Sunday, June 3, 2018

A Great Article About THE EXPANSE That I Reprint Here

Check out Black Nerd Problems for more great articles like this one on the Expanse, one of my all time favorite shows on TV right now. After three spectacular seasons  Syfy, the suckiest network next to FOX, has cancelled it right in the middle of the story. Fortunately Amazon has picked it up and now AMAZON has itself one more viewer. Well unless they try to make me pay to see it like CBS All Access did with Star Trek Discovery.

First Dark Matter, now The Expanse. That’s two space opera sci-fi tv shows cancelled by Syfy in the last 9 months. In the meantime, Star Trek: Discovery kicked off on CBS Access, to rave reviews by fans but middle of the road commentary from everyone else. All three shows follow in the tradition of previous Star Trek series, Babylon 5, or Battlestar Galactica — star-jumping ship crews, inscrutable aliens, brash men (until recently almost exclusively) colonizing or “decolonizing” other planets.

The big change of these last few years in science fiction entertainment is that ethnic and racial diversity in the shows has finally moved past lip service and tokenism to a truly apparent dedication to showing human variety on screen. At least as much human variety as alien, anyway. We know there’s an audience for this kind of show. But now with the cancellation of the two series on Syfy, where will large-scale science fiction shows that at least pretend to represent a range of racial and ethnic identities be found?

The Expanse also premiered in 2015, but its reception differed greatly from that of Dark Matter. Sometimes called “Game of Thrones in Space,” from the jump, The Expanse was up to something *big.* (Note: This is a characterization I disagree with, I’ve watched 3 seasons of The Expanse and haven’t seen a single rape scene.) Based on the novels of James S.A. Corey’s (writing team Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham), The Expanse centers on its own gang with secret pasts, the crew of the Rocinante. The plot moves between the different poles of Earth, Mars, and the Belt as an alien presence makes itself known in the solar system.

The Expanse is good, really good. Hugo Award winning Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, good. It is widely praised for its scientific accuracy, stunning cinematography, and again, racial and cultural diversity. I’ve already sung the praises of Dominique Tipper (Naomi Nagata), and my weekly recaps are full of love for Shohreh Aghdashloo (Chrisjen Avasarala) and Frankie Adams (Roberta ‘Bobbie’ W. Draper). With these women of color leading the cast (not to mention Cas Anvar and Terry Chen and so many other men of color), the show affirms a full integration of people of color into the fabric of the show, and the future universe it imagines. That future universe is imperfect, it still struggles with wealth imbalances and power still corrupts absolutely, but it is also a universe that is not yet dystopian, is not yet lost. We’re all there fighting to keep humanity going. Again, in The Expanse as in Dark Matter, we all go into space together, for better or worse.

Though not on the same level in terms of quality — As much as I enjoyed Dark Matter, it lacked the emotional weight of The Expanse — the two shows do have a lot in common. Both aired on SyFy, coming to them with complete plots written over 5 or more seasons. Both featured casts that look like real life with people of various cultures and ethnicities living and working together in the future, with more or less success. And now both have been cancelled by Syfy for the same crime — being more popular on streaming services the season after they aired than they ever were on live television. So if these kinds of shows can’t find a home on the channel that is supposedly designed to host them, then where can they go?

And to be totally honest with you I am in love with the magnificence that is Shohreh Aghdashloo. I like her in anything she does but on The Expanse she is more badass than badass.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

And she dresses pretty snappy too.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

She dresses to let everyone know she is the head bitch in charge. I am telling you, The Expanse is the real deal if you love strong female characters the way I do.

DrGoat said...

It's going to Amazon, I might need to get an Amazon Prime account just to watch this.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

They will probably air it for free up here which is the ONE time like Discovery that we get an advantage. Usually we get the screwgie.

I like that Holden is seeing Miller which means Miller is still around in some form. And that circle is a gateway which is a bad bad thing I think. Loving that new guy on the space station where Naomi is security chief too. He's got a mind on him.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Oh and it's a one way gate for the protomatter aliens. They are not going back to wherever they come from. They are here to stay for good or ill but most likely ill.