The definition of science fiction has always been a heated debate from literary critics to pre-schoolers. Mark C. Glassy is known for saying, “Science fiction is like pornography. You don’t know what it is, but you know it when you see it.”
However, I can’t help but believe that there is various forms of media that, if you think about it, can possibly qualify as science fiction even if you don’t know it at first.
I guess that it can also be true for porn, but I still wish to believe that Nymphs Anonymous is a feminist critique of society’s fear of the powerful being emasculated.
You may not think the following examples qualify as science fiction, especially due to the way they’re categorized on our various streaming and entertainment listings. However, if you take a look at past trends in the genre, these television shows can qualify to be, at least , “sort of kind of”, science fiction.
In addition to being an obvious fantasy for prisoners, this series that lasted 4 seasons can also whet the appetites of architects and engineers. Why do I think this series sort of kind of qualifies as science fiction? To quote my tipsy self from a party last year, “because that main dude uses pulleys and levers and stuff to get out of jail. That’s science. Okay, let’s get waffles.”
Our main protagonist Michael Scofield does take advantage of Newton’s Law of Motion quite a bit in the series to concoct contraptions or create a weird chemical reaction to aid in his escape. At times, Michael acts as the Ms. Frizzle of prison escapees, showing that science can be fun and rewarding, especially when it helps you break out of prison.
While on the surface, Prison Break provides commentary on the US justice system, it can also comment that no institution can shackle the natural order of the universe, especially as more living beings have an awareness and rely on technological innovation.
Muppet Babies is not just a kid’s show. It is an insane and trippy ride where you jump realities from the TV world to our world and then to the past or to the future. It even pre-dates Lost with a flash-sideways into an alternate universe.
When the Muppet Babies “close their eyes and make believe” they have the capabilities of travel similar to the way Billy Pilgrim does in Slaughterhouse-Five. The Muppet Babies have the cognitive abilities to understand different dimensions in a way no human is capable of comprehending.
In “Out of This World History”, Gonzo chooses a trip to Planet X as his favorite moment in history. Sure, this is supposed to be funny moment, but when the episode concludes the viewer is left thinking that maybe Gonzo’s trip to Planet X actually already happened… in the future. Some may call Gonzo a weirdo, but I believe, like the aliens of Tralfamadore, Gonzo has the capability of seeing time as the fourth dimension.
Thanks to Breaking Bad, everyone and their mother can now cook crystal meth. (By the way, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!)
I believe that the type of meth Walter develops parallels scientific and technological innovation in most examples of science fiction. Walter White uses his knowledge as a chemist to manufacture a product that results in a type of political unrest, lust for power, greed, violence and the establishment of a suppressive hierarchy that gets overthrown leading to chaos. Meth is the Skynet of Breaking Bad. Alternatively, meth is a prehistoric mosquito preserved in amber. Or it can be whatever that magic is that Jeffrey Combs uses in The Re-animator.
Furthermore, similar to Prison Break, Walter White’s knowledge of science propels the plot forward, especially when it comes to (spoiler alert?) body disposal or destroying police evidence with a giant magnet.
Like defining science fiction itself, the genre of these television shows can be difficult to define, as well (especially Muppet Babies. Watch it as an adult. It will blow your mind.) All of these shows, amongst other examples not listed, include elements of humor, action, drama, gore and fantasy.
In the opening chapter of Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction, David Seed writes that science fiction “embodies thought experiment whereby aspects of our familiar reality are transformed or suspended.” For the science fiction fan, these television shows ask us to suspend our disbelief to a reality beyond what we would expect from a specific genre, making them “sort of kind of” examples of science fiction.
What other examples are out there that “sort of kind of” qualify as science fiction?