Babylon 5 is one of the best science fiction shows ever made. It also kind of sucks, and that’s okay.
“I hope the future will be like Star Trek, but I’m afraid it’s going to be like Babylon 5.”
This is how a friend convinced me to watch Babylon 5 close to a decade ago, and it’s a statement that gets both more and less prescient by the day. Babylon 5 depicts a future rife with stratified poverty, union busting corporations, xenophobic hate crimes, colonial legacies blossoming into new conflicts, and the tide of fascism rising right in our own backyard. In J. Michael Straczynski’s imagined future, the smug neoliberal western hegemony that arose from the ashes of the Cold War really was “the end of history”, and the results are simultaneously anodyne and horrific. Psychic powers are real, but those born with them are enslaved by the state. There are ancient terrors lurking on the edges of the map—civilizations who long ago ascended but refuse to let the children of the galaxy play unattended in the sandbox. People who live on the titular station still have to pay for their freaking healthcare in the year 2258.