I watched Farscape a long time ago. It was one of my favorite sci-fi series, possibly because I didn’t have a lot of them to watch when I was younger, possibly because Chiana was the cutest grey alien I’d ever seen. Either way…
Gregg turned it on today and started watching the first episode while I was writing and I was struck by something I hadn’t noticed before, a theme that weaves itself through the entire series and I never really noticed it; Nature vs Nurture.
It’s most prevalent in the character of Aeryn Sun. When she is charged with alien contamination she is sentenced to death and must either submit to her breeding, to the life that she has always known, or run. Choose a new life. Find a new way of being.
Her entire character arc revolves around the examination of nature verses nurture. Can she be more even though she was bred, raised, and brainwashed to be a specific thing? On top of that the people around her, including other Peacekeepers, are influenced by her actions to break from the Peacekeeper mold and become something more, something new. I suppose you could say that the show teaches that one person who steps outside of the norm can make a difference. Sometimes a huge difference.
The whole story revolves around John Crichton and his search to get home, and his adaptation to the new world. At least it seems to be. Looking back on all the episodes it seems the main story was really about Aeryn Sun, and how John Crichton changed her life, and set her up to change so many other lives. The other characters have their own arcs, as does Crichton, but over it all there is Aryen Sun. The person who seems to be the secondary lead, and yet her entire story and characterization is driving the plot forward more than anyone else’s.
I’d have to re-watch the entire series to see if that holds up throughout, but my educated guess, based on watched the entire series a few years ago, is that I would find even more plot points that revolve and change because of her. It’s a brilliant use of characterization that you don’t even really notice as that at first. All of the other characters, even Crichton at times, are mere window dressing. But Sun matters.
I suppose that is a lesson to me, as well. Make my characters, even the minor one, matter to the story. See how they change the plot, change the direction of the other characters around them, and that will make the story better, fuller, and more complex.
As for the nature verses nurture part, by the end of the series Sun has definitely become something entirely different. She changes far more than anyone else, and chooses nurture of herself over nature she was born with. Crichton, and the others on the ship, encourage that growth, but much of it comes from within herself. And I think that is also attainable in the real world. If we choose ourselves, instead of choosing the culture we come from, or the family we were born to, we can rise above all of that and become something better. Something more. It’s not always easy, and those around you might fight against it (like Crais trying to stop Sun at every turn) but it can be done.
Have any of you watched Farescape? What did you think about it?
I really like Farscape. It’s got all the hijinks and explosions of a Hollywood-style show, but has an underlying thoughtfulness and nuance.
Exactly. I think it’s the blending of Star Treks commentary on society with the glitz and glam of Star Wars.
Interesting perspective, Crissy. Like you, I watched Farscape when it was released. Like you, I thought the show revolved around John Crichton. Thinking back on it, I am sure you are right, it was Aeryn Sun’s growth all the way. This inspires me to look at the characters in my series to see who is undergoing growth. Thanks!
Yep, Crichton goes through some change on his journey, but almost all of the change he does go through revolves around Sun (though some of it revolves around Scorpious during the later part of the series.) But of course the cameras, and the story line follows Crichton all the time, so you think he’s the main focus of the story until you really start thinking about it.
I’m taking a better look at my characters too because of this. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have the main focus of the plot not be the main focus of the storyline, but it’s good to know what you’re doing when you write it.