First of all, if you’re not already watching The Expanse, stop reading this and binge season 1 so you can get current with season 2. It is by no means an understatement to say that the series is one of the best and most refreshing shows on TV. The story is really intriguing and it features some great characters. Perhaps more important though, is the gritty sense of realism that is imbued within the fabric of the show along with their painstaking attention to scientific detail. All of those things working in conjunction with each other really make the world of The Expanse feel distinctly different from most sci-fi fare.
Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus are the co-creators of the show as well as two of the executive producers and they are very well aware that it’s the human element and the realistic environments that make the series unique. Recently the pair touched on these driving aspects of the series in an interview with The Huffington Post. Fergus begins,
“Most science fiction is grand and epic. Star Trek is regal…We liked The Expanse because it’s a story about the little guy, who the science fiction genre doesn’t usually pay much attention to.”
“From the beginning, what drew us was the human beings and their stories. The technology that usually drives sci-fi is there, but it’s pushed to the side. When humanity gets to space, it just brings along all its baggage on a larger scale. You look at the Starship Enterprise, it’s always clean and perfect. Who cleans it up? On our show, we get into that. No matter how well some people live in the future, there will always be someone pushing a mop.”
While the two set out to create a TV show, the series is actually based on the series of novels written by Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham under the pen name James S.A. Corey. Really, Ostby and Fergus were the perfect pair to adapt the novels as they clearly have the appropriate mindset and are staying relatively close to the overarching story elements from the novels. In fact, Franck and Abraham have done some writing on the series this season, which is something you don’t often see.
Keeping in line with the realistic human element, the science of the show is also very grounded. Unlike many sci-fi shows, The Expanse doesn’t bend or flat out break the rules of physics. A good instance of this has been on display in the last few episodes. First, when the Rocinante went into a full burn to try and keep pace with the runaway Eros Station you could see the physical toll that took on all of the crew. Then last week again, in the flashbacks that showed the Martian engineer create the super-efficient Epstein drive, we see him in a full burn and unable to move his arm in order to switch off the engine due to the gravitational force he’s subjected too. In fact, Nerdist recently revealed that the scripts for each episode are color coded based on the gravitational force in effect during the scene.
Though it’s most certainly difficult for them to maintain these efforts, they are well worth the trouble as the results have been fantastic. As producer Naren Shankar put it,
“Almost no one wants to deal with the reality of micro-gravity environments or thrust/spin gravity effects in space flight,”
Due to all of these creative efforts working simultaneously and seamlessly, The Expanse truly is one of the best and most ambitious shows on TV.