Why the hell would you want to read this? Anyway, this article is going to be about the animated, science fiction sitcom Futurama. The show has been around since 1999 and had its final episode in 2013, meaning that when it started I was five and when it ended I was eighteen. So, I definitely fit the target demographic for at least a few years. Yet, despite the show airing almost every day of the week, I was never drawn to it. I preferred the Simpsons. In fact, the only times I ever really watched Futurama was when the Simpsons were coming up and I’d turned the telly on a bit early.
A few days ago, I decided to reconsider my feelings about Futurama. I wanted to find out if it’s as disappointing as I’ve always expected it to be or if it’s actually funny once you get into it. But that was not the only motivation for me to spend my day bingeing on Futurama. There are two more reasons that convinced me to give Futurama a go. For one, there have been a few Futurama posts that made it to the front page of Reddit recently (the Reddit community tends to be a reliable indicator on whether shows are funny or not). The other reason is Leela.
Leela, in case you don’t know, is one of the protagonists. She’s the one-eyed, purple-haired, slim-figured, humanoid alien. Her female assets also happen to be rather pronounced. This is where we’re getting to the point. Leela, believe it or not, is responsible for giving me my first conscious erection. I have no recollection of exactly how old I was at the time, but I think I must have been about nine or ten. Let’s go with ten. Seeing Leela on the television screen had triggered an until then unprecedented bodily response within me, which in turn triggered the formation of new kinds of desires that, unfortunately, were doomed to remain unfulfilled. Even as a ten-year-old I knew things would never work out; Leela was simply too famous for me (only upon further reflection did it occur to me that the whole ‘her being a computer animation’ thing would be an impracticality. Oh, the innocence and ignorance of childhood!). I still think Leela is a pretty attractive animation, though I can’t tell to what extent this can be separated from my discovery of my sexuality.
The chest of memories my mind rummaged through as I got to look at Leela in every other scene was, unfortunately, the most appealing thing about watching Futurama. I wasn’t expecting it to be a laugh-a-minute type of show like the Simpsons, but I thought it would be at least a little funny. Of the 100 minutes I watched, I spent 99 trying to convince myself that the funny bits were just coming up. However, I don’t want to claim that the show is objectively not funny, for if it were it probably would not have been around for as long as it has. And Futurama, even if it did not make me laugh once, does have humorous and thought-provokingly satirical visualisations of the distant future.
A good example of such a visualisation is the suicide booth seen in the very first episode. As absurd as the idea may seem, one can envisage a future where people’s freedoms will be expanded to include the right to die, even if they’re not terminally ill. If a person has been depressed for as long as she can remember and still doesn’t see a way out apart from the way out, who are we to tell that person they are not allowed to relieve herself from her endless pain? And if we allow people the freedom to take their own life, why not also allow these assisted deaths to happen in an efficient and minimally painful manner?
Anyway, where I think Futurama went wrong is that assisted dying is probably not going to happen in a booth. There’s going to be an app for it. Per request, your smartphone—or whatever device we will be using in the future, maybe some implanted microchips—will deliver a laser beam to your brain that, after from killing you completely painlessly, will also conveniently dispose of your body by pulverising you into dust particles so small as to be invisible to the naked eye. All it takes to instigate the suicide is a vocal command. „Siri, I want to die“. Just a split-second to process the command aaaaaaand you’re history! It’ll be called iWantToDie (not to be confused with Apple’s other service iWantToDye, which merely changes the colour of your hair. I foresee chaos).
In the end I think the reason why I could not make it past episode five of Futurama is that the characters lack depth, making them hard to relate to, let alone empathise with, which is a shame the show has such a promising premise. Oh well, at least I got to perv out at Leela for a bit.