Don’t say you weren’t warned: I’m about to swarm The wide. Even shower it with praise. But before I do, here are some things that are not good across the expanse.
- The acting is often off the mark, downright bizarre at times.
- Dialogue is regularly stilted and unnatural.
- Although there is a lot of heavy work to be done, the CGI can feel creaky and cheap.
- Literally every decision Detective Miller (played by Thomas Jane) makes makes no sense.
- Thomas Jane hat. A terrible hat. Possibly the worst TV hat ever.
- See also: Thomas Jane’s haircut.
Whenever I’m going flat out trying to convince someone to watch The Expanse, I want to get this list out of the way. I want people to know from the start, this TV show isn’t perfect. Depending on what you value about your TV, you might even call The Expanse “bad”.
I don’t think The Expanse is bad.
On the contrary, I think The Expanse is very good. Often, despite its shortcomings, it is good. Sometimes it is expanded through these shortcomings.
Set hundreds of years in the future when humans are spread across the solar system, The Expanse is based on a series of hard-hitting sci-fi novels written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the pen-name James SA Corey. It is dense with unparalleled universe formation. It’s a show about the very real dangers of spaceflight and colonization, but also a surprisingly nuanced show that delves into interplanetary politics and class struggle.
In one corner we have the earth and all its inhabitants. In the other Mars. The people who colonized Mars are a military-oriented, tough group of people who tend to use violence to resolve conflicts. Those still on Earth are the cute, politically savvy elite.
The wildcards are the Belters, denizens of outer planets and asteroid belts who have developed their own creole language along with a culture entirely separate from humans on Earth and Mars. Tired of being trampled on by the “Earthers,” the Belters are threatening revolution, but lack the power or resources to truly fight back their oppressors.
Everything that occurs in The Expanse springs from the tensions between these three distinct groups.
The magic of The Expanse is how effortlessly the show switches between genres. It’s hardcore sci-fi at all times, but for the first few seasons, The Expanse plays like one. Later it’s a show about extraterrestrial technology and the arms race that goes with it. Then it becomes a show about exploring alien new planets. At the end of the day, The Expanse is a show about all of those things, but it puts its uniquely crafted universe front and center, giving it a consistent line that lesser sci-fi shows don’t have.
The show’s aesthetic plays a similar trick. Not everyone likes its metallic, video game-esque color scheme, but I like it video gamesso I’m a fan. The Expanse feels like me think might feel like a mass effects show if that even comes to fruition and is kinda decent. The Expanse is cool, clinical and smart – and at times the wooden performances amplify that in a way that should be bad but often feels Well? In a universe lacking warmth, pared-down, minimalistic performances make sense.
Yes, I’m confused too. But it works.
Ultimately, The Expanse is a show that will never disappoint. Similar to Dark – for my money— The Expanse is now fully complete and unlike most sci-fi shows, it defied all odds and ended well. Some of its six seasons are better than others, but The Expanse is incredibly consistent. You’ll be shocked at how much space it covers and how seamlessly it transitions from one civilization-changing crisis to the next.
It’s funny, but almost everyone I know who watches The Expanse, myself included, loves to complain about it. You’ll complain about the clunky dialogue and weird performances, but there’s nothing quite like it. It’s a show doggedly carried on by its strengths, to a level of quality it just can’t match. You owe it to yourself to watch, if only to make your own list of things in The Expanse that annoy you.
Just make sure this list includes Thomas Jane’s hat. Unforgivable.
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