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Almost Totally Excellent

Starz Might Do an Aliens-Inspired Military Sci-Fi Show With a Female Lead and Same-Sex Relationships. Yippee!

The show’s called Incursion, it’s created by Spartacus showrunner (and Whedonverse/Smallville writer) Steven S. DeKnight, and it sounds freaking amazing.

DeKnight describes the show as “an R-rated, military show set in the future [and they're] fighting aliens on different planets,” with each season taking place on a new world. He counts Band of Brothers, Halo, and Black Hawk Down among the show’s influences—and, most notably, Aliens. Keeping with that vibe, the military in the show will feature men and women serving alongside one another. But Incursion, unlike most military sci-fi stories, won’t have a male lead: “I definitely wanted to avoid that,” said DeKnight. “I wanted to go down a different path.”

So. A military sci-fi show with a female lead. Pretty cool. Need another reason to be intrigued? Via The Huffington Post:

“I’m taking the same approach to what I did with ‘Spartacus,’ in that same-sex relationships are completely accepted,” DeKnight said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight or bi or anything — in the future, that makes no difference whatsoever.” In fact, DeKnight said he hasn’t figured out a way to do so yet, but he’s hoping to depict polyamorous relationships, “where you can have a husband, a wife and a husband, or any combination thereof … I find [that] deeply fascinating.”

I’ve never watched Spartacus, but what I’ve heard about it is that it’s cheesy but really good in its depiction of female characters and non-straight sexuality (correct me in the comments if I’m wrong), so that makes me hopeful about Incursion. (Also, my pun-loving heart loves the possibility of an outer space-set show on a network called Starz. Don’t look at me.)

Tempering my enthusiasm is the fact that, though DeKnight’s been working on the show since last year and has written several scripts, it has yet to be officially greenlit. Get on this, Starz. Incursion sounds like something we’ve rarely—maybe never?—seen on TV before, and we need more of that. Don’t let me down.

(via: blastr)

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  • Travis Fischer

    Spartacus is awesome and this sounds awesome.

  • Cae

    Ooh, Lucy Lawless is starting a new mysterious project, I wonder if she’ll involved in this

  • Mandy

    Where can I throw my money at to make this happen? I’ve only watched Spartacus: Gods of the Arena in full but I really enjoyed it. So I’ll definitely be keeping my ears open for any more news about this show happening!

  • Mandy

    I really hope so! She is one of my favorite parts of Spartacus. What a badass lady.

  • Calum Syers

    Damn it, they stole my idea! (Not really, same idea, great minds thinking alike.)

    Anyway, mine’s more Western-sci-fi, not straight sci-fi. Oh, and this sounds awesome, too. Looking forward to it.

  • Anonymous

    If it’s just Spartacus in space, I’ll pass. Although … Space Romans fighting Space Gauls could be cool. And maybe eventually we’d get a Space Pope (reptilian naturally). Hmm, this has promise.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    DeKnight said it won’t be “as salacious or sensual as ‘Spartacus,’” if that makes a difference.

  • Anonymous

    How do you tell the difference between content that is legitimately using women, ethnic minorities, LGBT characters because it fits the theme, and when they just use it to pander to those who want to see it? Strange that DC outs characters that are lesbian and transgender in the same title that is not in the spotlight? A TV show breaking gender stereotypes on a network that few watch or have access to?

  • Emily Fleming

    I’m reasonably sure that pretty much every entertainment option ever has been designed to appeal to people who want to see what the show contained.

  • Jordan Ruttle

    I think it’s just a matter of effort. I almost want to say regardless of whether a character comes out of a desire to indulge the audience, or because they want to genuinely create a diverse cast, if effort is put into making these characters real and dynamics, it works. If no effort is put into their creation, it’ll come off as pandering.

  • Nick Gaston


  • Nick Gaston

    A legitimate concern, to be true. But in this case, it depends entirely on how many alien skulls the LGBT character/s bash in on a regular basis.

  • Life Lessons

    Oh please, please, please, please, please let this happen!!!

  • Anonymous

    If the result is a good character, I don’t think their motivation in creating it matters. “You are what you pretend to be,” and all that.

  • Diana OmegaSama Davidsson

    This sounds to awesome!

  • Stewart Zoot Wymer

    I think what makes the difference is the focus on those elements. The irony is, if you focus on them too much, it pretty much puts a lampshade on those elements, making them seem somewhat gimmicky. If you have them just in the show but never focus on them, they are tokenized. Basically, those other elements should be just as explored as every other element. Equality for all without drifting to either extreme and the avoidance of stereotypes without being an anti-stereotype.

