7 (not) sci-fi series in danger of not seeing another season

by Paul William Tenny

This story at Blastr is notable only because it triggered one of my pet peeves: people stretching the term "science fiction" well beyond the breaking point:

Over at Entertainment Weekly, Lynette Rice and James Hibberd published a list of every 2010-11 broadcast show, along with its chances of survival. And it looks like a number of our sci-fi favorites are in that limbo between renewal and cancellation.

Here's how they sorted out the sci-fi-themed shows

First it's "sci-fi favorites" in limbo, then it's quickly "sci-fi themed shows". Third on their list of shows that "could go either way list" is Supernatural.

Yes, that Supernatural:

Starring Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester and Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester, the series follows the brothers as they hunt demons and other figures of the paranormal.

Ghosts, zombies, vampires, and an epic war between angels and demons. People not completely detached from reality call (fantastic) shows like that horror, fantasy, or simply the catch-all drama.

But science fiction? Really? Has anyone at Blastr ever watched this show before? Where precisely is the science in the fifth season-long arc where the archangel Michael prepares to do battle with Lucifer, wiping out a significant portion of mankind as the earth becomes their battlefield?

And some of these other shows aren't really any better. The Big Bang Theory is a sitcom for crying out loud. Here's what Theory is:

Set in Pasadena, California, the show is centered on five characters: two roommate Caltech geniuses, experimental physicist Leonard Hofstadter and theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper; their neighbor across the hall Penny, an attractive blonde waitress and aspiring actress; and Leonard's and Sheldon's equally geeky and socially awkward co-workers and friends Howard Wolowitz, an Aerospace engineer and a non-PhD from JPL, and Rajesh Koothrappali, a particle astrophysicist postdoc also working at Caltech. The geekiness and intellect of the four guys are contrasted for comic effect with Penny's social skills and common sense.

Contrast that and Supernatural to the actual definition of science fiction: Literary fantasy involving the imagined impact of science on society.

See a lot of insightful stories about the imagined impact of science on society on sitcoms, do we?

It's not science fiction just because there are space ships and aliens (V) or because the main characters are supposedly scientists (Big Bang Theory). And I can't even imagine an excuse for Supernatural, or The Vampire Diaries.

Vampires? Since when did horror and fantasy become science fiction? Has our society become so illiterate that it doesn't even understand what science is anymore?

It certainly appears so, at least when it comes to TV and theater. I like a lot of these shows but I see now good reason to lie about what they really are.

in Television


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