We've had some really incredible science fiction in the last few years, with shows like The Expanse, Black Mirror, Orphan Black and plenty of others that use the genre to dive as deep as possible into humanity, society and technology. But science fiction is good for something else too: it can be fun as shit.
Killjoys is one such show, following a trio of bounty hunters as they hunt down targets and quip like they're in a Joss Whedon show. From the get-go, the show ticks every box that you'd expect it to, featuring stylishly choreographed, over-the-top action sequences, the classic local bar full of eclectic characters, a corrupt and oppressive government presence and a talking starship named "Lucy" because of course.
But this all comes together to work surprisingly well. It's a lot of safe, well-known and well-worn concepts and that makes it familiar, comfortable and offers up a lot of opportunities to just have fun with it. We know what we're getting with a show like Killjoys, we recognize it from a dozen such stories and that makes it very easy to enjoy. But even though it works, this comfort and simple approach isn't enough alone to keep it going for more than a few episodes.
And so where Killjoys really succeeds is the characters and the world-building. The show takes place entirely in a single star system, the Quad, with four habitable planets/moons. Over the course of the season, we learn a lot about life in the Quad, about the balance of power where the different worlds represent different classes and levels of power. The noble families live lives of luxury on Qresh, whereas the industrial-based Old Town on Westerly is home to the workers, the down-trodden. Each location breathes with its own sense of character.
Killjoys follows an effective show-don't-tell mentality, not wasting any time on heavy exposition and, if anything, relishing in organically exploring more of this world through the characters and their interactions instead of through easy info-dumps. Where is Earth? How many colonized systems are there? Doesn't matter yet, if ever, and this mystery opens so much story-telling freedom.
One of the big strengths of Killyjoys is its cast and characters, who are incredibly likeable and refreshingly diverse. It flips the usual stereotype by featuring a non-Caucasian woman as the unquestioned and legitimately bad-ass leader, Hannah John-Kamen's Dutch. Rounding out the crew with Aaron Ashmore and Luke Macfarlane as a pair of estranged brothers, the chemistry between the three is one of the most entertaining aspects of the show. Ashmore and John-Kamen ring true as old friends, close as can be, although it takes until the second season for Macfarlane's character to really find his voice. But when he does, it clicks really well.
The rest of the supporting cast is littered with endearing characters, from flamboyant bar owner Pree, former noble-girl turned doctor-for-the-poor Pawter to rebellion-leading monk Alvis. The show does a fantastic job of fleshing out the support cast as their own well rounded characters, even if they're not in the spotlight, and it goes a long way to making the world feel lived in. Importantly, diversity is a genuine priority for Killjoys when it comes to their casting and it shows in every scene. It makes it easier to believe that this is a representation of our whole world's future.
Don't come in expecting anything incredibly clever or that has something important to say. Creator Michelle Lovretta (also known for Lost Girl) has been pretty candid about that not being her intention. Sometimes we just want something fun and easily entertaining, but the real trick is making sure it doesn't come across as too simple. There's a fine balance when it comes to being tongue-in-cheek but also taking itself seriously enough to make the more interesting moments land.
Killjoys manages to find that balance, providing a fun, tropey sci-fi romp that has some really terrific world building,well developed and diverse characters and a satisfying long-term story arc that should keep you interested.