Netflix’s Space Force Review: Smart Satire or Goofy Entertainer?

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Space Force is a 2020 comedy series created by the people behind The Office, Steve Carell and Greg Daniels. It stars Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers and Tawny Newsome.

Now, I haven’t watched The Office (please don’t come at me). After Space Force launched, there was a lot of comparison between it and The Office that I really don’t understand. it is made by the same creators from The Office and apparently has similar themes. But, having said that, Space Force is definitely a mixed bag. And I’ll tell you why.

The launch

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Space Force starts off with the creation of a space-focused unit, named Space Force, and General Mark Naird is selected for heading it. The sole motto of the unit is to “put boots on the moon.” However, one year later, that dream hasn’t been realised yet, and Naird and his chief scientist, Dr. Adrian Mallory are racking their brains to find success. Things get complicated in the form of their animosity with China, who are also sending their own missions to the moon.

 We also have a parallel storyline, with Naird’s personal life. His wife is now in prison, we don’t know why. And his teenage daughter, Erin, is having an angsty teenage moment.

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The first couple of episodes of the series was fun and entertaining. But after that, Space Force started to suffer from its own vices.

This is where I shine

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I’ll talk about the good parts first.

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Now, first and foremost. I enjoyed Space Force. It has its moments where there’s a slump for long stretches of time, without any laughs. But for the most part, it kept me entertained. Naird and Mallory are excellent and always come in to save a scene when it gets boring. Their chemistry and banter are probably one of the best parts of Space Force.

The bigger picture that Space Force probably tried to show is probably that people are capable of terrible and mean things regardless of which position of power they hold. So, when the ones on top order Naird to destroy the Chinese base, risking a world war, it goes on to show that people in power don’t really care about the hardships of war and its impacts on the common people. It would rather have their egos satisfied than save lives.

There are also a lot of characters who are thinly-veiled clones of real-life people. That was definitely Space Force’s one of many nice touches. You can hear that the president, who is never really named, tweets everything and anything and is quite the man-child. There’s also the first lady who is extremely eager to please and thus, becomes the butt of all jokes (quite literally). And we all know who they are referring to here.

There’s also some real good relationship-building in Space Force. Naird and Maggie’s relationship is really nice and gives you all kinds of hope. When she tells him that, just because they are married, they don’t have to use that to cause each other pain – that resonated with me. Also, the fact that Naird is always here for Erin and puts her first, inspite of the whole world on his shoulders – that’s a nice touch.

Proportionate Response

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Not all is great in Space Force though.

That thing I wrote about thinly-veiled clones? About that – Take for example the character of Anabela Ysidro-Campos, a parody of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. However, Anabela is surprisingly mean-spirited and also a bit illogical just for the sake of it? I didn’t get why that change was necessary? AOC isn’t illogical.

Also, there are a few very annoying characters in Space Force who probably have too much of screen time. Erin and F. Tony are two of the most annoying people I have seen on screen. Erin’s constant tantrums are something us brown kids are unfamiliar with. But even without the casual threats of violence that are a part of our households, do you have to be a pain in the butt 24×7 to your father? And, F. Tony is another ball game altogether. He’s loud and most of the time unfunny. Why does the social media guy have so much say in a government facility? If the goal was for him to draw many laughs, it was a total failure. Most of the time I just wanted him to stop talking.

There were also some unnecessary sub-plots that were probably not needed. Like, Naird dating Kelly. Why is that necessary?

If I’m in trouble, you’re in trouble

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I just want to quickly talk about Naird and Mallory’s relationship. I think, as stated earlier, it was one of the best parts of Space Force. Their friendship started off on rocky terrain, as such things usually do. However, as the episodes progressed, they both found a middle ground where they could agree on. And from there, their relationship progressed to such a point that, both of them were there for each other at the most crucial times. Example – the budget hearing in Capitol Hill. We want friendships like that.

So is another friendship – between Captain Ali and Dr. Chan. Or maybe was there something more? It wasn’t really specified, but whatever it was, it was nice.

Space Flag

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So was Space Force able to seal its fate on Netflix’s soil? Honestly, the problem with Space Force is that it doesn’t know whether it’s a political satire or just another goofy, mindless entertainer. In one hand, we have them talking about the Indian Prime Minister having spies in the US, while on the other hand, Naird is directing a chimpanzee to fix the Epsilon 6! I can’t take you seriously when you do this!

In a world where real-life is most of the times stranger than fiction, it is probably a tough place to create humour that you haven’t come across. However, Space Force did make me laugh, and that’s something that usually doesn’t happen. So, I’ll give it that.

Space Force is streaming on Netflix right now.

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Archi Sengupta
Horror Movies + Cats > People

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