Queer Eye For The SciFi


If you’re white, straight and male you’ve probably never stopped to think about diversity in genre entertainment; but if you don’t fit into that very specific box it can be a very important subject indeed. Peter MacKenzie examines representation and depiction of alternative cultures in geek entertainment, highlighting when it goes right and explaining why it’s a problem when it goes wrong…


I think my feelings regarding American TV executives, especially those who cruelly cancel shows on cliffhangers, are well documented.

Some may think I’m a bit harsh, that I don’t understand the ways of commercial TV, that I’m too ingrained in the UK way of shorter (hence cheaper) seasons and BBC funding where advertising revenue doesn’t come into the equation.

In the same way that, as a Brit, I don’t tip poor or merely adequate service – the sort of attitude that would get me lynched in the States – it’s a culture thing and I should just bite my tongue.

I suppose at least, in America, you’re not subjected to an entire season of crap, just because you’ve already paid for it. Wouldn’t the world be a better place without Demons? Or Krød Mändoon..?

However, the sort of “who cares what the viewers want” attitude is starting to present itself on this side of the pond and, in the same way that I’m not 100% comfortable with sharing my name, date of birth and penis measurements with my barista as we now seem to be expected to do, I’m beginning to feel a little uneasy about the future of British television.

You see, what our TV stations over here are doing is getting you hooked on a programme and then dropping it while there are still episodes and even entire seasons still to show.

In some ways, you could argue that what British commercial stations seem to be doing is worse. At least in the States, you know that, short of a Serenity style continuation, there’s nothing more to see here. Move along.

Annoying though their cancellations were, I’ve learned to live with the fact that V’s newly-introduced, government-sanctioned task force will never fight back, and that Stargate: Universe’s Destiny’s, er, destiny will only ever live on in my imagination. An imagination where they traverse a wormhole back towards earth and obliterate the headquarters of Syfy with a budget-busting orbital bombardment sequence.

Hey, it’s only been a year – I said I’d learned to live with it, not forget about it.

But what Sky have done with Chuck in the UK is just unforgivable.

It must be said that Chuck has had a bit of a rough ride on both sides of the Atlantic at the best of times. In America the show was never not under threat of cancellation.

And in Britain, the channel which picked it up, Virgin 1, went through a rather chequered history itself, with at least two rebrandings, including becoming the extremely short-lived Channel One, and finally dumping most of its schedule on Bravo, down the pan or, in Chuck’s case, onto Living, which then itself became Sky Living. Confused? So was everyone else, who wondered who the hell thought Chuck made good bedfellows with the likes of Four Weddings, Most Haunted and Steps: The Reunion in the first place.

But what of Chuck now?

The fifth – and final – season has ended in the States, but repeated checks of the Sky Living schedule reveal nothing. Trawling the internet just reveals a lot of frustrated Chuck fans posting correspondence from Sky Living saying that, while they appreciate that the show has fans, they didn’t quite feel that the show made good bedfellows with the likes of Four Weddings, Most Haunted and Steps: The Reunion.

No shit, Sherlock.

So the British fans – who were just as vocal in crying for the continuation of the series as our Subway-guzzling American friends – are left with few options, most of which are, whatever your moral viewpoint, illegal.

Of course, I’m sure that the DVDs will be out at some point but, as well as the frustrating wait for whenever that’ll be (and trust me, a UK release date is not on the horizon), it means forking out money for them. And frankly, in the current economic climate, I’m more inclined to put that money towards really frivolous things like milk and bread. And Coco Pops.

Not to mention the fact that it just gets more and more difficult to avoid the spoilers.

It’s hugely annoying, but it doesn’t take much to find more examples of it happening. Breaking Bad is a particularly infamous example (from FX-UK in this instance) and season four of The Clone Wars was worryingly conspicuous by its absence from Sky Movies.

Fortunately, the latter has now got an airdate in April on Cartoon Network which is normally its second run home, but the fact Sky dropped its first run rights for no discernible reason just shows the slippery slope we could be heading down.

Because if they’re not careful, British commercial television could be in for a whole “torrent” of abuse.

Oh yes I did.


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