If you’re a sci-fi fan, I’d hope you’d have already heard of The Expanse – an outstanding show based on the novels by James S. A. Corey. If you haven’t, stop reading this and go watch it right now. Episode 1 of Season 1 is a bit wobbly, but it’s all great from there.
Another great sci-fi show self-destructs
For those of us in the UK, you can watch The Expanse on Netflix while in the US it’s on the Syfy network – who were backing the show.
Earlier this month the news came that Syfy would not be picking up The Expanse for a fourth series. This was followed by the news that Netflix would also not be picking it up, which might come as a surprise considering the show’s presence (and perceived popularity) on the streaming service.
As is often the way with cult shows like this, a fan campaign has already kicked into gear – you can see it (or join in if you’re that way inclined) on Twitter (#SaveTheExpanse) or on Reddit at r/theexpanse.
Now, after the failure of the fabled Firefly campaign (still hurts…) you might wonder why fan campaigns like this still happen. You only have to look at the recent news around Brooklyn Nine-Nine to see that happy endings are possible – though there have been some murmurings that the ‘cancellation’ and ‘saving’ of the show was a bit of a marketing damp squib.
But is The Expanse just another cult show destined to never have a proper ending? Maybe. But I think The Expanse deserves another series – here’s why.
It’s the best thing Syfy have done in ages
Not since the heady days of Battlestar Galactica have I had much time for Syfy’s (SciFi back then…) output. Most people were under the impression that Syfy had given up on making quality science fiction programming.
Then along comes The Expanse – a proper hard-nosed science fiction drama that both looks great and delves into some serious intellectual meat (more on that later).
This isn’t just my personal opinion either. The reviews back it up. Take a look at Season 3 on Rotten Tomatoes, 100% from critics and 99% from audiences. Not too shabby.
It’s got a great cast
The names that will draw the most attention to The Expanse are probably Thomas Jane and Jared Harris – and both of them have plenty to work with. One of the standout performances in the show comes from Shohreh Aghdashloo, who is always fascinating as Chrisjen Avasarala – a woman at the centre of the political intrigue that adds so much depth to the series.
Another strong suit of the show is the diversity of the cast, and the diversity of the roles they’re given to play – the show is refreshing in it’s willingness to allow actors to play against type and that’s something that should be both encouraged and applauded.
It deals with relevant issues
The best science fiction stories allow us to confront real world issues through the allegorical lens of the ‘far-future’ or an ‘alternate reality’.
The relationship between Earth, Mars and the Belt is ripe for analysis in terms of exactly which political situation the show (and the books its based on) is commenting on.
For me, the most interesting element of the show is the ideological split between Earth and Mars, with both sides having their own cultures influenced heavily by the environment they’ve developed in. It’s that inability to understand the other side and the nature of the world they’ve lived in that makes it so difficult for these two parties to reconcile.
Two diametrically opposed sides that can’t come to an agreement despite the fact that failing to agree hurts both… might sound familiar to those of us in the UK and Europe, or in the US.
It cares about the science
While The Expanse might include some fanciful science fiction elements surrounding the proto molecule, The Expanse also takes the time to dig into some of the realities around what would happen during inter-planetary space travel and particularly what might happen to people living in different environments in our social system.
The fact that the show takes the time to talk about what might happen to the human body during sharp turns in an otherwise zero-gravity environment, or the fact that a human that had been born and grown up in low gravity might never be able to survive on Earth, adds to flavour of The Expanse – it feels almost possible that this could be the future.
There’s still hope for The Expanse
There are murmurings that Amazon might still be a possible home for The Expanse, and even some people suggesting SyFy are actually just posturing for a greater cut of the streaming revenue from the series (where the majority of people are watching it).
So, as I said earlier if you haven’t seen the show and any of the above has intrigued you then go and give it a try. If you have enjoyed the show, then maybe check out the fan campaigns on Twitter and Reddit – if you feel strongly enough then get involved!
Check back on Screen Robot for more news on The Expanse and whether the show will be returning for a fourth series.