Stargate Universe: Conflict, Realism, and Boobgate
I’ve been putting off watching the remainder of Stargate Universe’s first season because, to be perfectly honest, it’s kind of a drag to watch.
The two previous television incarnations of the Stargate mythos—SG-1 and Atlantis—worked well as formula genre television. There were really fun good guys, really entertaining, over-the-top bad guys (seriously, Apophis), plenty of space battles, aliens, and cool retro-future steampunk civilizations to explore on a weekly basis.
SGU is a willing departure into a more “real” science fictional world. When The Destiny’s accidental human crew encounter alien technology, they aren’t able to figure it out in all of 5 seconds. They’re also susceptible to the “real” emotional strain of being trapped in another galaxy on a mysterious ship with no idea where they’re heading and if they’ll ever get home. That, it seems, is the whole point of SGU- to prove to the audience that real space exploration, should humans ever get to try it, will not be all “open hailing frequencies” and exciting human-alien relationships, but an intense psychologically challenging experience that will force us to question everything we think we know about ourselves.
You know, kinda like … BSG, except without any appealing characters.
In fact, in SGU, space travel seems to take everyone’s flaws and amplify them tenfold. The show’s mantra (for the first half of the season at least) was always “This is the wrong crew, in the wrong place.” In other words, these characters are not highly skilled super humans who were born to whiz through space being awesome. They’re flawed people who either crumble under pressure or overcome their inadequacies depending on what the writers need them to do that week.
After the first half of the season, which I dutifully watched hoping that things would get more exciting and less dour, I was almost relieved when the show went on its mid-season break. One less obligation to watch the frustratingly “real” characters undergo a series of psychological tests, masquerading as space exploration. Because the more I watched SGU, the more I felt that too much reality in a science fiction show can really suck the life out of a series. And as much as I wanted to pretend like Stargate Universe was going to be a decent show, week after week it sucked the life out of me. (*One noteworthy exception: the episode “Time”).
So where does SGU stand now? The post-hiatus episode “Space” was okay—kudos for 1) aliens, and 2) a space battle. But what really stood out in the episode (and not in a good way) was not the alien/human conflict, but the internal crew conflicts. Col. Young vs. Rush, Col. Young vs. Camille, Eli vs. Everything, the civilians vs. the military…it just doesn’t stop. I get it, ok? When you take a bunch of humans and trap them on a ship, they act out all their petty human tendencies. Yada yada yada. I want more aliens.
No matter what side of the SGU line you fall—whether you think it’s a great step in the right direction for grittier, more reality-based sci-fi, or whether you think it’s a giant, boring flop, SGU and Google Analytics has proved one very reality-based truth about it’s very real human audience: People like Julia Benson’s boobs.
Since early April, when SGU started airing new episodes, and featuring actress Julia Benson more prominently, about 40% of the traffic on my little personal blog has been devoted to people desperately seeking more information about Benson and her boobs. At first I thought it was a random spike due to the return of SGU. But the searches have remained consistent- every day, more and more people end up here because they think I might be able to shed new light on Benson’s boobs.
They are of course sorely disappointed, but their trail of desperation remains alive and well in my analytics, bringing me all sorts of reasons to giggle at the inventive search terms they’re inputting into the google machine:
If the SGU writers/producers and Syfy execs can be sure of anything, it’s that when Julia Benson flashes across the scene, their largely male audience pays attention.
I’m renaming this whole phenomena SGU’s “Boobgate.”
Here’s the original post that the boob-oglers keep landing on.