Science fiction is often used as a mirror to society, showing us our flaws and our fear of what the future might look like if we make errors; it is a warning about what might be if we keep going down dangerous paths.
While the cautionary tale is an important subset of sci-fi, the genre does not have to be only about our fear. It does not always have to show us what could go wrong. It could be used to show our hopes or our plans, to show what we could be if we tried, and to show us what it could look like if things go right.
Our society needs more positivity when looking at our future. Being surrounded only by negativity can be discouraging, and it can make people feel like there is nothing they can do to change their circumstances.
As fun and fascinating – and even useful – as dark future sci-fi shows such “Black Mirror” (2011) are as commentary on modern society, in a time of uncertainty and fear having shows that show us hope for our future are more important than ever.
Sometimes fear of failure does not inspire success, it destroys hope. But having something to aspire to gives inspiration to be better and do better.
“Doctor Who,” a popular British sci-fi series with more than 50 years of history, shows its main protagonist, an alien called the Doctor, and his undying faith in the goodness of the human spirit, which inspires him to save us time and time again.
“Star Trek” shows the endless curiosity of humanity that sometimes gets us in trouble but, ultimately, it is humanity’s eagerness to learn and our willingness to help others that brings us together as a species and, in the show, draws other species toward humanity.
A newer optimistic show that lovingly takes after “Star Trek” but is quickly developing into its own is Seth McFarland’s comedic show “The Orville” (2017). It is what I like to call “informal Star Trek.”
The characters are more flawed and less mature than the characters on “Star Trek,” but it replicates the optimistic feeling it shares with the show from which it was inspired.
The “optimistic future” shows such as “Star Trek,” “Doctor Who” and “The Orville” are still able to address important political and social issues, as well as moral dilemmas, while maintaining a positive outlook on the future and a faith in the goodness of humanity. We need more shows that inspire hope and fewer shows that shatter it.