Netflixing: Futurama

This post was originally published at my account on Steemit.com.

 

How could I possibly introduce a show so celebrated, so well beloved? Chances are, you’ve already seen it. If you haven’t, then you now have the perfect opportunity to start.

This is Futurama.

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The History

In the late 1990s, Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) had achieved monumental success and was ready to try his hand at something new. Working together with David X. Cohen, he created an animated sitcom that was something of a love letter to the entire Sci-Fi genre, that would play off all the well trodden ideas of how the future would look, how space travel would shape human society, and how technology would change the world forever.

Granted, it would get canceled more than once, and it didn’t find a lot of appreciation among mainstream audiences. It was always dying, but never quite dead. And, even now, people are calling for its resurrection. The fandom that sprang from it is one of the most dedicated in the world. A brain trust of writers, a talented cast, and the love of nerds everywhere all came together to make this show.

The result was something just a little bit miraculous.

The Premise

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In the year 3000, every imaginable trope and plot device from all your favorite Sci-Fi stories have all come true.

And now the world has to live with it.

Yes, for the people of Earth, the amazing has now become mundane as people live and work with aliens, robots, sewer mutants, space-time anomalies, alternate universes, reanimated dinosaurs, and every technological miracle imaginable. Sure, the world’s constantly in peril and you’re living in a dystopia and the laws of reality are always being redefined, but your 9-to-5 job still awaits, so get to it, you lazy bum!

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The plot often revolves around Phillip J. Fry, a lovable slacker who was born in the 20th century but, due to a snafu in a cryogenics laboratory, woke up one morning in the year 2999, on New Year’s Eve.

Acting as a stand-in for the audience, Fry gets to experience the wonders of the future in the same way that any of us would. His attempts to understand how the world works form the basis of the early episodes. After a while, he becomes acclimatized to this strange new world, taking much of the focus off of him. Which is a good thing, because the best part of Futuramais the always-eclectic ensemble cast.

Speaking of which…

The Characters

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Futurama has some of the best characters ever put into a TV show. Not a single one is wasted, and every one is blessed with their own storylines, their own jokes and special brand of humor, and their own growth arcs that span the entire length of the series.

Anyone who’s ever watched the show has their favorite. You may be a fan of Bender, the wisecracking, safe cracking, crack-dealing robot who is a ne’er-do-well on so many levels.

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Or you may be a Professor Farnsworth fanatic, left rolling in the ailes by his hilarious brand of mad science and old-man crotchedyness.

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If you don’t already have a favorite character on the show, then I only have one question for you:

Why not Zoidberg?

Did I mention that this show has created more memes than perhaps anything else in history?

Whenever Futurama isn’t making you laugh, it will make you think. In the same vein as all great Sci-Fi, this show often delves into the philosophical, and is not afraid to ask tough questions and tackle imposing issues. Can a robot have free will? What part of the universe does God call home? If all your loved ones have been dead for 1000 years, how do you cope? And what would happen if, through some accident of time travel, you became your own grandfather?

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Because Futurama totally goes there.

And Prepare to Cry

Because this show will make you cry. For all the slapstick and mayhem Futurama gives us, it is more than an episodic comedy. As I mentioned above, all the characters get their own arcs and moments of growth, and the story builds, builds, BUILDS as the series keeps going.

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You didn’t forget this episode, did you?
 

Much of these tender moments center around Fry (though Leela, and even Bender, get their own tearjerker episodes).

And that’s the brilliance of Futurama: it uses humor and wonder to make you care about these characters, then breaks them to pieces in front of you. I don’t know if any other TV show has elicited as many, or as powerful, emotions as this one has.

To borrow yet another Futurama meme:

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Start Watching Today

Every episode of Futurama is now on Netflix. Watch it now. Invite friends over. Heck, have a marathon. You will not regret it.

I know I didn’t.