On becoming an Expanse fan

Back in 2017, I watched the first five episodes of The Expanse, but bounced off of it. I was intrigued by the plot and a couple of the characters, but the show overall just didn’t grab me.

I was especially put off by it being yet another TV show where the writers had apparently decided that the most interesting characters were the straight white men, despite it being full of interesting characters of at least two genders, at least two sexual orientations, and multiple racial backgrounds. And I was most especially put off by the focus on Miller, who struck me as a very generic character from a completely different genre, and whose creepy obsession with someone he had never met made me roll my eyes.

(Lightly edited comment from my notes at the time: “The writers want Miller to be the tarnished knight, the Chandler hero. But he’s kind of a bro. He’s obsessed with [name redacted for minor-spoiler reasons], and he’s certain that she was an innocent who got into stuff accidentally and that he could/should/would have saved her.”)

Anyway, at the end of s1e5, I gave up on the show.

But a few months ago, Kam expressed interest in watching it, and I figured it might be fun to watch it together. So we started in on it. And I found that I liked those episodes more the second time through.

I still disliked the heavy focus on Holden and Miller (especially Miller), but having a better idea of what to expect helped me like other aspects more, and snarking to Kam about Miller (after checking with her to be sure she was OK with that) helped me get through the Miller stuff.

And we kept going, past the episode where I had given up, and the show kept getting more interesting.

And so we watched through the first four seasons and the current season 5, and yesterday we caught up and watched the latest aired episode. And I’ve now purchased the Blu-ray discs of the first four seasons (so we have some making-of material to watch while we’re waiting for new episodes), and the boardgame (hoping to play that today).

I had previously bounced off of the first novel in the series, too, but I recently re-read the beginning of that and liked it significantly more than I previously had. Not sure I want to get into the books right now—I have a whole lot of other books to read, and I don’t tend to do well with long books, and starting in on a series of nine long novels (plus several shorter works) sounds kind of exhausting to me. But it could happen.

Anyway, all this to say that rather to my surprise, I’ve become a fan of the show.

I would be cautious about recommending it without a bunch of content warnings. Among other things, it’s the kind of show where characters who appear to be main characters regularly die, often in sudden and violent ways. And it has the aspirational post-racial approach to race that a lot of science fiction has, in that racial prejudice has been replaced with regional prejudice. (The Earthers and the Martians and the Belters all hate each other, but never on the basis of skin color or region-of-Earth-ancestry.) (There’s also no prejudice based on gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, etc. Maybe a few bits of classism here and there.) And the actor who plays one of the main characters has recently been accused of sexual harassment and assault.

And the show certainly has flaws.

But overall, I’m liking it a lot, and I love some of the characters, and I’m disappointed that next season will be the last.

Join the Conversation