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Spoiler warning: the following story contains spoilers for the first season of Netflix’s new comedy series, Space Force. Stop reading here if you haven’t seen the show or don’t want to have anything spoiled.
- The first season of Netflix’s Space Force is now streaming.
- With Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, and Lisa Kudrow (among others) the show might have Netflix’s most stacked comedy cast ever.
- The show takes a bit of time to get going, but history suggests that a Season 2 could show significant improvement.
Netflix has pulled together some big time comedy casts through the years. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Titus Burgess, and Jon Hamm. Grace and Frankie has Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterson. Glow has Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, and Marc Maron. Master of None has Aziz Ansari. So, when we say that Space Force, the streaming giant’s newest original comedy series, has it’s greatest cast ever, we’re not saying that lightly. But with Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Ben Schwartz, Jimmy O. Yang, Diana Silvers, and Lisa Kudrow (among many, many others) on board, it’s not a hard argument to make. Unfortunately, the show takes a little bit of time to hit the highs that its epic cast suggests.
Early reaction to Space Force has been a mixed bag, as 43% on Rotten Tomatoes for the show’s first season would suggest. The consensus seems to be that while the cast—particularly Carell and Malkovich—shine in their roles and show some great chemistry, the show itself doesn’t seem to really know exactly what kind of show it wants to be. That, and the unfortunate fact that the jokes don’t land all that often.
Still, though, for a show of this nature to need some time to find its footing isn’t particularly out of the ordinary. The Office (which, of course, also starred Carell) and Parks and Recreation both had a fairly lackluster first seasons before the teams behind the shows reworked a few structural things, character traits, and show dynamics—turning those shows into bonafide hits. By the end of the first season of Space Force, the show has something of a rhythm down, and the characters seem to finally be understanding who they are. Things are coming together, which is a good omen for future episodes.
Also, certain character dynamics also seem clearly set up to continue to evolve. While Mark (Carell) and Dr. Mallory (Malkovich) basically have the Leslie Knope – Ron Swanson relationship of Space Force, other familiar dynamics begin to emerge as well. Jimmy O. Yang (who plays Dr. Chan) and Tawny Newsome (Angela) show a really nice chemistry in the back end of the season that certainly bears further exploring. Diana Silvers, who plays Mark’s daughter, Erin, showed a lot of talent in last year’s Booksmart, so it’ll be exciting to see how she continues to develop as well.
Will there be a Space Force Season 2?
Netflix hasn’t made an official announcement of a renewal yet, but all signs would point toward yes. While the reviews for Space Force have been tepid at best, the streaming giant has simply invested too much into the show to pull the plug after one outing with middling returns. Greg Daniels is a big deal showrunner, and getting Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Lisa Kudrow, and the rest of this cast on board is obviously no easy feat. Frankly speaking, it would be a foolish decision if Netflix didn’t give Space Force a chance to continue to grow and become a great show—especially seeing how The Office and Parks and Recreation did exactly that after their own middling first seasons.
Carell—who not only stars in the show but is listed as a co-creator—made a few references to a potential second season in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly. Upon being asked about the similarities with the real Space Force and whether plotlines would intertwine at all with anything happening in the real world (you know, with the whole global pandemic thing), he played pretty coy. “If we do come back for another season, we’re thinking about plot lines and where we’d go from there,” Carell said. “And determining whether it would take into account anything that’s happening right now, I don’t know — it’s a parallel universe.”
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Carell revealed something else he’s thinking about heading into a second season, too—which song Mark might break into next as a moment of stress relief. (Remember, he gave a dynamic lipsync of “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys in the very first episode.)
“I have to look for the next big stress-relief song scene. For General Naird, I always want to look for some new opportunities for him — and the odder and more surreal, the better to see how he might deal with some of the stresses and strains of his job,” he said. “That’s something that I’m kicking around at this point. What other odd, quirky ways of dealing with his life are we going to see? And whether it’s a song or something else, I find stuff like that really funny, when something comes out of the blue in a surreal and an odd way. I’d like to see some more of that.”
What would Season 2 be about?
As anyone who watched the final episode of Space Force‘s first season would know, the first season ends on fairly large cliff hanger. While Mark and Dr. Mallory’s team beat their projected “boots on the moon” date by four years, it wasn’t long until they ran into trouble. The Chinese, also on the moon, ran over their flag; this led to the over-aggressive (and totally unlawful) Secretary of Defense ordering a totally inappropriate response to attack the Chinese lunar base.
Mark, meanwhile, didn’t stand for this. He tried to disobey, but his Air Force rival, Kick Grabaston (what a name, played by Noah Emmerich) took control and ordered the Spacemen to attack the chinese base (with wrenches). Now that the Spacemen have committed war crimes, they returned to find their own base totally deflated.
Mark, who had been detained after disobeying the Secretary of Defense’s order, escaped to save his daughter from a tricky situation in the middle of nowhere. Also, his wife escaped from prison and got into the back of his helicopter. Casual.
The first season ends, then, with Mark in a tricky situation. He’s technically being detained by his own government, his Spacemen are stuck in the middle of an outer space international incident, and his convict wife is in the back of his helicopter. Quite a few things for a second season to build from!
It wouldn’t be shocking if a potential second season either picked up immediately following the events of the first season’s finale, or if there was a time jump of anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to a year.
Who will be in the cast?
Should the show get picked up for a second season, it’s hard to imagine much changing with the main cast. Carell and Malkovich are the backbone of the series, so they would certainly return, as would Silvers, playing Carell’s daughter. Ben Schwartz, Jimmy O. Yang, and Tawny Newsome are all pivotal parts of the series as well, so it would certainly be expected that they would return in their same roles.
While Lisa Kudrow only appeared in a couple episodes of the first season—there’s only so much that could be done with her character incarcerated—she also escaped at the end of the first season. Simultaneously, we still never learned what exactly she did that landed her a 40-year prison sentence. That’s got to come out sooner or later.
One person, sadly, who won’t be around for a season 2 is Fred Willard, who plays Mark’s father, Fred. Willard, a comedy legend best known for his roles in Christopher Guest’s mockumentary movies (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, Mascots), died on May 15 at age 86. Space Force is his final on-screen role.
When will Season 2 of Space Force come out?
That’s a good question. While we feel pretty safe in assuming that the show will be picked up for a second go-around, the state of the world right now—with productions halted nationwide due to the pandemic—make it hard to predict. Netflix seasons generally come out around the same time of year for each new season, but the current situation somewhat complicates things. For now, we can say that at the very earliest, a second season will come out in time for Summer 2021, but at the latest, it could take a whole lot longer. We’ll have to see.
Evan is an associate editor for Men’s Health, with bylines in The New York Times, MTV News, Brooklyn Magazine, and VICE.
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