The SyFy Channel has been churning out some truly quality series lately. The last few years have been a torrent of fantastic shows both visually stunning, and intellectually intriguing. Defiance, 12 Monkeys, Killjoys, Dark Matter, and The Magicians are all top notch programs that deserve attention. But the most striking of them all is unquestionably The Expanse.
Simply put, it might be the best science fiction show in nearly a decade! Based off the lauded book series by James S. A. Corey, The Expanse must be judged solely on its own merits. The story focuses on the burgeoning rebellion of Belters—humans who live, work, and die in the solar system’s asteroid belt—against the people of Mars and Earth, who treat Belters like slaves. Political intrigue drives the various storylines, textured with greed, dark conspiracies, and intricately woven characters that come together in a fascinating, always captivating plot.
A great story is only as good as its characters, and The Expanse couldn’t offer more complex, interesting people to fall in love with, or hate, as the case may be. What could have easily become cardboard tropes and bland archetypes quickly rise above all that. Every character feels completely real and believable, with motivations anyone—at least any fan of science fiction—can relate to.
As good as the characters are, they only come to life thanks to a perfect cast of actors. Every actor on the show deserves praise, particularly Thomas Jane, Shohreh Aghadashloo, Dominique Tipper, and Steven Strait. The Expanse truly is an ensemble cast with no weak links, where every scene mesmerizes through sparkling dialogue delivered by remarkable actors.
The Expanse gives us a story that is hauntingly relevant to our contemporary consciousness: political power struggles, class warfare, workers rights, the role of religion in society. Nothing is beyond belief, from the characters, to their relationships, to the politics of a nascent colonized solar system. It is a troubling, yet envious glimpse into our future made accessible by both the series’ writers, and source material’s perfectly envisioned future.
The visual effects in The Expanse are undeniably the new standard for science fiction on television. Where some shows might accept a “that’s enough” attitude when it comes to the details, The Expanse goes above and beyond. Every space suit looks as if it were actually designed for form, fit, and function. The spaceships are not elegant or fantastical, yet no less beautiful in their functionality and purposefulness. Even the tech used by everyday citizens looks like a PowerPoint presentation for Samsung or Apple investors.
The Expanse is a magnificent triumph of storytelling and visual effects, and there will come a time when we will discuss it’s place among the best science fiction series of all time. Of course, only time will tell, but I don’t hesitate to predict The Expanse is going to be captivating fans for years to come. After all, how many shows spawn a hashtag for a piece of clothing?
Check it out!