Heroes Reborn Review: One and a Half Mehs

When I heard Heroes Reborn was returning to TV, my reaction was, "Oh maybe I'll watch it." It was a show with an interesting idea and wildly inconsistent characterizations and stories that, often as not, read like fanfic written by the creators to appeal to their online communities.

TV.com summarizes all of my opinions on the show brilliantly so I won't go over them here. But here's a choice summary of quotes:

...because that's hella-boring and creator Tim Kring would like to stay in that dramatic kiddie pool of super-powered people against the rest of the world, their abilities misunderstood by Joe Regular and therefore a source of bigotry and hatred...

The bad news is that Heroes Reborn is still Heroes. And not really Heroes 2015 all shiny and new, but Heroes from 2006, dusty and a little mildewy.

This has long been my problem with appropriating the central conceit of the X-Men (that superpowered people are hunted for being different or that beings with magical powers have to hide). Part of it comes from the fact that I wouldn't see the world that way, nor would the huge audiences who turn out to support these superpowered franchises. But it got me thinking why this trope is so common and why I despise it so much.

It's Lazy Worldbuilding

Introducing magic or special abilities en masse into the modern world is a fundamental shift in economics, social class and scientific advancement. It's hard to imagine what a world would look like with superpowered people interacting with each other and the world around them in a variety of capacities.

That's why many writers want to keep special abilities a secret in modern paranormal fiction (or any fiction). It can really mess with the familiar elements of the world so  I get it. But I really appreciate it when people try to do something original. Sanderson did it on an apocalyptic scale with Steelheart; and True Blood did it with vampires coming out of the coffin.

People with special abilities would be the biggest news in the 24 hour news cycle since whatever Trump said last week.

Heroes left off in a more interesting direction with Claire finally revealing her abilities to the world, but it immediately destroyed that idea in the first five minutes of the premier.

Even if persecution existed, hiding is not a good answer. Gays hid for decades. It wasn't until we became visible that we began to gain traction and social acceptance. Even in the most repressive societies, brave people are willing to risk their lives to be heard.

Counterpoint... Sense 8 couldn't have worked without the secrecy, in part because it was handled plausibly, there was an element of mystery, and it gave the characters a reason to work together. Moreover, the show had so much going for it that it just worked.

It's a Lazy Metaphor for Civil Liberty

The always helpful TVtropes has terms for this: Fantastic Racism and Super Human Trafficking.

The X-Men's struggle was partially inspired by the Civil Rights movement. Throughout the comics they could draw parallels to everything from segregation, marriage equality to the holocaust. That was a big deal under the American Comics Code. Now? Not so much.

Television and media are at a point of maturity where we can talk about these things openly and intelligently without having a collective shit fit and censoring everything vaguely controversial.

The showrunners have proven in the past they're willing to pivot on a dime when fans complain so maybe it will get better?  The show was quick to write off boring characters, or shuffle them to the sidelines, but it led to a lot of wasted stories that went absolutely nowhere.

There is so much good TV out there that it's rare for me to stumble across something I don't like. Like erectile dysfunction, I can't remember the last time this has happened. Seriously, my least favorite shows right now (Z Nation,  the Strain, Dominion, and Lost Girl in no particular order) are not bad shows at all and all have their moments... I'd just rather have four more episodes of Continuum a week or eight of Rick and Morty.

But... I have a ton of free time and I consume pretty much anything in the SFF genres so I'll keep watching. If it gets good, or traumatically worse, I'll keep you updated.

Side Note

Also the whole story about the girl in the video game.... was absolutely terrible. If you're going to digitize one of your characters as an MMO avatar, spend the money to do your graphics... the game looked like absolute shit.  Compared to games that people actually play it was like watching the CGI in Lawnmower Man.


Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out October. Sign up for the mailing list for more info. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest . (You can also follow him on Goodreads and even Amazon)

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