A couple of years ago I wrote an article about science fiction dropping the ball in regards to saving the future. At the time, many story arcs were very dark, and filled with a sense if hopelessness, as the heroes all struggled to barely make it through the crisis at hand. I posed the question “when was SciFi going to save the world again?,” with the hope of encouraging a return to hopeful endings that could inspire hope in the real world. Well, it seems that SciFi is starting to respond to the challenge, all-be-it in a still slightly dark way.
Two prime examples of this are the shows ‘Siren‘ and ‘The Magicians.’ Each has taken on environmental issues, although one did so directly, while the other wrapped it in a magical cloak. Siren, which is about mermaids, tackled the issue of over fishing in season one, and ocean contamination (both from sonic noise and oil drilling) in season two. The message, delivered only as SciFi can, is that we share this world with other creatures, and our actions impact them too. In this case we see the push back the mermaids give, in reaction to the threat we now pose to their watery homeland.
Over the last two seasons of The Magicians there has been a quest to return magic to the world. In a very clever use if subtle symbolism, the writers used water to symbolize the “wellspring magic” that needed to be freed for everyone to use equally. To deny its use became a human rights issue along the way. This, if course, mirrors the ongoing debate surrounding the right to clean drinking water for all, which is currently being debated around the world.
Finally, SciFi seems to be using its influence, and use of imagery, to get people to start thinking about some if these real world environmental problems. The one concern remaining is about some of the solutions being posed. Siren ended its most recent season with the main characters pulling the entire cast together to carry out what can only be described as an act of eco-terrorism. The Magicians, meanwhile, just wrapped up their fourth season with the successful freeing of the wellspring magic, but at the expense of the death of a main character, Quentin Coldwater.
Both storylines are set to continue, as both have upcoming episodes planned for the future, but both shows will be changed forever, as a result if what took place in their respective finales.
While I applaud both shows for being willing to take on theses topics without fear, I do pause to wipe away the tears that those last episodes brought on. Hope has always been one of SciFi’s best weapons, as it could be used to evoke a belief that the future could be better, and that we can overcome any trial thrown our way (ex: Star Trek and Eureka). Here’s looking forward to seeing that once these characters finally win their battles, that they (and us) can also still achieve a Happy Ending. Otherwise what are we all really fighting for, if not for a better world?
Happy Earth Day everyone!