Murderbot and Chill: TV Recommendations for Our Favorite Terrifying Murderbot

Have you read Murderbot? If you’ve read Murderbot then you know Murderbot is the BEST. Martha Wells’ series balances tense action with a delicate commentary on trauma, while a giant mystery slowly unfolds over the whole series, and she spikes each book with acidic bursts of sarcasm. When we meet Murderbot, it’s on a job at an archaeological dig, trying to keep its clients alive while hiding the fact that it’s hacked its governor module and has free will, and, thus, the ability to MURDER. It doesn’t want to murder, it just wants to hang out and watch all the serials it’s downloaded, but since the humans keep getting into all kinds of dumb-and-potentially-deadly situations, it has to keep hitting pause and going off on rescue missions.

This is the great innovation of Martha Wells’ series. Unlike Marvin or Data or any of the other depressed/tragic robots and androids and cyborgs we’ve met in media, Murderbot A) does NOT want to be human (it doesn’t even want to look human) and B) it just wants to be left alone to marathon-watch media.

Relatable Content.

So when we were thinking of ways to celebrate our favorite Murderbot, we decided that the thing it would love most was a list of stuff to watch, should it ever come through a wormhole that leads to Earth in 2020. Some of these are obvious choices; some of ‘em might need some explanation. We’d love it if you add your own thoughts below!

Let’s start with the obvious one.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Screenshot: CBS

Murderbot is going to LOVE Data. And by love him, we mean it’s going to love snarking on Data’s every decision. It’s going to roll its eyes at his desire to be human. It’s going to have a field day with Lore. It’s going to throw things at the TV when Troi tells Laal to pick a gender. It’s going to throw a damn FIT over the whole thing with Yar. But we suspect that over the seven seasons and four movies that tell Data’s story, it’ll gradually admit to itself that it thinks Data’s pretty great, even if he is much too preoccupied with becoming a real boy.

 

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Screenshot: BBC Two

Another obvious one, but if Murderbot is capable of crushes, it’s gonna crush hard on Marvin.

 

Steven Universe

What is Murderbot’s secret? Beneath its carefully manicured indifference, its resistance to friendship, and its constant insistence that it just wants to be left alone, it really really wants a family. It will always throw itself on the grenade, take the bullet, be the last one off the sinking ship (or exploding planet). It will always, against its own better judgment, respond with empathy. It is also processing one gargantuan case of PTSD. Given all of that, Steven Universe is a natural choice for a Murderbot marathon, and it will probably relate much harder than it wants to as Steven grows up and earns his place as a Crystal Gem alongside his adoptive moms. Plus all the space adventures and planet exploration will appeal to any dedicated fan of Worldhoppers.

And come to think of it, any feelings MB has for Marvin will soon be eclipsed by the all-consuming love Murderbot will feel for Pearl.

The Good Place

Screenshot: NBC

Everything Steven Universe does, The Good Place does… just as well but in slightly more adult terms? Found family, check. Roller coaster of a plot, check. Wholesome speeches about the importance of compassion, check. Heartfelt apologies, check. Queerness galore, checkity check check. But an extra bonus of welcoming MB into The Good Place is getting to imagine its reaction to Greatest Character Ever Janet, whose awesomeness and repeated refrain of “not a girl” and “not a robot” will fill Murderbot’s heart with joy.

And if there’s one thing we love, it’s a joyful Murderbot.

 

Being Human

Screenshot: BBC Three

The premise of Being Human is simple—a werewolf (George), a vampire (Mitchell), and a ghost (Annie) live together in a house in Bristol. Hijinx, obviously, ensue. It sounds like supernatural Friends, or maybe any other mixed gender slice-of-life dramedy. And in a lot of ways, it is: The show does have George, Annie, and Mitchell moving through a variety of relationships and shitty neighbors, all while trying to hold down a job and make rent. But as the story unfolds, the show interrogates Annie’s death at the hands of someone close to her, and why she’s so closely tied to this house. George’s transformations and hunger can’t be contained, and he seeks community and family outside of the group that almost gets him enslaved. Mitchell, taunted by an ex-lover, slips back into his old violent ways and has to go on the run. What begins as a foppish exploration of close-quarters relationships becomes something much darker and sinister, with twists and turns that interrogate the human—or inhuman—experience. Through it all, Annie, Mitchell, and George have to find ways to love and protect each other from a world that doesn’t understand the special thing they’ve built together, which is SO Murderbot’s jam. 

Farscape

Screenshot: The Jim Henson Company

After the run-in with ART, Murderbot will probably be much more open to this story of a ragtag crew aboard a sentient ship, Moya. Given that Moya was once enslaved, and escaped to live her own life? And given that Moya becomes more of a character as the show goes on, and as human John Crichton gradually adapts to life in space, and the whole crew comes to think of Moya as the mother of their found family?

Ugh, Murderbot is going to eat that shit UP.

