How Space Force Leads In Unconventional Relationships
When Space Force first came out, viewers were quick to tune in. According to Netflix's viewership count, over 40 million people watched the show within the first month of its release.
The reviews were... not great. Some people liked it and a lot of people hated it. The Verge called it "astonishingly bad", Vulture called it a "massive misfire," and Rolling Stone said it "suffers failure to launch."
While this may be true, Space Force still got something right. Its portrayal of romantic relationships actually reflects the diversity of dating arrangements that people adopt in today's digital age.
Within the first season, the show casually introduces multiple unconventional relationships. The first is a non-monogamous relationship between a married couple, none other than Steve Carell in his role as Mark Naird and Lisa Kudrow in her role as Maggie Naird.
The second is a long-distance relationship between a scientist and an astronaut in space. Their relationship forms through a screen, a nod to one of the most popular features of modern dating in the early stages—getting to know each other over gadgets.
In one of the episodes, Maggie is sentenced to time in prison and asks for an open relationship with her husband, Mark, since they will no longer be able to see each other regularly. Mark shoots down the idea almost instantly, but after a while changes his mind. Maggie, who’s in an all-women’s prison, begins to pursue relationships within the facility. Season 1 marks the start of Mark and Maggie’s new, open relationship.
We root for Mark and Maggie’s happiness, even if it unravels the traditional bond that they have made together. We begin to understand that their bond does not lessen with the introduction of other romantic partners into their lives.
The conversation between them is grave and a bit out of place for a show that has marketed itself as a workplace comedy. But it works and brings out complex emotions in viewers like me.
I was also impressed by the budding relationship between Angela (played by Tawny Newsome) and Dr. Chan (played by Jimmy O. Yang). In Season 1, Angela, a former helicopter pilot-turned-astronaut captain, forms a bond with Dr. Chan, a lead assistant on the mission.
Their bond exists almost exclusively through a screen. That screen is ginormous, almost like the ones in movie theaters. And they seldom get time alone. Dr. Chan has the ability to patch Angela through to his screen—but because the astronauts are on a mission, all the other scientists and mission organizers can hear the conversations between him and Angela.
This storyline is a testament to any modern relationship that starts on a matchmaking dating site, like iris. Users meet each other and form bonds through screens before determining whether it’s worth it to meet in person.
They share snippets of their lives, allowing each other to understand them a bit better through sudden glances and inside jokes.
Viewers aren’t sure where either relationship is going, and Netflix has yet to unveil a season 2 drop date. But this viewer is hoping for a good, old-fashioned love story that includes the funny day-to-day of any relationship. I'm itching to see how far Dr. Chan and Angela will go to strengthen their virtual relationship. I also hope that Mark and Maggie don’t lose the love and emotional bond they hold between them.