Netflix & Chill: Travelers

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Travelers is co-produced by Showtime & Netflix. Airing first on Showtime and appearing on Netflix two months later. Here’s the basic idea of the show… The future is all fucked up, so in order to fix it, future humans develop the technology to send the consciousness of humans in the future, to the bodies of humans in the past. What happens to the consciousness of the human bodies they take over? Good question. Because it’s the future, they have the records of all past deaths, time and place. So… if Joe is going to die at 2:20 on Wednesday, they send someone back in time, to occupy his body seconds before his death, giving the new being in Joe’s body, time to stop the physical death and carry on in his body. What about Joe? He’s basically dead, his consciousness has been kicked out of his own body… “He was going to die anyway, so what’s the difference?” – seems to be the logic. These being call themselves, Travelers, and they are something like a SWAT team, coming back in groups to carry out missions.

The concept alone had me hooked. It’s a good spin on Sci-Fi. Eric McCormack of Will & Grace fame, stars as the lead. And don’t worry, seeing his familiar face does not take you out of the action of the show, he does a good job of making you forget you knew him. I’d like to keep the plot on ice, as much as possible, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. But, I’ve come up with a few categories to help evaluate the show.

Innovation

The show definitely puts its own spin on time travel, which has been done a million times. The first few episodes enlist some futuristic tools and concepts, I have yet to see. These episodes are probably the most interesting because you are gaining context, learning what tools characters are equipped with, in order to better understand how the characters can navigate the ensuing drama, and when conflict arises, have a better understanding of why the stakes are so high. Cool!

Diversity

Science Fiction is a genre that, more so than most others, gives you an excuse to diversify. Personally, I don’t think it should be that difficult with other genres… suspension of disbelief goes a long way… but, let’s play stupid for a moment and say something like this:

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-Tim Burton

Because Science Fiction is almost always associated with the future and is… FICTION, you can literally do whatever the fuck you want. Race, Gender, Sexuality, Color….. what the fuck does it matter, right? Apparently Not. Travelers is so surprisingly white, it’s frightening. These people can come and jump back in any body, as long as they are about to die… Any. Body. Yet, 4 of the 5 main travelers are white… Three out of five… men! Ya’ll could have jumped back in anyone! Okay, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, just because. Let’s say they jumped back into white bodies for the social benefits. Naw, nigga! One of the white bodies they jump back into is an “intellectually disabled” woman, who is registered with the state and has a social worker… Another white body is a “college aged, drug addict”… Do I need to say more? And the leader of this group…. is a man! A white man! I’m not saying white men can’t do anything, but damn, you could have switched up the formula. Just a bunch of straight white people saving the world, what a missed, mother fucking, opportunity!

Storyline

39511f10-a8aa-0134-195d-060e3e89e053While Travelers focuses on saving the world from impending doom it also follows the lives of the “host” bodies. One of the many laws travelers must follow, is continuing the life of the host body, or the identity of the person they have taken on… Okay, this is an opportunity to discuss a shit load of problems we have today, through the lens of someone from the future, where maybe they have a different perspective, where maybe we find that the absolutes we live by today, in all actuality, mean nothing…. Nope! Doesn’t happen, we just follow these boring ass, repetitive stories of their host lives where almost nothing is solved. It actually gets quite annoying, given how much time they spend on these stories. One traveler is a high school student, struggling with grades and obeying his parents… Who the fuck cares? This is a Showtime/Netflix original, this ain’t Degrassi! Another traveler, the only person of color in pretty much the entire show, is a single mother with an abusive baby daddy. Okay, this has been done, but it’s still worth navigating. But, they don’t do anything with it. The structure of the show let’s you get away with almost anything and you can’t even give us Sleeping With The Enemy! Damn! Ain’t nobody dealing with race, sexuality, gender identity, Beyoncé Deniers…. I mean come on! When the show strays away from the main focus of saving the world, things get boring at an alarming rate.

Writing

The writing of this show is 50-50. The problems that arrive will capture both your attention and interest, but it’s the follow travelers_1through that gets fucked up. The character bend the rules of being a Traveler SO MUCH, nothing matters. One episode can’t hinge on the need to follow a rule, so much so that characters have to make difficult decisions.. the drama! and then the next episode, another character just decides, “nah, I don’t feel like following that rule today.” and then… no consequences. You can’t play with us like that. We just spent all this time learning the rules and basing our panic off said rules and you just gon’ throw them out the window whenever you feel like it? Hell naw! We pissed off, you can’t place us. We’re devoting 13 hours of our lives to this show, don’t play us like that. Shit, what’s the point of any of it then? Let’s just break all the rules. Let’s just give up on all the missions and do whatever we want. Would you like it if in The Matrix, Neo said… “I could try and save humankind, but I’d rather fuck a bunch of women and go shopping…” …would you be happy with that? I don’t think so! Homie don’t play that.

Conclusion

Overall, the show is worth watching. You care about the characters, a little bit, enough to keep watching and see what happens. And there are some touching and exciting moments. It’s just when you look at the world of possibility for a show like this, you might find yourself a bit disappointed… or, depending on what makes America great, in your eyes… maybe not.

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