“It’s a story about a normal family in extraordinary circumstances” as the show’s stars describe it. Like millions of “next door” families, the Robinsons are a family that fights to rebound their shattered relationships; except that instead of spending a day out together at a mall, the Robinsons take a trip to space where they get lost and bonding becomes their only way to get out.
Lost in Space is Netflix’s latest series which just went online on Friday 13 April. Rebooted from the show that was once a huge hit in the 1960s, the series is set 30 years from now, when Earth is no longer a livable planet and discovering new worlds for humans to restart their lives has becomes a must.
Starring Molly Parker and Toby Stephens, the sci-fi drama show takes audiences to a mysterious frozen world, where the spaceship of the Robinsons crashes, letting them discover along with the family the surrounding danger, aliens, and constant fear, as well as the road to fix the shattered ties bounding the family members.
Daily News Egypt met the stars of Lost in Space in Dubai, where they celebrated the premiere of their show, and discussed how it presents perspectives that are no longer far from expected nowadays.
Featuring the reality of family bonds
The Robinsons are one of the many other families who are sent to different planets across outer space after Earth has been devastated with wars and pollution and civilisation has broken down because the planet had become inhabitable. On their way to what they once believed to be a “paradise planet”, the spaceship gets lost and crashes on another one, which is far from what they had expected.
While exploring the living creatures on the planet, the family deals with the fact that they are exploring as much about themselves as well. Through flashbacks, audiences slowly collect the missing puzzles of the reasons behind the absent family bond.
Unlike the 1960s version, the show presents a modern aspect of families’ lives, where the family is actually broken, connections are deeply disturbed, and ties are almost worn-out. With a separated husband, John (Toby Stephens), and wife, Maureen (Molly Parker), and a wrecked relation between the father and his children due to his absence most of their lives, the plot also features the struggles of rebounding that becomes essential for their survival.
“The 60s was the era in which people often had the image of idealising families. Nowadays, our idea of a normal family looks more like these people in the show; it is a splendid family, with parents as strangers and the children coming up against real obstacles,” Parker said.
“If it’s going to be a family show, then the families have to recognise themselves through the screen. We had to present normal families, and modern families are all complicated,” said Stephens.
In his role, John is an army soldier who does not know any language but violence and orders. With the continuous wars Earth had been subjected to, emotions for him are a talent he no longer masters.
He noted that while the writers were working on the show, they made sure that overcoming the families’ personal issues was an element as important as fighting the exterior problems that are happening on the planet.
As the plot unfolds, each of the family members start recognising that they need to change in order to fix their dysfunctional relationships.
“I believe that audiences nowadays are much more sophisticated than the ones who were watching the original Lost in Space. I don’t think anyone would care about whether they make it out of the planet or not, if they did not care first about whether their relationships would get fixed or not,” Parker noted.
Female leading role
While the family struggles to overcome their lost bond, Maureen Robinson, the mother, plays the dominant role in the main key that saves the family and leads them towards their way out.
“The role of Mauren is, untypically, written in a much more male form when it comes to personality,” as Parker describes it. “She is a science expert, a logical person, and seeks to find a solution to every problem; something she aims to cover with her lack of emotional intelligence.”
The show offers a large scale of women empowerment, not only with the dominance of female actresses, but also by portraying the mother as the leading family member who first initiated the space trip and follows that with her decisions to get them out of it.
“When I was first approached about doing the show, I was told that Maureen is the leader and the hero of the show,” Parker said.
As she went on, Parker mentioned that one of the things she liked the most about her role is that it highlights women’s strength without actually directly mentioning it.
“As the show displays it, 30 years from now, not only is Maureen as capable—if not more—as John in dealing with crisis and taking care of her family, but nobody even talks about it,” she said.
According to her, female empowerment is not a point of discussion in the series, “because hopefully, 30 years from now, we would not have to be talking about whether women are strong. We all know that they are!”.
However, the show also manages to portray the leading woman whom every other character follows as a human being with lots of troubling issues.
“It’s great to play a woman who is as capable as Maureen but still has her own flows and fights. She’s very demanding with some serious issues,” Parker added.
The Robinson children’s message to the world
The Robinson’s three children play a remarkable role in portraying the effect of a family’s loosened connections on children. Taylor Russell plays the role of Judy, the strong-willed and confident older sister who comes from the mother’s previous marriage, while Mina Sundwall portrays Penny, the middle sister who is always quick-witted and definitive. Meanwhile, the youngest child, Will, is portrayed by Maxwell Jenkins, and is the most sensitive, creative child who sees the good in everyone and makes friends with robots.
The young artists believe that their roles send great messages to those around their age who watch the show, as they see that the show features uncommon circumstances, yet, the children’s personalities have much in common with everyone else’s.
From their point of view, family is the main theme of the show, which is always presented in the slogan they keep saying: “the Robinsons stick together.”
“Despite the fracture of the family, the family soon realises that they have to stick together and I believe that is the most important message that can be sent,” Jenkins told Daily News Egypt.
In his role, Jenkins plays the character of the sweet-hearted, brave, and innocent child who would dig deep until he sees the good seed inside of everyone he sees, which makes him the first to form friendships with the robots of the planet.
“I love that Will is capable of looking beyond the exterior in anyone and tries to find something in common between both of them. Even when he meets a robot, he is still able to find the good inside of it,” Jenkins said, explaining the reasons he was attracted to the role of Will.
He further added that the message Will can deliver is highlighting how people can accept others’ differences. “I think that this is a quality in a perfect world we’d all love to have,” he added.
Jenkins mentioned that he believes that Will’s main message would be reaching out to others.
“If someone watches Lost in Space and connects to the relationship Will shares with the robot, it would probably teach him to reach for someone he would not probably do; someone who is probably alone and scared just like the robot was,” he concluded.