And then it happened. Slowly, but surely, I started liking silly science fiction. First “The X-Files.” But I rationalized that away as more of an ongoing mystery than a sci-fi geekfest. And then “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which while not actually sci-fi, does lump together with the larger world of fantasy. But the thing about Buffy was it wasn’t so much about the vampires as it was about the real monsters we face every day trying to make it to adulthood.
But then I just kept adding more sci-fi shows. “Fringe.” “Dr. Who.” “Dollhouse.” “Firefly.” “Torchwood.” “Lost Girl.” “Warehouse 13.”
What is it about these shows? Why do they interest me so? Well, in part, the fantasy. Time travel. Space travel. Immortal tendencies. Bisexual succubus tendencies. And, well, Myka and Helena’s gigantic lesbian tendencies. But, to be honest, it’s not so much the escape I crave. Because while good sci-fi can provide that with its laser blasters and mind erasers and blue police boxes, I think when done well what it really gives us is a chance to look with clear eyes at our own humanity. Something about adding little green men (or their metaphysical equivalent) allows us to step back from the ordinary, up-close messiness of life and just see our human race for what it is. Beautiful. Flawed. Crazy as all fuck.
And, just as important, I think science fiction is a genre that finally allows women to be on equal footing with men. Not all science fiction, mind you. But a lot, especially more recently. Women are allowed to be in charge. They’re allowed to be strong. They’re allowed to be important – essential even. Basically, they’re allowed to save the world. They’re very rarely just the girlfriend or just the best friend. They’re more often a secret agent or badass or both. And that, that is pretty damn awesome.
Gina Torres, a high priestess of science fiction badassery, famously praised the genre for giving actresses like her who don’t fit a mold a happy home:
“When you fall within the cracks, you thank God for sci-fi, because they’ll give you a gun, and they’ll say, ‘Go over there and conquer that world. You kick some ass, girl!’”
Go kick some ass, indeed. Bring it, sci-fi. I’m all yours.