Able to take contemporary television in a tongue-in-cheek manner, Fox’s new show Virtuality does a wonderfully ironic job of mocking the reality television that the network also does so (arguably) well. But what makes the show truly special is the complex character interactions that creator Ronald D Moore handles better than almost any other maker of sci-fi TV or film.
The pilot has already tackled the exploitation of the show’s openly gay male couple when they are persuaded to continue their queeny bickering for the camera. However, it was placed perfectly in the context of a greedy television studio’s desire for ratings at any cost. It may not be a reason to not suspect the real life Fox of these very same improprieties but it is a place to begin the discussion.
But what the ladies most look forward to is the hard-as-nails Clea DuVall, who plays top pilot Sue Parson. Her cocky character may not be a lesbian — in fact, she says early in the show that she doesn’t really like women — but her aggressive, cocky attitude gives her character an extremely queer edge.
(Caution: Spoilers ahead if you have yet to watch.) A key component of the series is the virtual reality machines the crew uses to relax. While the 10-year mission is to travel to a nearby star in order to find a new home for mankind, the cramped nature of the journey makes the virtual worlds the only place the crew can really experience vacation or even privacy. This essential role is jeopardized when a computer glitch begins assaulting various crew.
When one young woman is sexually assaulted, DuVall’s character is the only one to console her. As such both women become integral to the driving force of Virtuality; is reality rooted in the mind or the physical world?
In an effort that already shows both great breadth and depth in a future that feels overwhelmingly real and nearby Virtuality is poised to be the next great science fiction reflection of the modern condition.
Despite somewhat low ratings (1.8 million viewers), the good news is that Jessica Blank, an organizer of the renew Virtuality campaign, told Wired that “because of all the amazing reviews and the buzz, we’re still holding out hope that a big e-mail/letter campaign from fans could get it picked up by Sci Fi Channel or something” if Fox decides it’s a no-go.
But it might help if you watch it online, which you can do below.
What do you think? Would you watch Virtuality if it were picked up as a series?