  • Kathryn

    DC are, basically, out there to make money. That is it. They have absolutely no interest in actually putting out a whole range of diverse titles that bring heroes to minority groups, because for them the demographic is clearly still the 18-37(ish) year old male with an overworked libido. That’s why they still hire artists with sexist styles and so on. And Marvel are very much the same, it’s why they hire (proven) hacks like Greg Land and put them on major titles. It’s less about quality and more about quantity and reliability.

    Batgirl did get the spotlight when it was apparent that a character in it was transgender, certainly. It cropped up on most comic sites and a number of LGBT news sites – I know HuffPost Gay certainly mentioned it. But I think a number of us sat there and just shrugged (and this is said as someone who’s MtF), because:
    a) It’s DC
    b) She’s not a superhero

    And, on top of that, it was erroneously reported she was the first “mainstream” trans character. I’m not sure how Grant Morrison’s Invisibles and Gaiman’s Sandman aren’t “mainstream”, but there you are. Shows just how far behind DC (and Marvel) are with these things when other creators have been doing them in their own titles (or published-owned properties) for decades.

    As for this show? Well, it’s hardly pandering, is it? For a start the show isn’t even being made (as far as we know) so, y’know, where’s the pandering? And how is showing a/the range of sexualities (and one hopes genders, too) pandering? It’s realistic, and when you consider the way our societies are moving, it’s not out of the question that in time we won’t bat our eyelids at sexualities, they’ll just be like hair colour or whatever. Something that’s just there. So again, realistic in a sense. Instead of just doing a dudebro sci-fi show with some meathead, it sounds to me like the writer is actually thinking about what he could do to make a more interesting and inclusive show. Female lead? Yesssssss. Queer characters? Double yessssssss.

    And considering the success of the Mass Effect games? Well, all I can say is that this show would *rule* the airwaves.

  • Isen

    I really like DeKnights take on this and his vision of the future. At many SciFi movies I wondered how they can be simultaneously so forward with tech and everything, but so backwards in social issues. I really hope this show will happen.

  • Aeryl

    That makes sense. Part of the driver for the story in Spartacus is the sexual violence done to the slaves, and DeKnight & Co made an effort to balance out the depiction of rape with scenes of consensual sex(which are shown in different lighting and stage techniques than the rape scenes).

    Since you said you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend it enough. The effects are campy and cheesy, the story is anything but. It honestly one of the BEST shows I’ve seen, and once you get past the pilot, the team figures out the best way to balance out the effects with the story.

    Do Blood and Sand, THEN Gods of the Arena. Gods of the Arena is first chronologically, but it doesn’t carry as much weight if you don’t know where these characters are going.

  • Ashe P. Samuels

    Very well put.

  • Canisa

    Because the only kind of progress that matters is the kind of progress that exclusively benefits white men, duh.

  • Canisa

    I for one can do without rape scenes in my fiction.

  • Aundrea Singer

    Spartacus did have its cheesy moments–especially in the first few episodes–but honestly, it was amazing. Chock-full of sex and violence as it was, it was far more a drama that was fascinating, exciting and suspenseful as hell, funny and occasionally heartbreaking. It’s the first show I’ve ever seen where I liked all the characters, regardless of overall importance–or if I hated them it was because they’d been written as deliberately hateful and I still wanted to see what they would do from week to week. It’s also the first show where I actually wanted all the main players to achieve their goals, even though it was logically impossible. I just thought they were all so awesome. Season three was the absolute best in my mind, but I highly, highly recommend all of it. Just bear with the first two or three eps. The pilot is cheesy and kind of ridiculous, but the show gained its footing very fast and just kept running.

    If Incursion is going to have the same kind of flavor and feel as Spartacus–especially with a female lead and the same kind of non-discriminatory sexuality–then I can’t wait to see it. I hope Starz picks it up.

  • Aundrea Singer

    Ouch! But only because it’s true.

  • Aundrea Singer

    All I can say for the LGBT characters in Spartacus was that they were all as well-rounded, flawed and capable as the straight characters. I can’t speak to how someone from the LGBT community might feel watching it, but to me the sexuality of the characters didn’t feel like pandering at all.

