Five Reasons Why You Should Start Watching Battlestar Galactica Even Though You Don’t Like Sci-Fi

TV Lists Battlestar Galactica

It’s almost become a cliché—Battlestar Galactica is a sci-fi show that even non-sci-fi geeks will love. But you need more than a cliché. You need actual, compelling reasons to commit to the 70-odd-episodes (not including the miniseries) that, however good, are still about robots at war with humans, first on a dozen far-off planets and then on the few human spaceships that survive. Not only is the premise as sci-fi as it gets, but the show is a remake of cheesy sci-fi. If ever there were a show that could clear those hurdles for people who won’t be in costume when they go see the Star Trek reboot this summer (and even those who will be skipping it altogether), Battlestar Galactica is it. You should start with Season One and continue through the last few remaining episodes of the final Fourth Season. While staying vague enough not to give anything away, here’s why:

1. Sci-fi realism
If novelists can employ “magical realism,” then it’s not an oxymoron to call what Ronald D. Moore has done with BSG “sci-fi realism.” The worlds may be imagined, but there’s nothing tidy about the way any episode or storyline ever ends. Every character is as flawed as the Galactica ship herself, after years of service, countless skirmishes with Cylons and nowhere to port. Goodness and selfishness reside in every heart, whether it’s made of flesh and blood or a really good artificial facimile.

2. The exploration of politics
Political junkies should have a field day with all the hypotheticals presented when a government—run by the former Secretary of Education when all those in the line of succession above her are killed in the initial Cylon attacks—butts heads with a military at war. What freedoms matter when the entire human population numbers less than 50,000 and an enemy is doing all they can to bring that number to zero? Do the ends justify the means when traitors are on the verge of taking power through due process? Should those in charge follow the will of their people or their own conscience?

3. The exploration of religion
The humans believe in the gods, to varying degrees, but the Cylons have adopted a belief in the one true God. Religion can be destructive, as both sides have their fanatics, but it’s also redemptive, mysterious and somehow very real. It mixes with politics in messy ways, but there are compelling reasons for belief. And the truth is somehow much bigger than anyone is able to grasp.

4. The exploration of marriage
The stress of the war, of uncertainty, of cramped quarters, crying babies and infidelity takes its toll on the crew of Galactica, but in the glimpses of love, we see the whole reason to struggle for survival. The sinfulness of humanity is in full bloom, and yet the glory of living is in seeing flaws up close and choosing to love anyway. The families on Galactica model this reality as much as any family drama on the networks.

5. The constant surprises
There have been major twists throughout BSG‘s four-and-a-half-year run, but the plotlines never leave you scratching your head a la Lost. The balance between character development and plot development has been near pitch-perfect, making the wait between seasons as agonizing as the wait between Harry Potter books—uh oh, I’ve lost you again—I mean football seasons… or Anne Hathaway movies. I promise.

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