It just won’t admit that it’s eating that shit up.

 

My Living Doll

Screenshot: CBS

Okay, if you’ve never heard of this one before, you might want to sit down. My Living Doll was a riff on that I Dream of Jeannie/Bewitched sitcom subgenre in which a magical woman partners with a hapless dude and has to hide at least part of her true nature, often resulting in wackiness and/or shenanigans. In this iteration, the woman isn’t a woman at all—she’s an experimental robot named Rhoda. An Air Force psychiatrist is tasked with teaching her how to live like the HUUU-MANN so she doesn’t fall into the hands of the military, and, spoiler alert, wacky shenanigans do indeed ensue! And she gives her male creator and male babysitter lots of chances to announce that she’s the perfect woman because she does what she’s told. This show would serve two purposes for MB: First, it would show it just how backwards human society used to be, but it would also serve as an escapist comedy as episode after episode reveals Rhoda’s clear superiority to the humans around her. Plus? Pre-Catwoman Julie Newmar.

 

Doctor Who et al

Screenshot: Cartoon Network

Yes, Murderbot will enjoy the miscommunications between the Doctor and their human companions, and it will probably develop a soft spot for K-9, and it will be utterly wrecked by all the times the Doctor has to break a human heart (though it probably won’t cop to being utterly wrecked) but really this recommendation is here for two reasons: First, Murderbot will have SO MUCH FUN bagging on the Cybermen. Every time those ridiculous clunky things show up, MB will have a freaking field day. But the second, and by far more important reason, is that watching phalanxes of Daleks will, if there is any justice in this universe, inspire MB to growl EX-TER-MI-NATE!!! in an increasingly loud voice every time one of its human clients is an ass.

It will be beautiful.

 

Gundam et al

Screenshot: Nippon Sunrise

For those who don’t know about the various Gundam series: There are a lot of movies, TV series, and manga, each of which feature giant galactic conflicts fought by people in giant mech suits. The series also usually feature incredibly complex soap opera-style emotional conflicts among the characters—which they usually resolve in the healthiest possible manner by fighting each other in giant mech suits. There have been something like 20 different TV series, plus animated movies, live-action movies, and OVAs, so Murderbot will be able to marathon-watch for hours and hours. And the original 1979 series gave us iconic antihero Char Aznable (seen above laughing gleefully at death) and I think Murderbot will love him, and desperately wish it could be as ice cold as that bastard.

 

Almost Human

Screenshot: Bad Robot/Warner Bros.

Almost Human follows a human cop of the future, John Kennex, who awakens from a 17-month-long coma, and has to grapple with severe amnesia and the death of his human partner. When he reports for work he learns that his new partner will be an android, but there’s a catch: His old partner died because of an android’s blind obedience to logic!

How, HOW will he ever trust his new partner, who is almost, but not quite, human?

And how, HOW many hours of physical therapy will Karl Urban have to do to recover from his permanently clenched jaw?

As a SecUnit, Murderbot will probably love a look at different attempts at crime-fighting (especially since it will almost certainly have better ideas than the completely human showrunners) but it will probably find itself relating more to poor TMJ-ridden Kennex, whose difficulties with trauma and memory loss mirror Murderbot’s own.

 

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Screenshot: Nickelodeon Animation Studio

The big throughline of the Murderbot books has been MB’s very, very slow acceptance of the idea of found family, and the idea that it can actually trust a few people (and ComfortUnits, and Pet Robots, and Asshole Research Transports…). Plus, as we’ve mentioned, it loves a long, rich marathon-watch, and what could be better than watching Aang, Sokka, Katara, and Toph form their crew, with Zuko and Uncle Iroh and Azula dancing around on the spectrum of protagonist/antagonist? And then when MB finds out that there’s a whole second series about Korra? And that there’s a live action version, since Murderbot is in our future, and that’ll be out by then, and everyone will know whether it’s good or not? Maybe just tell them to skip “Appa’s Lost Days”—I don’t think they’ll be able to handle that one without initiating a shutdown sequence.

 

The Mandalorian

Screenshot: Disney Media

While the humans probably fixated on Mysterious/Exhausted Single Dad Mando, or on his perfect adopted child, Baby Yoda, Murderbot’s focus will most likely be on IG-11, the robotic mercenary who starts out as Mando’s enemy, and gradually becomes his greatest ally. This seems like the perfect show for Murderbot, actually, as the combo of Mando’s impassive helmet and Baby Yoda’s absurdly expressive eyes and ears will create a perfect spectrum for interpreting confusing emotions. As long as MB doesn’t give up on the show due to Mando’s anti-droid bigotry, it will be rewarded with a beautiful redemption arc, in which a robot formerly programmed to either kill or self-destruct becomes a healer, and finally sacrifices its own life for that of its clients, er, friends.

Leah Schnelbach wants to have a Netflix party with Murderbot SO BAD. Come talk to them about stupid human emotions on Twitter!

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