Science Fiction & The Disabled: How The TV Series ‘Killjoys’ Has Broken New Ground
Remember when science fiction on television was fun to watch? If you need a reminder, look no further than the space opera Killjoys.
The intrepid trio operate within a solar system known as The Quad, which is part of a massive sector of space known as the J Star Cluster.
The society of The Quad is highly stratified, with nine prominent families at the top who control all corporate interests and material wealth in the system. The families of “The Nine” live in posh luxury on the dwarf planet of Qresh.
Well, everyone else scratches out an existence on Westerly and Leith — two of Qresh’s far less luxurious three moons — in hopes of one day earning a chance to join The Nine on their gilded paradise.
Outside of the powerful families of The Nine and the corporation they control, the other major power operating in the J Star Cluster is the Reclamation Apprehension Coalition a.k.a. “The RAC.”
The RAC is an independent body that owes no allegiance to any political, military, religious, or economic power.
Instead, it commissions and oversees a legion of interstellar bounty hunters known as “killjoys.”
This is where our protagonists come in. The show centers one maverick team of killjoys:
- D’avin Jaqobis (Luke MacFarlane) a square-jawed, irascible ex-soldier whose personal motto is to shoot/hit first, ask questions later
- John Jaqobis (Aaron Ashmore) D’avin’s genius younger brother whose passion for science is matched only by his devil-may-care attitude
- Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen) the formidable team leader is a mysterious, alluring, and deadly woman with a past full of dark secrets
For over four seasons, Killjoys has lived up to its promise of helping to usher in the return of space opera to television.
Though the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, dismissing it as just superficial fluff would be a mistake.
Sequestered within the layers of its bombastic space-western veneer is a series with a highly-detailed mythology hallmarked by keenly sharp commentary about pretty heady topics, including: the long-con of capitalism, the restrictive nature of classism, the influence of sexual politics on prescribed gender roles, and the evergreen nurture vs. nature debate.
It’s no easy feat to create a rip-roaring, science fiction adventure that also deftly explores the often messy and unpleasant complexities of the human condition — but Lovretta and her writers succeed with aplomb.
In its third season, Killjoys introduced a new group of players known as “hackmods” into its sprawling mythology.
This is remarkable because these new characters represent a marginalized group in need of far more representation onscreen - the disabled.
Hackmods are humans who have been abducted and surgically modified with cybernetic enhancements in order to be sold as slave labor on the black market.
While on sabbatical from his killjoy team, John Jaqobis encounters an underground community of liberated hackmods who have established a sanctuary outside of The Quad.
What makes this terrific storyline so groundbreaking is Lovretta and the show’s producers opted to cast each hackmod role with actors with prosthetics.
This isn’t just one or two roles, but dozens, making Killjoys one of the few television shows— genre or otherwise — to cast such a large number of actors with disabilities.
Among the notable hackmods cast is bionic artist Viktoria Modesta in the shrouded role of Niko (What? I’m not spoiling it for you!).
It’s also important to note the hackmods were positioned to play a very integral role in the third season’s overarching plot.
Frankly, why the media has failed to recognize this significant casting event in television history is beyond me.
Lovretta and her team are to be commended for helping to blaze a trail for more inclusive representation of the disabled in media.
The introduction of the hackmods is ingeniously done, and further cements this gem of a show into my list of all-time genre favorites.
Rod Faulkner is a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan as well as the founder of The7thMatrix.com, an ad-free site that promotes independent SF&F web series and short films. Any donation to help the site continue its mission is greatly appreciated.
Rod is also the author of the short film guide 200 Best Online Sci-Fi Short Films.