'Space Force': Dr Chan-Angela Ali relationship proves Netflix show is serious about interracial representation
Spoilers for 'Space Force' Season 1
Netflix's 'Space Force' might not be known as the best work of creators Steve Carell (who also stars as the protagonist General Mark Naird) and Greg Daniels (because it is a dud on several instances), but it is notably remarkable for taking representation in relationships seriously.
Dr Chan Kaifang (Jimmy O Yang) is a scientist as the Space Force base and Dr Adrian Mallory's (John Malkovich) right hand. Extremely intelligent, he is on top of the entire project just like his boss. Angela Ali (Tawny Newsome) is a Space Force helicopter pilot, who is headstrong and frankly, hilarious.
What the first half of the Netflix workplace comedy doesn't show is the potential of a romance between them. It is when Chan drives Ali to her eye appointment, that the two vibe over K-Pop music and choreography, on pop culture, music and other shared interests. But their chemistry does not come from common interests but from an unspoken bond the duo shares.
Later, what could have been their final night — both alive and on the Moon — Angela receives a call from Chan from the base on the Earth — an 'in case something happens to me, you should know that...' call. This is perhaps the first time that the two acknowledge their interest (or shall we say, feelings, for each other). And so with this final goodbye, Angela leads the team to destroy the Chinese research base. Of course, upon their return, they are met with their own destroyed base.
We wish we had got more time to explore the back and forth between Ali and Dr Chan. The coy smiles they share between, the understanding, words unsaid yet emotions conveyed — it's simply cute, makes us want to really root for them. It must also be noted that their (potential) pairing is yet another interracial couple we're all here for. Earlier this month, its release 'The Lovebirds' starred Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani featuring a very heartwarming, comical, undeniable chemistry that impressed audiences from the get-go. Issa Rae's 'Insecure' also puts the focus on interracial relationships with Yvonne Orji's Molly and Alexander Hodge's Andrew romance.
With 'Space Force', Netflix is taking representation a step ahead. Early on in the season, Chan had pointed out how black women and Asian men are not the most preferred of partners in the dating world. This is backed up by a 2014 OKCupid study that found that Asian men and African-American women get fewer matches than other members. The study inferred that in film and on television, Asian men are often depicted as effeminate or asexual, whereas African American women are depicted as difficult, fiesty, loud and hypersexual.
This is further backed by Rae's own book, 'The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl', where she wrote, "Black women and Asian men are at the bottom of the dating totem pole in the United States. If dating were an assortment of Halloween candy, black women and Asian men would be the Tootsie Roll and Candy Corn, the last to be eaten, even it at all."
With 'Space Force', this representation must be applauded. Why more so is because Ali and Dr Chan together do not come across as the streaming site's attempts at indulging in crass tokenism. A genuine attraction and mutual respect flow between the two and that is the basis of a strong relationship. Maybe in Season 2?
Season 1 of 'Space Force' is currently streaming on Netflix.