Intergalactic Politics, Casual Queerness: The CW’s Pandora

The opening scenes of Pandora are pure LA girl thirst trap. And it totally worked. I absolutely had to skip forward to the halfway point after like, five too many world-building situational scenes, but I was into the actual show from then on. I watched 13 episodes in two days, and I very possibly might watch them again.

Pandora gives serious 80s TV show vibes, aesthetically like MacGuyver and even maybe Loveboat. There are spaceships, so many action scenes with badass women in combat, and somehow the futuristic technology doesn’t feel gimmicky. The costumes in Pandora range from Gladiator-style armor to Lara Croft vibes, then chic dresses at cocktail parties. We see flashbacks to Jax in full femme fatale mode, a select group of students have technology built into their bodies, and we also see everyone in the straight jacket-esque official uniform. Then we join a movement to free clones from the cult leader they’re enslaved to so we’re wearing black robes with hoods.

As the episodes go on and more characters are introduced, the tone becomes more and more like those (gloriously) unraveling soapies when everything moves past logic and storyline and you tell your self ‘Okayyyy, I’m gonna stop trying to follow… let’s just go with it.’ It’s a feeling reminiscent of Passions (RIP). And a bit Days of our Lives in the way-too-frequent ‘Hello, Daughter.’ ‘Uncle!’ “Nice to see you, Wife.’ greetings, as if such bonds of society even matter in the universe-jumping intergalactic political and familial hurricane that is Pandora.

Radical politics: And yes, it totally IS political. Radical in its politics, actually. It reminds me of those tweets you see of people watching Space Jam or Rugrats episodes being like, ‘Wow they’re fully unionizing here, I did not notice this as a kid!’ I’m going to write a full post on the politics portrayed in Pandora: Clone-human rights, a clone worker’s strike, interplanetary diplomats, male slaves in a matriarchal society, military weapons procurement, and biological research on soldiers abandoned in space. There is political and social commentary deeply intertwined with this show, and it. is. Glorious.

Pandora has somehow taken some of the trauma and violence from guns on screen, giving the show an overall less violent feel, despite the many, many guns present in scenes. The guns are all lazers, and they literally go ‘pew-pew’! It;s presented so seamlessly that took me a good few episodes to realize that’s what is happening, and oh mannn the catharsis of hearing the pew-pew every time instead of the harsh, guttural bang of a bullet! Golden. It’s almost relaxing, even therapeutic, to hear lasers when the trigger is pulled. And! When fired at a person, instead of the thunderous shower of bullets tearing into skin, we see a gentle spread of fireworks burrowing into their target’s skin that just… calmly attacks them. It truly feels groundbreaking.

There’s some good racial diversity, but it could definitely be better: The token black guy’s dad is, of course, [insert eyeroll] in jail. When he shows up on campus, he’s a total showman and a trickster, dragging his son into his schemes. Pandora kills off a DOPE Asian-Australian character and love-interest of Jax early on, purely to free up space to build on an attraction between her and the TA-trying-to-give-us-a-Four/Tris-vibe-but-definitely-failing. And it’s just very.. okay cool, kill him off so she can be with the white guy, coolcoolcool. (It seems like fans raged while it aired though, because he makes a surprise comeback in the last scene of the last episode. So obviously I am dyingggg for S2.)

Later in the season, they very-almost did it again, leading us to believe the black character, Thomas, was dead for like two episodes, but they redeem themselves with a major leap in his energy that makes him literally the most powerful superhero badass talent in the show. There’s also an awesome character played by a British actress of Punjabi heritage who is connected to the data-stream and a total brilliant mind. She has a really heartfelt character-growth arc that is triggered by a cyber-bullying attack on an entirely new and invasive level. There’s some really excellent, layered storytelling in this show.

Queer rep and sex-positive vibes: I haven’t watched a CW show in ages, the most recent being a brief jump into Katy Keene, which lead me to believe the network is like, four steps behind the rest of the world in terms of rep and worldview, but when watching Pandora… I was wildly impressed.

They bi-baited us with a casual ‘Yes, Jax dated my sister for a while, but you knew that’ in episode one, and then they truly came THRU later in the season with an entire arc and full episode dedicated to a ‘Get Jax to seduce her ex-girlfriend so we can steal an artifact’ situation! There is absolutely no weirdness or judgmental vibes about their sexuality at all. Another central character, Atria, is totally pan and casual about it. We witness her various sexual partners coming (ha!) and going from her room. Her potential love-interest, Thomas, has a problem with it but mostly because she isn’t into monogamy, and that’s a whole story in itself. Dope data-stream girl, Delaney, is also very casual about her many options for a date to the annual ball, listing girls’ names among the people she’s considering. We love progress!

Allow yourself to be thirst-trapped into this show, go along for the ride, just enjoy! I 10/10 recommend Pandora for a good time.

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