So much of the science fiction that appears on TV and in movies these days is overwhelmingly pessimistic (looking at you, Black Mirror, you know we love you). Netflix's Lost in Space is very much the opposite: optimistic about humanity's future, capabilities, and very nature. That makes it a breath of fresh air--and also causes its creators to make some pretty lofty comparisons.
During Wondercon group interviews last month, Lost in Space co-creator Burk Sharpless said while some TV is dark and complex, "There's also another feeling, which is the feeling you might get when you're watching Jurassic Park or the best Marvel movie. Where you're just like, 'Holy s***!' You don't even know how entertained you are, you're like so lost in the popcorn-eating momentum of the experience. And I think above everything that's the sort of experience we're trying to get for Lost In Space, like a ten hour, true summer blockbuster cinema epic, where you get all those sort of Spielberg feelings."
"We like using Jurassic Park as a good model for our show," said Lost in Space executive producer Zack Estrin. "Adults went to and loved it, and kids went to and loved it, for completely different reasons. And there's not a lot of things right now where you can go and have those same feels."
Lost in Space puts the Robinson family through a lot, as disaster strikes their colony ship and they crash land on a mysterious, alien planet. They face plenty of hardship, but ultimately they work together to overcome it. It's not the type of show with lots of grand, Machiavellian scheming--besides Dr. Smith, who's a real piece of work--or Game of Thrones style character deaths.
"It's an optimistic show. It's a hopeful show. We're not doing a dystopian future where everybody hates each other, like a lot of shows do right now," Estrin said. "This is really something that I think is aspirational, and in a time where there's not a lot of that on TV."
It helps that Lost in Space's characters are so relatable--not because they're idealized or perfect versions of ourselves, but because they do their best despite being severely flawed.
"The thing I admire in John is that he is somebody who knows that he has got it wrong, and he's trying to put it right," said Toby Stephens, who plays John Robinson. "Not only for his relationship with his wife, but individually, his relationships with his children. He's trying to not only save their lives, but he's also trying to do the right thing. And I think that's what I really like about this series, is that it's something that is aspirational without being sentimental. It's about people trying to be better people and trying to do the right thing."
"I think that that's something we kind of need right now, because the world is really depressing at the moment, and things are really frightening," he continued. "You watch TV and a lot of it is really depressing--and brilliant--but pretty much depressing. And I think what's nice is you can get lost in the adventure of this, but also these are people who are trying to be better. And I think there's something uplifting about watching that."
"I have played a number of strong women in my career, and one of the things that, for me, just feels really good about the show is that none of it is spoken about," said Molly Parker, who plays Maureen Robinson. "No one talks about the fact that our daughter's mixed race. Nobody talks about the fact that this woman can do whatever this man can do. We've all been trained. We all have the capacity. We can do what needs to be done. I like that we've imagined ourselves into a future where we've worked that out."
Estrin said Lost in Space is exciting for him specifically because of his daughters, who are 14 and 11 years old. "I've done a lot of TV, and nothing that they're interested in watching, or should be allowed to be watching. This is the first one where they have fallen in love with it," he said. "When I first talked about doing the show, I was talking to them, and I found myself saying--my daughters, actually, saying, 'What would happen to us if we crashed on a planet? What would we do?' And in the back of my head I'm thinking, 'Oh, we would be so f***ed.' Because I'm not John Robinson."
Lost in Space is available on Netflix now.
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