Review: Lost in Space

One of Netflix’s latest original shows is Lost in Space, which follows the Robinson family as they crash land on a deserted planet. I didn’t watch the original show, but I’m familiar with it and I’m sure I’ve seen an episode or two. From what I can tell, this show is a total reboot, and most similarity with the original show exists more in terms of names and references.

Yes, there is a robot, but it’s a totally different robot. Yes, there is a Robinson family, but it’s a totally different family. Yes, they’re lost in space, but the plot is completely different.

All in all, I liked the show. I love space things, I thought the aesthetic was well done — very sleek/realistic, sort of like Mass Effect. The robot looked cool. The planet was interesting. The structure of the show worked, which had character-specific Lost style flashbacks.

What grinds my gears about the show, though, is that the Robinson family is deeply unlikeable and incompetent but the show just pretends that they’re popular heroes. Almost every disastrous situation the Robinson family heroically escaped from is the direct result of their own ineptitude, arrogance or general foolishness, and not only are they completely lacking in self-awareness, but the show seems to be lacking in any awareness that their main characters are total pricks.

I want to give a litany of examples, because almost every single thing that happens in the show is one, but I also don’t want to spoil it. The show starts off with Will hesitating to go collect some supplies which inspires his sister, completely lacking in foresight and impulse control, to jump in and endanger herself and everyone else, which becomes the plot of the first episode. Every episode is like this.

Here is the basic outline for every episode: one or more members of the Robinson family do something completely ill-advised and shortsighted causing a life-threatening situation to occur, then they or another member of the Robinson family gets them out of the jam they caused and the show plays heroic music and in some cases, other characters in the show actually praise and applaud them for their heroism. I thought these people were supposed to be super smart scientists? Apparently not.

Not only are they really really dumb despite the show telling us repeatedly that they’re all brilliant, they’re also mean. They’re jerks to literally every single person they meet for no reason at all. They meet a friendly guy named Don, instantly start treating him like garbage. Later they find out that he’s a (very) innocuous smuggler and use this to retroactively justify why they were treating him like trash. Don, by the way, is the only person in the show who actually seems like a rationally thinking human being.

They’re constantly disobeying the wishes of the colony’s elected leader and eventually mutiny (once again, to “solve” a situation they were directly responsible for causing) and the show plays off that guy like he’s some kind of antagonist in terms of the music score and the way he’s situated into the structure of the plot, except, he never antagonizes them in any way, his decisions are level headed and it’s the Robinsons who keep screwing things up. He doesn’t even hold a grudge.

It’s the Karate Kid all over again. The main characters of this show are not heroes. They’re directly responsible for almost every single problem they experience, they screw up everyone else’s plans, and they’re mean to everyone for no reason, from the mom’s arrogance to the oldest daughter’s sanctimoniousness to the other daughter’s brattiness and so on. There’s this weird disconnect between what the show is telling us (the Robinsons are brilliant heroes) and what the show is showing us (the Robinsons are stupid, impulsive, petty, egotistical fools).

Anyway, I thought it was pretty good. I’ll watch the next season.

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