Netflix’s ‘Lost in Space’ reboot paints important picture of the modern family

The new Netflix series “Lost in Space” provides viewers with an action-packed, dramatic and more diverse reboot of the 1965 series of the same name. The big-budget action scenes and special effects aren’t the only improvements made to this interstellar sci-fi adventure. Writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless do an exceptional job at expanding on the background story and personality of each character. This extra development creates a family dynamic much more realistic and flawed than previously shown.

“Lost in Space” follows the Robinson family across the galaxy as they aim to colonize a new planet. Excitement and adventure come when the ship veers off-course and the Robinsons crash on an unknown planet. The family must deal with a volatile new environment, alien encounters and internal disputes as they search for a way off the planet.

The fact that the imperfect yet resilient Robinson family continuously conquers obstacles in the face of adversity provides a positive message to families across the nation. The Robinsons are no longer the typical nuclear family that was depicted in the original series. Estranged father John, played by Toby Stephens, has relationship issues with his wife Maureen. This conflict has not only distanced him from Maureen, but also their kids. Maureen, played brilliantly by Molly Parker, is a fierce and protective mother who will do anything for her three children.

The three Robinson children, Penny, Judy and Will, all struggle with personal conflicts throughout the 10-episode season. Will, the youngest of the three, questions whether he belongs on the journey. Judy, portrayed by Taylor Russel, is Maureen’s child from a previous marriage who experiences trauma early in the season. And finally Penny, the middle Robinson child, must step out of her comfort zone and lead the group to safety.

In “Lost in Space,” the portrayal of such a diverse and flawed family is extremely important to the success of the series. The Robinsons are not the perfect idealized American family they once were. Like millions of American families, they are now complex, argument-prone and disconnected. This effectively works to break down American family norms and normalizes biracial and step-families. An important message behind the series is that ultimately, despite dealing with family drama, the Robinsons are able to work together to defeat hardships.

Another notable upgrade in “Lost in Space” is Will’s robot sidekick. The robot, which was seemingly just an adorable mechanical pet in the 1960s series, is transformed into a badass alien android that plays an essential role in the arch of the first season. Without a doubt, the new version of Will’s robot friend is an exciting upgrade from the original series.

The only issue I had with “Lost in Space” was that the primary villain Dr. Smith, played by Parker Posey, almost seemed like she was too evil. The writers were too focused on her next sociopathic plan to actually develop the personality of her character and what goals she has. Hopefully in the next season, they are able to expand further on her character.

Ultimately “Lost in Space” offers Netflix viewers a binge-worthy reboot with a diverse cast and interesting sci-fi storylines. The flawed nature of the Robinsons provides an interesting family dynamic and lots of drama throughout the first season. I’ll be looking forward to season two, coming out in 2019.

Rating: 3.5/5


Matthew Souvigney is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.souvigney@uconn.edu.