Tuesday, April 17, 2018

5 Reasons to Watch SyFy’s Krypton [Contributor: Melanie]

Krytpon is the newest show in a slew of media that is giving the Man of Steel some new life. The SyFy original series stars Cameron Cuffe as Seg-El — the grandfather to the future Kal-El — who has recently found himself as the last remaining member of the disgraced House of El after the execution of his grandfather and parents. Set 200 years before Superman’s time, it details a time when Kandor City was under the theocratic rule of a tyrant known as the Voice of Rao. When the discoveries of extraterrestrial life — made by the House of El — threaten the classist theocracy that has kept order on Krypton, Seg must ensure the survival of Krypton from the world-collector Brainiac.

If this sounds nerdy as all get out, it’s because it is.

The show also stars Georgina Campbell as Lyta-Zod (whose name should ring a bell as a kinswoman to the future Dru-Zod) the forbidden love interest to Seg and a commander in the Kryptonian military guild, Shaun Sipos as the spacetime traveler Adam Strange (more bells should be ringing there), Elliot Cowan as the oligarchy-defending city magistrate Daron-Vex, Rasmus Hardiker as Seg’s best friend and bartender Kem, Ian McElhinney Seg’s own grandfather Val-El, and Blake Ritson as the looming Brainiac.

Maybe you’ve seen some things about this show, or maybe you have no clue and really don’t care. But if you’re someone who’s likely to scoff when I tell you Superman is my favorite superhero, I can promise you that this show is not your dad’s (or granddad’s) Superman. Everyone’s favorite Blue Boyscout has seen a nihilistic revival recently, thanks to Zack Snyder’s serious and dark interpretation in the DC Cinematic Universe. The CW’s Supergirl plays him a little closer to tradition but with a very flawed side. Despite the tones of this show, I’d liken it more to Supergirl’s interpretation: You don’t need Superman to make a good Superman show.

Here are some reasons why you should really give this one a go if you’re on the fence or have a history of despising Superman-related media:

1. Female representation

This is always number one on my list. It’s one of the first things I consider while watching something. It may sound stupid to some — to base your viewing preferences on diversity inclusion — but I’ve had to set aside my social morals for so much media in my life that at this point I feel inclined to screen my calls here.

This show has some major female presence, and it’s not just the objectively pretty, white face of Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Day). Our second main character is Lyta-Zod, a warrior and woman of color who by the second episode rises to the rank of commander when she invokes a combat trial to assume leadership of her unit. She does this after disagreeing with the tactics of her current commander and, when diplomacy fails, sees this as the only way to ensure the safety of the poor, “rankless” Kryptonian class.

I will do you one better here: Her mother (Ann Ogbomo) is the Primus of the Kryptonian military and they have plenty of Bechdel Test-worthy conversations about leadership and loyalty and their duty to the government and their home. The relationship between Lyta and Jayna is one of the most interesting parts of the series so far. They butt heads over tradition, over compassion for the poor, and over what exactly duty to their government and homeland means. In a time where the hardcore — and misinformed — believe those who criticize their own government out of concern for their fellow citizens cannot be true patriots, the old order vs. the new order motif with Jayna and Lyta is super relevant. And watching two women of color, in high ranking leadership positions, have philosophical discussions about society, military, and patriotism in a genre normally dominated by white men brings a warmth to my heart.

2. It hits the issue of institutionalized oligarchy head-on

In pretty much all Superman media, Krypton is portrayed as a utopia gone wrong. It plays like Rome — something that got too big and too successful to continue to thrive at the same level and, eventually, fell into ruin. This Krypton is a lot bleaker than that. Rather than the towering spires and shining, domed city we’re usually treated to, we spend most of our time in the slums of Kandor with the “rankless”: those who do not belong to a noble family or guild. They’re marketplace vendors, bartenders, service workers, the homeless, and many other familiar professions and positions. The ranked families, such as the houses of Vex, Zod, and El have considerable control, are in positions of power, and actively work to maintain that status quo. Daron-Vex even gives a lovely speech about the importance of order to their world, and how that order is contingent on the continued religious beliefs and the monopoly of power held by the ranked families.

Sounds familiar.

3. Honestly, it’s a giant metaphor for cross-generational alliances

Every generation likes to stand out and ostracize itself from the ones before or after. They even like to blame each other. The rivalry between Baby Boomers and Millennials and, conversely, the supportive relationship between Millennials and Generation Z comes to mind strongly when looking at this show. Seg isn’t saving Krypton for himself; he’s doing it to make sure Superman is born, John Connor style. He’s given information about the future generation and working to ensure there is a world for it to exist in. Something we should ALL be doing. Not to get too dicey here, but there’s a reason the housing market collapse, and Toys R Us is going out of business, and social security is dwindling. and it’s not because Millennials aren’t having enough babies or buying diamonds or something. It’s because the practices of the previous generations were not sustainable. Krypton is about ensuring a sustainable world for future generations, especially if that future generation will raise “the greatest hero in the universe.” Krypton’s oligarchy and theocratic dictator have to go to ensure the survival of future generations.

Also sounds familiar.

4. It’s basically Game of Thrones in space

Okay, Game of Thrones is a teeny tiny bit more complex than this, but it’s pretty close. Objectively, they have similarities: noble families, intrigue, executions, espionage, trials by combat. But it just as that feel of the things Game of Thrones is trying to get at. It looks at a society that is very much in its twilight, Krypton is only a century or two away from its end and a government based on noble rank is tumbling down. It also deals with the archaic dangers of absolute rule and the need for a commonality between those in power and those below. They also both feature an otherworldly villain that might be the key to uniting everyone. Essentially, it’s political intrigue mixing with mysticism, in this case, we’re looking at sci-fi — very familiar sci-fi.

5. It’s full of Easter eggs, while not being oversaturated by them

We live in a world of overexposure here. Just look at the cast list for Avengers: Infinity War. Everything is about wider cinematic universes and having a Star Wars movie come out every five months (I can’t even pretend that I hate that). Krypton stays away from having too many winks at the audience. While there are plenty of traditional DC characters filling the ranks between the show’s original creations, there isn’t a bill of five superheroes fighting for the spotlight. Batman isn’t going to show up on Krypton, Wonder Woman isn’t going to drop in, there’s not some LexCorp van going by while Aquaman leaps from the sea. It’s a contained story. But it also does justice to the characters and entities it does utilize: Adam Strange, Brainiac, and Black Zero.

Basically, catch up on this show if you need a fix of intelligent Superman media with a healthy dose of social realness of female representation.


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