By CL Bledsoe
The term “guilty pleasures” is kind of a misnomer for me, because I was raised super-religious, which means that all pleasure is guilty, for me. Then, I went to college and grad. school for literature and writing, which means I can never enjoy anything creative ever without picking it apart until it’s dead, and then divining the future of art from its entrails. But I’m a big fan of space operas, and scifi in general.
There’s nothing I love more than binge watching some space opera show — except cheesecake. Okay, there’s nothing I love more than binge watching some space opera show while eating cheesecake when I’m not really supposed to be doing anything else: just holed up with my cheesecake, watching folks venture to other world, solve some big problem, and head out in under 45 minutes.
I’m not going to talk about the Star Trek franchise, because that would be a whole other article. I’m also not going to talk about Andromeda, aka Hercules in Space, because Sorbo is kind of crazypants. I’m going to talk about Stargate. From the Kurt Russel movie, to the first series and its’ subsequent spinoffs, I’m a big fan. If you’ve read my first Necro-Files novel: $7.50/hr. + Curses, you may remember that I randomly inserted a brief squee (which is like a screed but super into it!) about Stargate.
For real, though. You’ve got MacGuyver. You’ve got nerdy hot woman. You’ve got nerdy hot guy. You’ve got a great supporting cast of scifi regulars. You’ve got some poorly explained science we all just agree not to think about too much (um, hello? Aliens built some stuff, okay?). It’s really the perfect set up. They can go literally anywhere someone can think of (though most of the planets look like Vancouver for some reason). And solve all kinds of problems we’ve mostly seen before in other shows.
Let’s go ahead and talk about the elephant in the room: the big black guy alien with weird stuff on his face. Whether it’s Tealc in Stargate: SG1 or Warf in Star Trek: The Next Generation (okay, I talked about it a little), this is a strange trope that I don’t quite understand. Perhaps it comes from the idea of othering — the big black guy alien usually starts off as a bad guy and then becomes good. See? We shouldn’t judge people by their appearance. Even minorities can be decent people, it seems to say completely lacking in irony or self-awareness. Maybe we should even think about considering women as people? Some of them can even solve problems without men helping them! Stargate: Atlantis finally tweaked this weird trope by adding Jason Momoa to the mix, sans weird face stuff. Let’s call this progress. Yay!
But look, I can pick anything apart if I scratch at it hard enough. Even your favorite is problematic. It totally is. Yes it is. Maybe you just need to examine your privi — DANG IT. SORRY. This was supposed to be about enjoying things!
Okay, back to it. Look, Stargate isn’t trying to be the best show ever made. It isn’t trying to be groundbreaking. There’s no sexual intrigue or sociopolitical undertones, for the most part. It’s trying to be a solid, episodic, going-through-a-space-hole-to-weird-places show. And it certainly is that.
I don’t know how much it cost to make each episode, but it wasn’t enough. (No, I’m not Googling it. YOU’RE RUINING MY JOKE.) But it’s fun. Remember that? Fun? Remember liking things not because everyone else liked them — or not liking them because everyone else doesn’t like them — remember just opening up and being willing to enjoy something just because it’s neat? Remember that? What happened to that? A bunch of soulless jerks tried to kill it, is what, much like how the Wraith in Stargate: Atlantis suck out the life-forces of their victims, leaving them old, and in this deeply strained analogy, unhappy.
What I’m saying is shut up. Stop thinking so much. Just enjoy the thing — it doesn’t have to be this thing. It can totally be your own thing. Find your own thing! Not just whatever is popular right now! And maybe don’t even tell anyone about it, but if you do, and they sneer (like people do) just put your hands on either side of their face, look at them sadly, and squeeze until it pops. WAIT, NO, DON’T DO THAT! SORRY!!!!
Just do the thing — it doesn’t have to be TV! Go outside, even! But not too close to anyone!— and enjoy it and let it refill your depleted soul. Because life is hard and dumb and smells like fish. Having that secret thing is so important (as long as we’re not talking about freaky scary stuff, like murdery stuff. Don’t do that. Don’t hurt people. Please.). If the thing is truly, unforgivably problematic, you won’t be able to look past that, sure. So find a different thing. This honestly probably eliminates most stuff created by white people more than like 20 years old. 10 years old. 5 years — just use your best judgement.