No Whimsy, Sugar (taste_is_sweet) wrote,
No Whimsy, Sugar
taste_is_sweet

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'Almost' only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades

Might as well get this out of the way now: I love fictional androids. It's the whole not-human-but-striving-to-be-and/or-understand-humans thing, especially when they're used to point out all the very, very many ways that we humans don't make any sense. And I love the cynical but lonely humans who get paired with the androids and then, despite themselves, fall in love become their friend.

I may have written fanfiction on that very premise. I admit nothing.

As you can imagine, with my love of human-like robots, I was looking forward to Almost Human the way my son is looking forward to Christmas. The show's set in the near-future, where cops are issued robots like handguns. Karl Urban plays John Kennex (not to be confused with John Sheppard or any of the thousands of other fictional characters called 'John'), who is an embittered, physically and emotionally scarred, cynical and guilt-ridden detective.

Naturally, Kennex's go-to problem solving method is violence, including killing incapacitated bad guys (because due process is for pussies, amirite?) and getting rid of things that bug him by throwing them out. Of his car. On the freeway. (Because safety and private property are also for pussies.)


Start at .22 for the full impact. Heh.

He is reluctantly paired with Dorian, a sweet, thoughtful, kind and beautiful heroic android, who sees the special snowflake inside Kennex and immediately saves his life. Or maybe he's programmed that way; the show is a little unclear on that point. Anyway, they form a forced but then genuine partnership based on sarcastic jibes and mutual antagonism. And together they solve crime.

Michael Ealy is totally lovable. Look at that lovable smile.
 photo MichaelEaly.jpg

What's not to love, right? It promised to be a mash-up of Blade Runner, RoboCop and Due South, except where the Mountie's a robot and the Cop would be played by a New Zealander instead of a Canadian.

And then it finally aired, and four episodes later the show just makes me sad.

I've been trying to put my finger on exactly why a show that's ostensibly exactly what I could ever want has disappointed me so much. I think it's because, for something set up to be more about human/android relations than crime solving, it's turned out to be pretty much Law and Order: Everyone Has a Robot. I have no idea what rights Dorian may or may not have; I have no idea how he may feel about those rights; I don't even know what he does in his off-hours or where he does it. Does he go into standby mode? Does he borrow Kennex's desk and play spider solitaire? Does he have a designated wall-socket? Does he dream of electric sheep? All I know for sure after four episodes is that he doesn't want to die (not exactly a shock) and that he's way more useful than an iPhone.

What really gets my synthetic goat, though, is how the production of the show itself conforms so much to the status quo that you can paint the lack of inclusion by number. Of six regular cast members, only two are women, and the only female androids have been sex-bots.

Even worse, So far in the series the only people of color have been extras or have played bit parts. And yes, that includes Michael Ealy.

Why? Because he plays an android. His role in the show is as an other, not as a human. Dorian isn't a person of color because he isn't a person at all. I might feel differently if Dorian was more than an ingenious cipher, but until we find out how he feels about, well, anything, he isn't. And unfortunately, the show seems to be in no hurry to change that, either.

So instead of watching the beautiful men bantering, looking at each other longingly and saving each others' lives, I keep waiting for the show I wanted to actually begin. The body may be shiny and very nice to look at, but I'm still searching for a heart of gold.

Tags: reviews, sci-fi, stuff i care about, whining, yes i watch television
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