[TV Review] Fringe, Season 1

Once upon a time in the long ago year of 2010, I sat down to watch some television and somehow found myself tuned to Fringe. Specifically, I managed to turn on "What Lies Below", which piqued my interest enough to ensure that I tuned in for a few more episodes ("The Bishop Revival", "The Man from the Other Side", and one or two season three episodes) before losing interest. But this winter, I got back into watching television thanks to American Horror Story, and once I had finished binging on Murder House, Asylum, and Coven, I wanted another series to get into while waiting for the fourth season. I opted for Fringe (next will be Firefly, then perhaps Heroes).

After seeing the first season in its entirety, I am a bit disappointed, but I'm not going to stop watching yet. The main thing that kept me watching was the knowledge of the upcoming alternate universe plotline and the secret about Peter; the best aspect of season one--besides Walter, who is a spectacular character--is the foreshadowing of the big reveal about Peter. I loved being able to catch the hints, and I'm rather sure that if I had watched the series without the knowledge of where it was going, I wouldn't have been able to stomach it. Because there are two major aspects to it that seriously grate on my nerves.

I have a very tricky relationship with the science fiction genre. Two or three years ago, I went on a similar television binge and sat down to watch X-Files. I quickly discovered that I hate X-Files; I don't even think I made it to the end of the first season. What made me ditch it? The so-called "science fiction". Yeah, there was a lot of fiction there... but where the fuck was the science? The show was rife with details that fall under the Artistic License tropes, which I am neurotic enough to be deeply frustrated by when I notice them. In both Fringe and X-Files, it is abundantly clear that the writers simply do not care about making their "science" resemble anything close to actual science; they perpetuate common misconceptions and outright nonsense that anyone who paid attention in middle school should be able to see through. I am so, so confused by how people writing within a genre called "science fiction" can consider science an unnecessary hindrance to their creativity. It absolutely blows my mind.

And yet that wasn't the worst part of Fringe for me. No, that honor goes to Olivia, the female main character. She is fucking insufferable. I didn't notice it when I caught those first few episodes as they aired for the first time, but after having sat down and watched the first thirty plus episodes from the very beginning, I can honestly say that I have spent most of my time shouting at the television because of whatever selfish, reckless, or outright idiotic thing Olivia's done in the latest episode. She disregards necessary safety protocols and basic common sense. She bosses her superior officer around, who she also baselessly accuses of sexism in the first episode; the show had to introduce another, more meddlesome boss--a sex predator with a vendetta against her--in the second half of the season to try to make her disregard for protocol seem reasonable in comparison... and it didn't work half the time! (How is that even possible!?) When people ask her questions about her actions or the latest life-or-death crisis, she ignores them. She is routinely praised for her actions, which are dangerous and nonsensical enough that she should be fired for everyone's protection. She has a tragically dead love interest, she was tragically forced to "practically raise" her sister... and then she is revealed to have superpower with tragic origins. She is one of the most raging goddamn Sues I've seen in quite a while.

The saving grace of the series is Walter, who seems specifically designed to tug at my heartstrings. He's endearing, amusing, and comes with a complex backstory that brings the story a wonderful shade of gray. Astrid is also showing hints of awesomeness, though she hasn't gotten much attention yet.

I'm definitely watching through at least the end of season two. I will almost certainly watch season three. I want to see where the alternate universe thing goes. I want to see Walter and Astrid continue to shine. I want Peter and Broyles to get more attention. (I know Peter will, given the spoilers; I have no idea about Broyles.) I want Olivia's "ME ME ME!" attitude to be toned down and her character shaped into someone that I can cheer for instead of berate. I really want to finish Fringe feeling like I haven't wasted my time, and at this point, I'm optimistic that the show will continue to improve as the Myth Arc unravels, the Monster of the Week format starts to go away, and the alternate universe plotline takes focus away from the "Isn't Olivia fucking awesome?" plotline of the first season.

And I am seriously crossing my fingers in hopes of Fauxlivia being a better character than her A-side counterpart.

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