Happy Tenth Anniversary, Battlestar Galactica, here’s My Incoherent Outpouring of Love
Slate published a piece on why Battlestar Galactica is more relevant now than when it debuted because of the rapid advancement of Artificial Intelligence since it debuted. It seemed cheesy at the time, but the closing of the show showed computerized robots throughout the world set to the original “All Upon the Watchtower,” with Six and Baltar laughing as they live on to infinity.
This also illustrates one of the reasons that I can confidently say BSG is my favorite television show of all time. No, I’m not exaggerating when I say that. BSG had a clear message: what makes someone human? and to not repeat the mistakes of the past. it wasn’t done in such a way that was a heavy-handed metaphor is a clumsy allegory, the message was repeated, probably somewhere in the dialogue several times. As the end of humanity approaches, they questioned why it was even worth saving humanity. There were elements of the supernatural and religion that did not get too out of hand (I mean, people didn’t find out that fucking faeries exist) that also tried to provide meaning for the near genocide of humanity.
Ten years later, I’m still wondering why a science fiction show had such an effect on me. Before that, I wasn’t much of a science fiction fan. I only started watching the show because two of my (male) coworkers were watching it and I had nothing better to do then watch two seasons of a show in one sitting. But there was something about the story and the world created that makes me sometimes hurt with how much I love it. (Yes, I love some tv that much.)
I’m already tired of post-apocalyptic stories. Maybe because at some point there is not much to offer. On a damaged earth, the only solution is to find a safe place and hunker down, living out the rest of your life trying to make it as painless as possible. Or, defeat some sort of alien or zombie. I know I am generalizing, and there is still much post-apoc stuff worth reading, but it gets tiresome.
With BSG, the civilian population on the planets were wiped out where the military was spared because they were all on the fleet of ships when it happened. Because they were military, they already had their shit together and had structure, so we didn’t need to watch people scrounging for food and shelter.
The other thing that I loved so much about it, and this is something I have heard people say they like about Star Trek, is that the things that mattered and were valued in the world are so different than the shallow and materialistic bullshit in the real world. people are valued on merit of skills and beliefs and generally want to accept each other (generally, there were still cranky-pants loners, which I also loved). Yes, it’s very hippy-dippy of me, but hey, the things I love (pop culture, celebrities) will also be my demise. Many characters were conventionally attractive (this is television), but in a different, more diverse way than the typical Pretty Little Liars-type attractive.
In the ongoing debate about writing “strong female characters,” BSG nailed it more than most shows. What people misread is that they need the actual female character to be bad-ass or ‘strong”, which is a concept I hate. No, the CHARACTER needs to be strong. Meaning that the character has multiple dimensions, and yes, also has flaws. Sure, in this case, the characters are physically strong, but that is because they are military. Some people would say they like Starbuck because she is “bad-ass”; what they mean is that she has many traditional masculine attributes , but honestly, she was also a dick and her testosterone fueled antics got old. The layers of WELL WRITTEN female characters were seen in Caprica Six and the Original Boomer is that they struggled with their former lives as sleeper agents among humans and their loyalty to their cylon identity, or Laura Roslin, who was trying to be a good leader but wasn’t sure if rigging an election to prevent corruption was the best thing for the people or not. And so on and so on, THE POINT is these characters had flaws and struggles with decisions in their lives, which makes a “strong” female whatever that means. Oh my god and CAIN! You could just think she was an evil fascist who killed anyone that got in her way, but in her own way she thought she was doing the right thing, which at the time meant torturing her lover when she found out she was a cylon, and now I am getting emotional about it.
And I’m just talking about the women, obviously, the male characters were also great save for Apollo and his Daddy issues, but as many of you know, Gauis Baltar was/is one of my favorite characters ever, much thanks to James Callis as an actor (WHY IS HE NOT IN MORE STUFF), his general snarkiness, and his self-preservation-motivated decisions. Was he the real enemy? No, and I think Lee proved that during his trial at the end of season three.
Sure, the show had its flaws, which I am willing to excuse, but are bothersome. Where did Laura Roslin keep getting all those business suits? They opened a goddamn sports bar on one of the ships, complete with bartenders, bar backs, mahogany counters and shit. Also, the women always had really great hair.
MY POINT IS that I love this show so much, and I can’t even put into words why. Maybe, in a way, it was because everyone mattered. Even if you were the assistant mechanic (oh, Callie) you still had a role to play and was needed and valued. I guess that’s we all want, right? To feel values, to feel like there is a point to who we are? I don’t know why you need a space adventure show to really make that come about. The only other recent show that addresses this concept is Enlightened, and don’t even get me started on how much I miss that show.
And I guess spaceships are just cool by default. I got such a kick out of the viper plains being forced out of the launch tube.