The Crowd Goes Frakking Wild

(Disclaimer: This post contains a few minor spoilers for Caprica, but no major plot points unless you really have no idea what the show is about. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

If I had to name one thing that I loved about Battlestar Galactica (other than EPIC SPACE BATTLES) it would have to be the show’s presentation of gender equaity as something completely unremarkable. The show didn’t have a perfect feminist track record by any means (that abortion episode was absolutely horrendous), but it took the notion of a futuristic society in which patriarchy is all but extinct – an idea that has been prevalent in sci-fi since Lt. Uhura donned that ridiculously skimpy Starfleet uniform – and made it believable. Gender in Battlestar just wasn’t an issue. Women were represented everywhere – as fighter pilots, as engineers, as killer robots, as president of the goddamn colonies – as though they were, like, human beings or something. They had relationships with men, but those relationships didn’t define them. Some were great at their jobs; some weren’t; most were somewhere in between. Some were badasses. Some were irritating. Some were killer robots. It was awesome.

Caprica, while it does continue the tradition of ladies-as-killer-robots, just doesn’t have that same feminist edge to it. The creepy and fairly generic promo poster that came our a while ago seems like the antithesis of the Battlestar aesthetic. The women of Battlestar Galactica were, for the most part, insanely gorgeous, but they weren’t sexualized. Most of them wore the exact same jumpsuits and cargo pants as the men did, and often looked just as tired and rough as their male colleagues. As a woman who doesn’t look (or dress) like a supermodel, I found this refreshing. As a queer woman, I also found it incredibly hot, but that’s another story. Ronald D. Moore, the creator of both the rebooted Battlestar Galactica and the prequel, has stated outright that he designed Caprica to appeal to a female audience – in which case, advertising it with an image of a naked teenage girl seems like a bit of a weird choice.

Kara Thrace would not approve.

Maybe it’s part of the vaguely 1950s-ish aesthetic, or the fact that Caprican society isn’t supposed to be perceived as entirely progressive (this is six decades before the eventsof Battlestar, after all) but Caprica really does seem to be a man’s world. The women don’t lack agency, but so far they seem to be pawns in someone else’s game, while the men get to move the plot forward. Even Zoe, who is, after all, a killer robot, mostly stands around in a party dress, looking forlorn. (At least we know where Caprica Six got her fashion sense.) I’m optimistic that this will change – Zoe is the focal point of the show, after all, so it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for her to do nothing but get blown up – but so far, I’m not all that impressed.

Having said that, Caprica is a hell of a lot more progressive than most of the shows on TV, sci-fi or otherwise. The show clearly plans to address issues of race and class, though it remains to be seen how well this will be done. Every episode so far has passed the Bedchel test, even if one of the women in question is sometimes a robot. And the latest episode revealed that one of the main characters, a tough, macho gangster , is married to a man – and better yet, like the gender equality in Battlestar this is presented as a non-issue. Considering how often sci-fi has shied away from portraying futuristic societies as non-heteronormative, that aspect of the episode made me really happy. And overall, Caprica is a damn good show. It just has a lot to live up to.

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