enemyofperfect: a spray of orange leaves against a muted background (Default)
[personal profile] enemyofperfect
So I feel like I've seen Killjoys described in a couple of different places as Firefly fanfic with the serial numbers filed off, but what I didn't realize until I watched it is how amazing a fix-it it is?

For starters, instead of the weird revisionist fantasy of heroic Confederates in space, we have a system dominated by the evil and monolithic Company and the third-party enforcers -- the eponymous Killjoys -- that it outsources its dirty work to. As allegories go, I will take the crimes of unfettered capitalism over the tragic nobility of the slave-owning side of the U.S. Civil war every time!

For seconds, instead of a renegade white dude hero Who Plays By His Own RulesTM, we have Dutch.

Dutch, who is neither white nor a dude.

Low-key spoilers and more headshots follow, along with possibly more grumbling about Firefly than is actually wise:

I hope you won't mind if I spoil you for the frankly regrettable fake-out the series opens with by saying that Dutch is the boss. She is the owner of the ship, and she is the one who calls the shots. She is also sharp, funny, one of the best Killjoys out there, agonizingly loyal, and possessed of a tragic backstory that drives the arc of the first season.

Who else is there you should know about? Well, there's her junior partner Johnny, who you can see here on the left:

The Jaqobis brothers, available in scruffy-faced and chiseled-bone-structure varieties!


John's specialties include tech, snark, worrying about everyone he knows, snarky tech, and secretly trying to take care of everyone's feelings. And then on the right we have his older brother D'avin, who has just enough of a tragic backstory to realize that Dutch is so much more hardcore than he could ever be, and who specializes in more snark, angst, and being a good soldier.

(Not shown is Lucy, the usually even-tempered ship AI who is Johnny's companion in sarcasm when everyone else gives up and goes to bed.)

For a third round -- and for those of you who noticed that John and D'avin kind of inflate the show's white guy count -- instead of some really sadly mangled swearing in Mandarin and nobody Asian in sight, on Killjoys we have... actual Korean- and Vietnamese-Canadian actors onscreen!

Fancy rocking a beard and a ponytail, and Seyah having just noticed that she likes what she sees.


Specifically, in recurring roles, we have Fancy Lee, a fellow Killjoy who's all but crying out to become a grumpy fan favorite, and Delle Seyah Kendry, a de facto noblewoman and hereditary part-owner of the Company who hateflirts with Dutch constantly.

Fourthly, there's Pree, the local bartender, who once offered to hire D'avin to do sex work upstairs.

It's not his fault that D'avin turned him down.


Fifthly: THIS SHOW DOES NOT HATE SEX WORKERS, OH MY GOSH.

I'm sorry, I'm sorry -- that's just something I had to get off my chest. See, whereas everybody else watched Firefly when it first aired and fell in love with its quirky, aired-out-of-order, endearingly star-crossed self, that's a bandwagon I didn't catch up to until almost a decade and a ton of hype later, and when I did... let's say that I was less than thrilled with Mal's attitude towards Inara, and the degree to which the show seemed willing to forgive him for it.

But on Killjoys? Sex work is just work -- it's something you do to pay the bills. You might even be married! And you might even be friends with your some of your clients. Because ultimately, it doesn't define you or your relationships -- it's just how you happen to earn a living.

This is only really touched on in one episode, and it's all addressed basically in passing -- it's precisely by not making it a huge thing that the show makes all of this clear. But oh my gosh, after the slow ongoing trainwreck of misogyny and boundary violations that was Mal with Inara, it was balm for my SOUL.

Sixthly, oh my gosh, my found family feels! And birth family feels, for that matter -- and even sexual/romantic tension feels, because this show is pretty good at those as well, which is my fig leaf for including this in a post ostensibly comparing Killjoys to Firefly because Firefly was the worst at romance I'm sorry it's just true.

But my found family feels are what I'm going to talk about right now, okay, because WOW, DO I EVER HAVE THEM.

Dutch and Johnny are siblings. They just are. They've lived and worked together for six years, and he is the little brother she can and will put her life on the line to protect -- and she's the big sister he will also give his life to protect, because loyalty is a thing on this show. But seriously, I just.

They're so amazing. They would probably rather projectile vomit in tandem than ever contemplate having sex with each other, and they are just so, so, so committed to each other, it's absolutely beautiful. They argue and tease, they make sacrifices for each other, they endlessly believe in each other, and when one of them can't sleep, they go and see if the other one's still up, too.

They're kind of a little bit perfect.

Seventhly, this show is by Lost Girl creator Michelle Lovretta and not by Joss Whedon, and that is both its weakness and its strength.

Its weakness, because this show's plots are only a little more solidly constructed than the joyful nonsense of Lost Girl, and its banter is probably not quite as good.

And its strength, because Lost Girl, at least as of when I sort of accidentally fell out of watching it a couple of seasons in, was a show built on a solid bedrock of character relationships and rolling its eyes at the kyriarchy, and had... kind of a better track record with its female characters than I gather Whedon sometimes has.

