“Good news, everyone!” – Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth
The year 3000 in Futurama is Louis C.K.’s famous “Everything is great and nobody is happy” statement taken to its illogical, animated conclusion. Fry, the Professor, Lela, Zoidberg, Bender, Hermes, Amy, and a host of other ancillary characters (like poor Zap and Kif, picture) take the logic of Star Trek, combine it with a Flash Gordon-esque retro-future, a plethora of transhumanist tech (heads in jars, cryonics, nano, cloning, ad nauseam) and a huge grain of nuttiness, and you have what might be one of the best shows to ever be on television.
Futurama does Star Trek one better, however, in the category of making you forget anyone is different. The shows have rough analogues: Professor:: Picard (bald leader); Zoidbert::Worf (alien); Bender::Data (robot); Fry::Wesley (child); Lela::Troy (pseud0-alien). Listen, I get it, the analogies aren’t perfect, you see the similarities. But while Star Trek hammers us constantly with the “Worf is a Klingon and therefore quite different from normal humans” and “Data is an android and therefore perplexed by things like laughter and figurative language” routine, Futurama goes in the opposite direction. All of the characters, human or otherwise, are so bizarre and ludicrous that we simply see their quirks as a virtue of who they are, not what they are. Bender is filled with vice, Zoidberg is a freak, and the Professor is a madman not because robots are amoral, aliens weird, or humans crazy, but because that’s just how those characters are.
In short, Futurama is the best example of, uh, entity-type-blindness; personhood, the value of the mind and person, is central to allowing the weirdness of the show to shine through. Can’t wait for the new episodes at the end of the month.
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