    Some (maybe most) of the nudity could be considered pandering, but since it had pretty much equal nudity between the men and the women (and vastly unlike Game of Thrones) until the last season, I personally at least had no complaints. As long as it’s equal-opportunity fanservice, I’m all for it. :)

  • Aundrea Singer

    If it’s like Spartacus–and it seems like it will be–the LGBT characters will bash just as many alien skulls, before going back to base and having sex with their boyfriends or girlfriends. The gay and lesbian characters in Spartacus were fantastically badass.

  • Eli Keel

    Straight male here. (FYI) I always found the nudity in Spartucus to be heavily gay centric when it came to man nudity. It struck me as a step toward inclusion, but still pandering to the male crowd, at the exspense of the female viewer. Then again, I’m pretty unclear on what pandering toward a female eye actually looks like. I’ve heard differnt answers ranging from “women aren’t turned on visually” to “we’re just as shallow as men, we like naked bodies.” Granted, expecting there to be some universal answer (i.e. all women are turrned on by the same stuff) is inherantly flawed, but I think at it’s base the idea of “pandering” suggests that there is a lowest common denominater that is being targeted.

  • Aeryl

    That of course is your right. But if you’re going to make a story that’s about slavery, ignoring sex slavery isn’t the way to go about it. And I respected that the rape scenes are shown in a way that is not meant to tantalize. They are brutal and straight forward. The sex scenes, on the other hand, have all this soft light and music, they are there to be tantalizing.

    Two of the main characters are survivors of multiple assaults, and they end up together. And the show never does a full out sex scene with them, because watching these two survivors would be voyeuristic. I want more people with those sensibilities making my fiction.

  • Aeryl

    Agron/Nasir for LIFE!!!

    The LGBT characters were completely awesome. The show portrayed their relationships just like any other, they had the same flaws and strengths. There was no judgement. Just all around badass!

  • Aeryl

    The male nudity was very geared to my bisexual gaze, IMO.

  • Virginie

    Spartacus was brilliant. It took a few episodes to hit its stride – in my opinion going from appalling to amazing about half way through the first season. From then on it really became of the most powerful, moving and involving things on TV. One of the most amazing things they did is made an audience care deeply about all the characters without pandering to any sort of contemporary morality.

  • Jim Gordon

    I think Spartacus’s strength in depicting gay people was because it wasn’t “LOOK THEY’RE GAY! SEE HOW PROGRESSIVE WE ARE!” It was more like. Here’s a badass. Here’s another badass. They’re both well rounded characters. Oh and they’re gay. Anyone being gay was just not an issue. It was refreshing.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Firstly, when it comes to inclusion, I don’t really care whether the decision from up top is for “legitimate” reasons or not, so long as it’s done WELL. At the end of the day, all corporate decisions are for money/audience wishes. Transformers: Animated wasn’t made because the guys in charge had a really compelling story to tell about robots and a little girl and space wars–it was made because Hasbro wanted to sell robot toys. That the show HAPPENED to be a really fun show in its own right was just a fortunate turn of events.

    And that’s what happens a lot of times. At least at first. TPTB decide they need This Thing to get better audiences, and then a Coin of Fate is flipped as to whether or not the people creating it can portray This Thing well or poorly. But so long as it keeps happening, new strides are made forward, and that’s all good.

    Secondly, in terms of DC’s transgender character (was there a lesbian? I’m behind on my Batgirl), that wasn’t a decision from TPTB to insert a token here. That was Gail Simone deciding that there were stories she wanted to tell and characters she wanted to explore. She’s never been shy about saying that. She’s doing it for her audience, but not to pander to them, but specifically because she believes that it’s time to show more kinds of people.

    Thirdly–most folks don’t get Starz, but many folks do go to libraries. Spartacus checks out pretty regularly from ours, and by all kinds of people. I’m not sure why it’s relevant that the show might first air on a less accessible channel (besides, it’s bound to be a sexy sexing show too).

  • Ta Vrána

    Huh, I think we could really use some kind of analysis on this.
    Imho, you might have been hit by the “equality percieved as majority” falacy – e.g. a group with 1/1 male/female ratio is percieved as mostly women (there is research but I don’t have any links handy rn). So, there could be pretty much 1/1 male/female nudity in the show, but because it’s so out of norm you percieve it as predominantly male.
    I don’t mean to criticise you, by the way, if this were true it wouldn’t be your fault simply because this is by definition a subconscious thing.

    (also, my apology to anyone concerned for the gender binary talk, I was aiming for readability here)