Look, look - the wonderful chaila of underline everything has agreed to return to Lady Business!
chaila's fan-vids, commentary and just down right, over flowing love were the driving influence behind Jodie's rapid consumption of the first series of "The Sarah Connor Chronicles", so we're excited to host a new post by her about this very cool, ruthlessly cancelled program. Come with us if you want to live...or at least have an interest in seeing ladies and robots and lady-robots shape the future.
On a purely descriptive level, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
sounds a lot like a standard part of a sci-fi action movie franchise: Sarah Connor, her son John, and their allies attempt to prevent Skynet, a computer network that destroys the world in the future, from being created. Time travel exists, fighters come back from the future to help them, robots come from the future to hunt them, and sometimes things blow up. But TSCC
spins off from its action movie franchise roots to tell a deeply human story that interrogates the basis of all "hero myth" type stories. What I want to focus on in this post are these deconstructive elements, the way TSCC
explicitly and implicitly challenges the themes and tropes common in similar stories about "one chosen hero destined to save the world."
One way TSCC
does this is by focusing on the surrounding characters, particularly on Sarah, which changes the entire shape of the story. Once the narrative is established as Sarah’s, the show introduces, or increases focus on, several regular characters in season two who in some way question or challenge the dominant myth: Jesse Flores, Riley Dawson, James Ellison, and Catherine Weaver. All of these characters have different viewpoints and beliefs about John and Sarah and about the future. This group of characters, who are not on Team Connor, add so many layers of depth and complexity to the show, and elevate it from a pretty good show about soldiers and family preparing for a future robot apocalypse, to a truly compelling, complex, graceful piece of television that deals with war, loss, robots, the preservation of what makes us human, and how who and what gets written in the book of myth is only a fraction of the story.
To keep this to a manageable word count (haha), I’m going to break it down by the characters I think engage with these ideas the most: the five (FIVE) major female characters in season 2--Sarah, Cameron, Jesse, Riley, and Weaver--and James Ellison. These characters question the recorded history of the future (which is a phrase that makes sense only in a show about time travel), and provide different perspectives on the present and the different options for preventing or fighting the coming war.Note that this post covers the series as a whole, with spoilers!( Did I mention the FIVE major female characters and James Ellison? )
I will now end this unforgivably long post with two general observations about why TSCC
is among my favorite shows ever. First, as I hope is now apparent, TSCC
is one of the most female-driven shows I’ve seen, with multiple amazing complex women driving and determining the course of the story. Second, I’d argue that TSCC
on a meta level can be read as one giant deconstruction of myth, a meditation on the way that myths or cultural stories function in our lives, particularly in war or times of conflict, how they get built and used and how they differ from historical truth, particularly how they ignore the messy and inconvenient parts that make the story richer and more complicated and more beautiful. TSCC
puts all these parts back in, and it elevates the story to something else entirely. The show doesn’t have to be read this way; it can also be watched and enjoyed more straightforwardly as a show about humans fighting against and cooperating with machines, with multiple amazing, complex women. Either way, it’s pretty awesome.Other Links The Sarah Connor Chronicles - Series One
by JodieEpisode recaps and discussions
at sccchronicles_tv Observations about performance and camouflage, femininity and domesticity
, among other things, in season one by sanguinity
Vid: there’s a war going on for your mind, sarah