Throwback Thursdays: Stargate SG-1

Welcome to another edition of Throwback Thursdays! I want to talk about the sci-fi show of my childhood—Stargate SG-1. The story starts as an ancient teleportation device, the Stargate, is discovered in Egypt, and Dr. Daniel Jackson, an anthropologist, joins the team lead by Col. Jack O’Neill to explore the worlds connected by the Stargates. The team is also joined by Dr. Samantha Carter, astrophysicist and member of the U.S. Air Force. On one of their expeditions they meet Teal’c, an alien slave warrior. He betrays his masters, the Goa’uld, and joins the team. The Goa’uld are a parasitic alien race pretending to be gods, and they remain the main enemies of our heroes for most of the show’s run.

Stargate_SG-1_teamAs a child, I loved this show because it was set “now” and the Stargate allowed them to travel to different planets without any tedious or scary space travel. Daniel and Sam were my favorites—as a child who would grow up to be a scientist, I related to their excitement and curiosity about learning about different planets, people, and technology. Now, as an adult, I decided to revisit my favorite series to see if it’s as good as I remember. I actually just finished watching the entire series. And, well, the result is mixed. But despite my annoyance at various offensive tropes, I still loved it, mainly because of the awesome female characters.

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Stargate SG-1 and the White Feminist

Stargate Emancipation Sam AngryThe other day, to avoid finishing the third season of True Blood, I started rewatching Stargate SG-1. Like many shows, the first season is really predictable, episodic, and cheesy. Despite that, I have fond memories of the Stargate franchise—it really grew as a show over the seasons, and the later episodes didn’t have the same problems that the ones in the first season had. This is a really good thing, since Season 1, despite being really fun and goofy, ended up having a lot of offensive material. Though Stargate SG-1 does really well talking about certain issues, such as slavery, the first season completely fails in others, like male rape.

However, it also set out to talk about women’s issues, specifically with the character Samantha Carter. And Sam is an amazing female character. Indeed, Stargate has a lot of well-written, well-developed female characters, but Sam was the first. And Season 1, Episode 3, “Emancipation”, sets out specifically to talk about oppression against women. Unfortunately, it does so in the worst way possible. Here is the Wikipedia summary for that episode:

SG-1 visits a planet inhabited by the Shavadai, a nomadic tribe descended from the Mongols. They regard women as property, and restrict their rights in the belief that to do otherwise would bring “demons” (the Goa’uld) down upon them. Carter ends up being ‘sold’, but when Carter beats a chieftain in hand-to-hand combat, the team changes the tribe’s opinions about the rights of women. Guest starring Soon-Tek Oh and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.

Yeah, you can imagine the problems I had with it.

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