Which is not to say that Killjoys is an unparalleled feminist dream -- it's not: male characters outnumber female characters by about two to one, and for a show that genuinely seems to love the female characters it has, I sure wish it could throw around sexist slurs a little less.

But when I love it, I really, really do love it.

So I figured I'd let you know while we're still in doubt about whether there'll be a second season.

(Come on, suffering builds fannish character! You know it to be true!)

Date: 2015-09-25 08:13 pm (UTC)
schneefink: River walking among trees, from "Safe" (Default)
From: [personal profile] schneefink
Here via [personal profile] selenak. I completely agree with your Killjoys & Firefly comparison. Only visually I liked Firefly better (from what I can remember, it's been years since I watched it), it had more color and fewer lense flares. Killjoys is much better than Firefly at using or even mentioning politics, and I really like that. Plus, Dutch & Johnny!

Date: 2015-09-26 02:02 am (UTC)
ide_cyan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ide_cyan
There is going to be a second season. They announced it a couple of weeks back.

Date: 2015-09-26 02:23 am (UTC)
st_aurafina: Rainbow DNA (Default)
From: [personal profile] st_aurafina
Here via [personal profile] coffeeandink - eeee, this show! I love it so much, and you have picked out some of my favourite things. Johnny and Dutch, best brother/sister relationship ever, and that scene at the end of 1.08 (which I've just gotten up to) when they're in bed together reading comics and shoving each other is just the best.

Fancy Lee! I just have the feeling that everyone gets stuck on a mission with him at one stage of their career.

This is a great post, thank you.

Date: 2015-09-26 10:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] abigail_n.livejournal.com
Here via [personal profile] coffeeandink. I definitely took Killjoys as an attempt to rework Firely in a very fanfic-ish mode - the emotional tone and some of the plot points are clearly drawn from fanfic (episode 7, for example, is hurt-comfort par excellence). What I found amusing was that the show's timeslot partner, Dark Matter, is also quite blatantly riffing off Firefly (both shows even have an episode in which our heroes discover a derelict overrun with space zombies, which is of course a retelling of "Bushwhacked," and Dark Matter even has its own version of "Our Mrs. Reynolds," though unfortunately not as good). What was interesting was the completely different tones the two shows take to their material. Dark Matter isn't as emotionally fraught as Killjoys (whether you think that's a good thing depends on you, obviously), but it's also a lot less interesting politically, and its worldbuilding is often pathetically vague and naive.

One thing you didn't mention is that Dutch reads very much like a grown-up River (this is true of the heroine of Dark Matter too, though she's less prominent in that show's story, which is more an ensemble piece). That really works for me given how infantilized River is even in her moments of triumph (embracing her power and defeating the Reavers is all about saving Simon, while Mal makes the moral choice to expose the Alliance), but it also draws attention to how few relationships between women there are on the show. Dutch's most important relationships are with three (white) men, and even her mentor as a bounty hunter was one. The show pays lip service to the idea that she has a bond with Bella, but we don't see much of that (or of Bella herself) on screen, and her growing frenemy-ship/flirtation with Delle Seyah, though obviously fun, isn't quite what I'm looking for (hell, even her relationship with Lucy is semi-adverserial and founded on the premise that Lucy likes John more). That's something I'm really hoping the second season will address.

Date: 2015-09-27 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] abigail_n.livejournal.com
I'm not sure if I would recommend Dark Matter (except as an interesting contrast to Killjoys). It does have good qualities - per our discussion above, one of its central relationships is between the two women in its main cast (plus there's a female-presenting android who develops a quasi-friendship with one of these women), it has really great fight scenes, and it seems genuinely interested in the question of whether its characters can change and get away from the violence of their pasts (and whether that's possible within the system they're stuck in). But as you said in response to my other comment, it definitely has the problem of half-assing its worldbuilding and failing to think through its implications, which Killjoys doesn't do. Plus, there's a very good chance that the male lead whom I (and a lot of other people I saw commenting on the show) read as whiny and entitled was meant to come off as heroic and principled, so a lot will depend on how the show continues his story.

(Also: thanks! That's really nice to hear.)

Date: 2016-07-25 04:35 pm (UTC)
endeni: (Default)
From: [personal profile] endeni
Aw, that's such a great review! I always thought the show was a little bit like Firefly in the setting but I never stopped to think about the ways it actually managed to fix many of Firefly's problematic issues. <3

Date: 2016-07-26 07:27 am (UTC)
endeni: (Default)
From: [personal profile] endeni
Eheh, of course I don't mind, dear. <3 And, yes, the crew's loyalty to Mal was one of the main point of contention I had with the show. Now Dutch, that's someone I'd follow along blindly because I'd know once I'd be part of her crew she'd do anything for me back. Mal on the other hand would save you from a tight spot too, but he' do so mostly against his better judgment. Not really confidence or loyalty-inspiring... *shakes head*

Date: 2016-07-26 07:50 am (UTC)
endeni: (Default)
From: [personal profile] endeni
Yes, I'm fond of Mal too but there's just no contest. ;)

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