cover art by @whats.demato.with.you on Instagram
By Alena Nguyen
Within minutes of starting the first episode, I was greeted to an overwhelming amount of entertainment celebrities: Steve Carrell, Lisa Kudrow, Diana Silvers, and more?! How much better could the casting get? It certainly got better, but I can’t say the same about the plot of the show. Created by and starring Steve Carrell and others, “Space Force” is one of Netflix’s newest original releases, starring the aforementioned stars and more. The stern but slightly aloof General Naird (played by Carrell) is tasked with an important outer space mission involving Mars by the US Government. The series is intended to satirically demonstrate how U.S. President Donald Trump would handle such an important task like managing an outer space force.
I’m usually not a fan of sci-fi or speculative fiction, but the show had gotten so much hype on social media that I had to check it out. When starting the first episode, I felt the satirical underlinings in the interactions between the characters. Maybe the fame of “The Office” got to Carrell when writing the show because Naird reminded me of a more jaded, successful version of Michael Scott- makes terrible executive decisions, tries to be funny but the jokes flop, yet above all, still holds a leadership position. Yet the main difference is that while Michael Scott redeems himself with small, individual actions throughout the show, Naird constantly lets many down. Naird constantly proves to be an unsuccessful leader and a just as unsuccessful father and husband.
The writing was very drawn out and very dry- even some of the characters seemed bored. The jokes seemed tentatively performed and there were many comedic pauses that made every episode seem longer than it actually was- many times I forgot what the main plot was and was just waiting for something to actually happen. One episode, Naird is ordering a rocket to launch, then the next he’s conversing with a monkey in space but it ends up in a Chinese spacecraft? It may be some niche, very specific humor that appeals to some, but it felt as if the writers were attempting to reach a wider audience with various jokes that never followed through. The characters’ individual plot lines felt like filler plots to avoid getting to the point- specifically, the time Erin got herself suspended from school so she could hang out with her dad, and he forces a pilot to babysit her the whole day. While that episode’s plot felt like a filler, I actually valued the best friend/role model figure that the pilot filled in Erin’s life, since her mom was in prison. When Erin goes to visit her mom every so often, the mother hides questionable statements between her “motherly advice”, showing up with corn rows and saying the occasional, mildly racist statement about her fellow prisoners.
While many sub-plots throughout the 10-episode series seemed like a waste of time and the main plot became unnecessarily convoluted, the unanswered question remains: How did General Naird’s wife (played by Kudrow) end up in jail?