directed by Oscar and Emmy-winner Steven Soderbergh – stars Sharon Stone as children’s book author and illustrator Olivia Lake. Because of her popularity in the small mountain resort town of Summit, Utah, she attracts the attention of aspiring graphic artist Joel Hurley (Garrett Hedlund), beginning a whodunit mystery that also involves financier Michael O’Connor (James Ransone) and con man Eric Neill (Frederick Weller). When Olivia disappears on New Year’s Day, detective Nate Henry (Devin Ratray) and Eric’s sister, Petra (Jennifer Ferrin), must unravel the mystery. The series also features Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman himself) as Stone’s flamboyant gay best friend (such a stereotype, but we kind of love this demented pairing).
Mosaic was originally released in two forms: first as an iOS/Android mobile app and later as an edited television drama on HBO. An ambitious attempt at a new form of storytelling, the app works almost like an interactive movie. While the user can’t actually affect the plot, they can choose from which character’s perspective the same plot is viewed, and learn different facets of it (think Rashomon, but you’re in total control of the order of events). Users can also investigate on their own time using supplementary background documents, emails, news clippings, voice mails, police reports, and more in the app’s “Discoveries” section.
HBO released Mosaic as a six-episode television series in January 2018. The show contains largely the same content as the app, but without (obviously) the interactivity or ability to research the extra documents and goodies. It’s also slightly shorter as a whole. According to press releases, the always-innovative Steven Soderbergh has two more unnamed interactive storytelling projects under development based are the same platform created for Mosaic.