This year I have spent a huge amount of time watching things on Netflix. Normally I’m not much of a watcher of things, although I’ll binge-watch OITNB over a weekend like most people, but this year I’ve been laid up in bed and on the couch a lot of the time, so Netflix and I have been BFFs.
Since I don’t want all this TV watching to go to waste, I am going to give you Twelve Days of Netflix, based on my twelve months of doing little else.
So without further ado, we begin with:
January – Star Trek: Voyager
If you are not a Trekkie, don’t fear. There will be many options coming up for you later. But I kicked off the year with Voyager, because I love it. It was also part of my ongoing goal to watch ALL the Treks, which I have finally done.
Even if you’re not a sci-fi fan (which I’m not generally, but I make an exception for Star Trek because IT IS LIFE), Voyager is the kind of show that may appeal to you anyway.
The premise: Captain Kathryn Janeway and her crew are on a routine mission to find and bring back members of a rebel group, the Maquis. After following the Maquis ship a bit too far, Voyager gets sucked into the Delta Quadrant, a faraway part of the galaxy, and the way home is destroyed in the first episode. The Maquis have been stranded too, and Janeway decides to merge the two crews into one and try to find a way home together. They predict that getting home will take about 75 years, but they hope that along the way they’ll find things that will make the journey quicker.
The main reason I love Voyager is because I find so many of the characters incredibly relatable. The characterisation is about 95% of why I love the show. The storylines are interesting too, but for me they’re very much secondary to the characters – I don’t often particularly care what the characters are doing (unless an episode’s storyline is particularly terrible
cough Threshold cough), as long as I get to see my faves frequently. And Voyager provides a whole lotta faves.
Captain Janeway is my favourite TV character of all time.
addicted to caffeine
and she cares SO MUCH about her crew.
I like that we get to see a lot of her behind-the-scenes thought processes. When the ship first gets stranded in the Delta Quadrant, she talks about how much she wants to get the crew home, and how she feels unsure of how to act around her crew now. Traditionally captains are set apart from the rest of the crew, not forming particularly intense bonds of friendship with them as they need to maintain the chain of command at all times. But Janeway quickly realises that in Voyager’s unprecedented situation, what works most of the time probably won’t work.
She also gets lonely sometimes, and sad, and confused, and doubts herself. She spends an entire double episode locked away in her quarters refusing to come out, because she’s so depressed by the thought that she might never get the crew home.
I love her so much. Can you tell?
First off, a mention of the B’Elanna-Janeway relationship, because I love it. So many of their conversations pass the Bechdel test; they are two immensely intelligent women who just love doing science together.
B’Elanna is half-human, half-Klingon, a race who have faced a lot of discimination due to past wars with humans. She’s deeply uncomfortable with herself and her identity, and often feels different or isolated from other members of the crew.
The writers were pretty bold in creating complex, interesting characters throughout Voyager, and B’Elanna is one of the best examples of this. In Extreme Risk we see her struggle with self-harm
and in other episodes we see her tendency to jump to anger
as well as her relationships with her friends, which are quite similar to my own
In summary, B’Elanna is a hugely relatable character for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider or struggled with self-hatred.
Seven of Nine
From one outsider to another: Seven of Nine is a human whom the Voyager crew unexpectedly encounter in the Delta Quadrant. How did she end up so far from home? As a child, she was kidnapped by the Borg, evil aliens who capture people and modify them with technology until they are no longer individuals but instead hooked up to a hive mind.
This makes an excellent metaphor for cults, and since the one I was brought up in is known by its members as The Org, ex-members tend to find the Borg – and Seven of Nine’s experience within it – extremely relatable. I am no exception.
Captain Janeway rescues Seven from the Borg, removes her implants and gradually helps her to rediscover her human identity. Initially, Seven resists this
but gradually she starts to uncover her individuality, and to bond with other members of the crew
…even if she’s a bit lacking in the social graces.
Of course, you don’t leave a cult – ahem, sorry, evil space alien collective – without some pretty significant effects, which are shown throughout the series but particularly come to the fore in The Raven, an episode in which Seven of Nine deals with the trauma she experienced.
Seven has my favourite one-liner in the entire show (“Pay attention to the vegetable”, if you’re interested, although it doesn’t make sense out of context) and is quite a consistent one-liner queen, especially when it comes to dealing with pesky men.
Yet another strong, complex, interesting, highly relatable woman.
Poor Tuvok. He’s a Vulcan stuck on a starship full of emotional humans.
Vulcans don’t do emotions, you see. They have them, but they deliberately repress them using various techniques built up over centuries. Tuvok is excellent at his job and is obviously fond of Janeway, but severely uncomfortable with a lot of the situations he ends up in on the starship Voyager.
Luckily he’s not the only one who finds the illogical humans exhausting.
If you’re an introverted intellectual type who can’t stand parties and just wants to be left alone with your books, Tuvok is your boo.
The Doctor isn’t actually a person at all – or at least, no one thinks of him that way to begin with. He’s a holographic program, projected via the ship’s computer, and it takes the crew a while to stop being… speciesist? biology-ist? something-ist, anyway… and accept him as a person.
Like Seven (and B’Elanna, and Tuvok… sensing a theme here?), the Doctor starts out completely mystified by a lot of human interaction, but gradually comes to accept and enjoy it. It’s wonderful to watch him exploring his own personality, and even building bits of it.
One of the Doctor’s newfound interests is opera, and like so many of us who start singing as a hobby, he turns into an insufferable diva.
Honorary Mention: Reginald Barclay
When Voyager is first stranded, Starfleet – the overarching organisation devoted to space travel – spends ages searching for it, but after a few years people sadly conclude the crew must be long dead.
Except Reginald Barclay, aka The Original Fangirl.
Barclay spends almost every waking moment trying to work out a way to find and contact Voyager; and when he’s not working on that, he’s spending time in the holodeck (a sort of interactive cinema where you can live as part of the story) pretending to be a member of the crew.
If you have ever fangirled hard about anything, and had that feeling when you finish a series like you’ve lost a tiny piece of your soul, you will love him.
Incidentally, Voyager isn’t Barclay’s only Trek: he gets more air time in The Next Generation, where he spends a lot of time in therapy. This precedes his Voyager obsession, which ends up meaning he needs even more therapy… and thus again, relatable. Just when you think you’re definitely OK, the next thing comes along and you realise you’re still fucked up.
On that cheery note, I will wrap this up. Voyager is brilliant and has the most relatable crew members, like, ever, especially if you’re me.