The Corner

Culture

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sitcom Antagonist

Steve Carell and Noah Emmerich in ‘Space Force’ (Netflix)

I watched the first few episodes of Netflix’s highly anticipated new sitcom Space Force, starring Steve Carell as a harried and hapless four-star Air Force general tasked with becoming the first chief of staff for the new Space Force as it ramps up operations in Colorado with an eye toward putting “boots on the moon” in five years. The show hits Netflix on May 29, and it’s really funny. I plan to review it later, but this is just a note about its political setup.

The unseen president who ultimately commands the program is meant to make us think of Donald Trump, given the way POTUS communicates, but Trump goes unmentioned. Occasionally there is a swipe at right-wing politics, such as a joke about assault rifles in space, but for the most part the show doesn’t grind any axes. It’s a workplace comedy with a stellar cast that includes John Malkovich, Jane Lynch, and Lisa Kudrow. Co-created by Carell and Greg Daniels, who previously collaborated on The Office, it makes the most of Carell’s knack for playing a beleaguered Everyman. His character is kind of awful and kind of lovable at the same time.

Amusing side note: There is a New York congresswoman on the show, complete with long, hyphenated surname, who is an obvious ringer for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and she’s one of the many sources of irritation for Carell’s General Naird. She is constantly questioning the Space Force program and its spending, which she thinks would be more wisely spent on food stamps for her constituents. In one early episode, she grills him sarcastically at a congressional budget hearing, but he unexpectedly turns the tables on her. It’s beautiful to watch and kind of surprisingly patriotic too.

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