In last year’s round of television show cullings, The Expanse become one of the noted few to survive. Like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Lucifer alongside it, it was killed off by its own network, only for someone else to swoop in and save it. At the time, its fans were relieved, if not jubilant. In every sense of the word, it has become a true cult television show. The ultimate underdog. A quality scifi drama that persists thanks in part to a rabid fanbase, in spite of being overlooked in a crowded marketplace.
Last week’s Comic Con finally confirmed details for the new season, including promo photos, a shiny new trailer, and a release date in December. And though its fans and their passion have helped it become more of a topical series, it still flies under the radar. It is, to put it quite frankly, one of the best, most underrated shows airing currently on television. One that deserves far more attention than it gets.
So here are just a few of the many, many reasons why more people should be watching.
It’s The Perfect Balance Of Political Intrigue And Alien Weirdness
Science fiction is a genre that thrives on many moving conceptual parts. And The Expanse gets this down pat. In one corner, we have the growing tensions between Earth and and Mars, who’ve been dancing around full-out war for a while now. In the middle are underclass Belters inhabiting myriad stations and rocks along the asteroid belt. From here, the show explores complex political maneuvering in the multitude of parties working toward their own ends: fighting for the Belters, trying to prevent a war, or triggering mass violence for their own personal gain.
In the other corner, there’s the protomolecule. An almost indescribably alien…entity? lifeform? weapon? which is slowly transforming the human race’s understanding of the universe. The more it evolves and progresses, the weirder things get. Almost no one understands what the protomolecule is about or what it’s really capable of, which grows every season. Technology really does change everything.
It Takes Its Time
The show’s first season does have what is admittedly a bit of a slow start. It takes five or six episodes to really get going. While there’s action and conflict, much of it is devoted to worldbuilding. But this approach is ultimately a boon to the series. It’s methodical. It doesn’t rush into things. It wants you to know and understand its myriad of interesting characters. It presents a lot of different worldviews. It wants the viewer to know everything on the table, and everything that’s at stake.
This also means that when the big moments finally come, they matter all the more.
It Has Badass Women
It might not look it from the very beginning, but The Expanse has a truly amazing cast of women characters. We start small with the likes of Naomi Nagata and fan favorite Chrisjen Avsarala. From there, it just gets better and better. Second season adds in badass Martian Marine Bobbie Draper, while upgrading OPA stalwart Camina Drummer. Third season introduced the likes of Clarissa Mao and Anna Volovodov, with little doubt of plenty more to come.
And it’s not just numbers, though it’s nice to see them growing. The female characters boast a wide variety of personalities, abilities, and flaws. They have agency, they have complexity, they have individual goals and backstories, their choices are what guide and define them. From Avaserala’s sharp political savvy, Bobbie’s fierce duty and honor, to Naomi’s conviction to do what she believes is right.
From a genre that hasn’t done always done well in this corner, The Expanse is refreshingly successful when it comes to its female characters.
The Action Setpieces Are Amazing
Science fiction has a bit of a complicated history when it comes to action, not least of which because it can enable some incredible setpieces, but then struggle to not let them overtake story and character. (See: the rebooted Star Trek films.) At the end of the day, science fiction is about ideas. And if used right, action can be a great way of exploring that.
On The Expanse, action serves character and plot. Like the methodical plot progression, it means the big moments have more payoff. Less is truly more. There’s no mindnumbing indulgence in violence. Action is easy to follow, tactical, and utterly thrilling.
What’s more, SyFy clearly poured good money into the first three seasons, and the production values reflect that. No doubt this may very well be even more the case now that Amazon is footing the bill.
It Gets Better As It Goes
First season starts solid, and ends really well. Second season starts good, and ends great. Third season picked up on that greatness and steered it full well clear into amazing.
At the rate it’s progressing, with an even greater foundation, and more stories and characters to come, it’s not an exaggeration to say the series is likely bound to just get more and more incredible with every passing year.
The Expanse is not only one of the best genre shows on tv, but it’s also some of the best science fiction to come along in decades. And hopefully its transition to Amazon will help in the long run, aiding it in gaining more of the love and attention from the masses that it truly deserves.