Space Force: Solidifying Modern Media Tropes
Strategically released the same weekend in which NASA and SpaceX launched humans into space as a first for the team, Netflix's Space Force presents a satirical narrative for a struggling nation. The Office's Steve Carrell has been developing the series in response to President Trump's real creation of a sixth branch of military, the Space Force. While this seems like a questionable premise for a TV series at a time when political tensions are prevalent enough, the show does well in critically depicting not just the sphere of politics, but all aspects of modern American society.
A description of the show:
Space Force is a workplace comedy series that centers on a group of people tasked with establishing the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces, the United States Space Force. Carell's character, Mark Naird, is the general in charge of the effort and the series follows his collaboration to get "boots on the moon" per the orders of the President.
Carrell is joined by actors Lisa Kudrow, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz and more, each acting as a archetype of the modern age media and shows. While each character comes into the series seemingly underdeveloped and therefore hard to connect with, this in a sense makes it that much more relatable to a society in which presumptions shape our beliefs of others. Rather than growth throughout the season, the personalities of the characters seem to indulge the circumstances they are thrown into in an almost predictable, yet comforting manner. I can't decide yet if this method of writing works for audiences or not, but I suppose that's what a second season would have to confront.
I've compiled a list of the most relevant tropes and themes found within the first season, and how they may apply to the damaged world we are all attempting to navigate at the moment:
The Damaged Daughter: Erin is left to fend for herself as her parents are busy in work or prison. She is a product of a society which favors individual success and reform, rather than collective prosperity. Turning to drugs, alcohol, boys, or failing friendships, Erin serves as an archetype of the struggling teenager trying to make sense of her world.
Modern Marriage: Mark and Maggie had a perfect marriage, family, and life in Washington DC, but were broken apart physically and metaphorically upon the move to Space Force's base. With Maggie now in prison, their conventional family is torn to its base. With distance and lack of connection, Maggie hopes for an open marriage to explore her sexuality away from Mark, while Mark just wants her to be happy. In an age of quick communication, constant travel, and pursuit of individual goals, the sanctity of marriage as it stands is in question.
Government Spending, Budgeting, and Misplaced Revenue: The fictional Space Force racks up hundreds of millions of dollars of debt through unnecessary spending, experiments, and preventable failures. The comedic success of the show lies in its poor execution of power, a testament to the times and the insufficient allocation of resources, time, money, and attention within the Government's spending.
Global Tensions: Space Force highlight the escalation of conflict between the US and China in a manner that is quite comical. Battling for resources, supremacy, and a place on the moon leaves the two countries void of success and deeper in conflict with one another, a narrative that is currently being played out in the real world all the same.
Relevant, comical, and timely, Space Force represents modern entertainment in its simplest form: applying tropes to such narratives allows for quick connection to the material by audiences and an escape from the monotony of reality.