In the past few weeks, Netflix has been adding TV series and movies left and right. One of the latest additions to their lineup of Netflix originals is Space Force. The new series was created by Greg Daniels (who co-created Parks and Recreation and developed the US version of The Office) and Steve Carell (who played Michael Scott in The Office). The show primarily follows General Mark R. Naird, who’s been assigned to head Space Force, the newest branch of the military. Along with a team of scientists, Space Force works towards getting “boots on the moon by 2024.”
Before the Space Force team can get boots on the moon, however, they have to undergo a variety of smaller experiments that are supposed to help them reach their goal, beginning with a satellite launch that doesn’t go as planned. From there they have to deal with budget issues, a lunar habitat experiment in danger of failing, a competition with the Air Force, a spy within Space Force, and rivalry from the Chinese. Eventually they manage to make it through each of their major obstacles, but the season ends on a cliffhanger that calls for a second season.
Space Force is a mild jab at plans for an actual Space Force. As this has not yet come to fruition, it imagines what the inner workings would be like, poking fun at other aspects instead. One quote that stands out is when General Naird’s PR head says, “He’s tweeting about it in four minutes” in reference to the United States President (who they only ever refer to as POTUS). They inflate the ridiculousness of their fictional POTUS — through social media and the higher up chiefs and generals of the other branches of the military — in a way that many will recognize as references to the real world. Part of why this works so well for the show is that it’s just political enough to make you laugh at the real world implications without being overly political. Rather than focus all its energy on the real-life politics, it takes the time to thrive in its own.
One of the strong points of the show is the way the cast worked together. The series relies heavily on its ensemble, with several different characters offering important contributions to the show, whether they are scientists — such as Dr. Chan Kaifang and Dr. Adrian Mallory, played by Jimmy O. Yang and John Malkovich, respectively — Space Force and other military personnel like Captain Angela Ali and Brad (Tawny Newsome and Don Lake), or recurring characters like General Naird’s social media and PR guru F. Tony Scarapiducci (Ben Schwartz) and Naird’s daughter Erin (Diana Silvers). No character felt pointless. Even the more minor ones were necessary in some way. One of my favorite characters that exemplifies this is Naird’s father, Fred (played by the late Fred Willard). Every so often he’d pop up, usually just talking about something not specifically related to anything. However, his character offered great comedic relief and also provided a deeper glimpse into the Naird family.
Finally, I can’t talk about Space Force without mentioning its lead, General Naird. Throughout the series, Naird is a generally ridiculous person; he takes himself a little too seriously sometimes, comes up with less than helpful ideas on how to solve a problem, and occasionally refuses the advice of people trying to help him (usually Dr. Mallory). Despite everything, though, it’s obvious he cares about Space Force and wants it to succeed. When more about his personal life is revealed, Naird becomes more relatable beyond his high ranking position. He’s a dedicated father and husband, regardless of the situation with his wife. Carell does an excellent job bringing out all of Naird’s personality to the screen. You see the love his has for his family and his frustration with work. He carries himself with the absurdity someone like Naird would, in the way he walks and how he talks in various settings.
As a whole, Space Force was an entertaining ride. It’s easy to root for the main crew in all of their endeavors, even the ones not directly related to the mission of Space Force. It’s full of plenty of humor and laugh out loud moments, ranging from deadpan humor to more obvious jokes, slightly reminiscent of the same humor present in The Office. Carell and the rest of the cast bring an interesting dynamic of characters to the screen, many with their own brand of humor that sets them apart. It’s the perfect show to help you take a step back from the world for a few hours.
All episodes of Space Force are now streaming on Netflix.