WHILE THE INSIDE THE FEMALE MIND PODCAST GIVES A PEEK INTO OUR HABITS AND BELIEFS, ITFM IN THE MEDIA IS A PLATFORM FOR WOMEN TO EXPRESS THEIR VIEWS ON ALL THINGS MEDIA RELATED. LET'S TALK ABOUT SEASON 1 OF LEGION.
By Synatra aka Dr. Frankenstein
[A recap of my convo with Jazmin]
Season 1 of Legion just wrapped and I feel like I been trippin for the past couple months. The show goes all over the place in terms of questioning what is “reality” and what isn’t. I’d try to explain the premise of the show but honestly I’d end up confusing myself in the process. Just watch it and then come back and read this (promise you’ll come back!). One thing to keep in mind is that the show is set in the 60s….which I’m ashamed to say had to be pointed out to me.
Still don’t know how I missed that! And apparently it was one of Jazmin’s fave parts about the show….that it’s in the 60s...which I missed...what is wrong with me!? Also, it’s lowkey horror, at least to me and my overactive imagination. Anywho, as much as I loved the show for leaving me confused and wanting more every week, there were some huge problems. It’s the same issue I have with most sci-fi, but oh well I’m taking it out on Legion today.
Jazmin pointed out she’d like to see stories like this about POC. “The white male audience hears ‘look at how powerful you are’ like they do in all media.” This is a trope found in many "unlikely hero” stories: David is the special, unique, and powerful savior. They spent at least the first half of the season describing homeboy's power to an almost distracting degree. He has dissociative personality disorder and each identity has powers, which I must admit is impressive. BUT although the character is white in the comics, why not race bend every now and then? Hollywood seems to enjoy doing that when it comes to heroes of color. If white actors can play the role of the Ancient One and the Mandarin, then actors of color can play Legion and nem. #Logic
And to make things worse, David’s relationship with Syd, the imitation Rogue (is that unfair?), is infuriating. He warns her not to come with him into his memories because he’s a monster and her response is “Do you love me?” which I translated to mean “the way my entitlement is set up…” He’s got a tragically paternalistic relationship with her where her biggest responsibility has been to uplift him because he soooo powerful. Their kiss is what sparks the entire journey 🙄
The relationship itself was unnecessary and the idea that she should risk herself for love (and more significantly his ascension) because his other personalities like to wild out is….sad.
Then there’s my favorite character to hate, Ptonomy. He’s the only black mutant on the cast so far (because of course there can only be one) and he’s gotta be the most unlikable token I’ve ever encountered (at least that I can think of at the moment).
Here’s my theory about his character: I was listening to an episode of Code Switch and Robin Means Coleman, who analyzes race in horror, explained that the black guy dies first in order to set the bar for the superiority of the white man who will ultimately overcome the monster. She applied a similar concept to the magical negro trope where basically the black guy has powers that are used at the discretion and benefit of the white hero. HE’S THE SAME THING! He’s the vessel for the group to do all the work they need to do. They’re using his data to assist in their analysis. He’s just an instrument of research, like a thermometer or a microscope. He’s got an attitude for no reason and no range of emotions. He’s unlikeable, like a robot. #SunkenPlaceOrNah
About Kerry/Cary….I almost loved this character (characters?) because I felt like there was a potential to explore two-spiritism and TGNC realities (I also felt this way about David/Lenny) but idk how intentional that correlation is; they miss the mark so much on racialized gender performance so why not other gender realities? They also have another super problematic relationship. Kerry, the Native American girl/young woman, doesn't get to be a full human. Cary, the older white male scientist, dominates the pair. They were born at the same moment but they merged into the same person somehow (I choose not to question fantasy) and Kerry only ages when she’s manifested.
Cary orders Kerry around a lot to assist with his experiments and then she manifests when someone needs to catch those hands. Their entire situationship represents mestizaje! The wild, savage, uncivilized, conquerable, tamable, cultural indigenous woman meets the civilized, superior, Christian, white male master and create the mestizo who traces their culture matrilineally and civility patrilineally. Anglo colonizers used this to justify the inferiority of non-Anglo societies; they set the bar according to their own norms and then demonize the Others.
So another one bites the dust. The show was great in terms of the story, graphics, etc. but my search for sci fi that doesn’t make me feel personally and intellectually offended certainly has not ended.
Dr. Synatra is a recent PhD from the DMV, Netflix extraordinaire, and ex and future travel junkie. She's also a co-host on the Inside the Female Mind podcast