6 Sci-Fi Shows From the Last Year That You Should Watch
We live in the Golden Age of Television, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. There’s certainly no dearth of shows to watch, especially with the abundance of streaming services at our disposal. Thankfully, as a sci-fi fan, there are also more science fiction options for our viewing pleasure than we can shake a stick at.
Sometimes, knowing what to watch next can get overwhelming when our TV dance card is empty. But don’t worry about falling headfirst into a show hole! I’ve got a list of six excellent sci-fi shows from this past year that you should watch. Most of them have new seasons on the way, too!
Night Sky is a short-lived Prime Video series that’s an amalgam of genres, but it’s predominantly science fiction. If you’ve always wanted J.K. Simmons and Sissy Spacek to star as an older married couple, this show is for you. The eight-episode series follows Franklin and Irene York, a long-married couple suffering under the weight of various health and personal issues, who chance upon a hidden chamber in their backyard shed that inexplicably leads to a distant planet.
The premise alone was enough to reel me in, and Simmons and Spacek deliver career-best performances. Some might argue Night Sky relies too heavily on its dramatic aspects; however, I believe it’s more character-driven instead of cramming too much plot into each episode. Sure, it has a slow start, but once it picks up, there’s no stopping the mystery from unraveling. Plus, the ending takes you to a place you’d never expect and perfectly sets up a second season. Curse Amazon for canceling this one.
You can watch Night Sky on Prime Video.
Syfy has its next series on deck, and it’s the network’s first full-fledged sci-fi series since relinquishing The Expansein 2018. The Ark, from the minds of Dean Devlin (Stargate) and Jonathan Glassner (Stargate SG-1), zeroes in on a small crew aboard Ark One who survives an unexplainable, catastrophic crisis that wipes out their superiors and rids them of life-supporting resources. Now, those not equipped to lead must take charge and see the ship safely to Proxima B, where they’ll terraform it.
Admittedly, this series had a rocky start. Don’t go into this expecting a hard sci-fi series like The Expanse. The Ark is reminiscent of ’90s sci-fi, from the over-the-top performances to the aesthetics and set pieces. It’s corny and stuffed to the gills with cheese. The scientific aspects of it aren’t 100% accurate. Embark on your journey with tempered expectations.
That said, the narrative mystery deepens and takes you on a wild journey. There’s no shortage of action. You’ll even find yourself warming to some of the characters. Just sit back and enjoy the cheesy ride.
The Ark drops new episodes every Wednesday at 10/9c on Syfy. There’s no season 2 renewal news as of yet.
For All Mankind
If you love Battlestar Galactica, Ronald D. Moore’s latest project might be up your alley. For All Mankind is a period piece sci-fi series that also falls into the alternate history category à la The Man in the High Castle. In an alternate timeline in 1969, the Soviets are the first to make it to the moon. Thus, the global space race never ends. The U.S. competes against the Soviet Union, with both camps training women and people of color who were excluded in real life amid the initial stages of space exploration. Each season is set 10 years after the preceding season. For example, season 2 takes place in the 1980s, with season 3 in the 1990s. The series has been renewed for a fourth season, set in the 2000s.
For All Mankind boasts phenomenal performances across the board, and while there are the heavy sci-fi/historical-fiction elements at play, it’s a character-driven series at heart. Plus, it’s fun observing the intricate details in this alternate timeline that deviate from our own. Apple TV+ seems to never miss on the sci-fi front.
The first three seasons of For All Mankind are available to watch on Apple TV+. The season 4 premiere date is TBA.
Remember that time when the Family Guy dude created a Star Trek-esque sci-fi series? Well, Seth MacFarlane was heavily inspired by Star Trek when he gave birth to The Orville, a sci-fi series that blends comedy, drama, and immersive science-fiction visuals for a genuinely entertaining adventure. Set 400 years into the future, The Orville chronicles the journey of Captain Ed Mercer and his crew aboard the U.S.S. Orville as they navigate the universe and encounter various challenges along the way.
The series ran for two seasons on Fox before jumping to Hulu, where season 3 was dubbed The Orville: New Horizons. While seasons 1 and 2 lean into the show’s inherent comedic roots, New Horizons adopts a more serious tone while exploring relevant societal issues. You get the best of both genres, which isn’t always the case in Star Trek. The Orville can make you laugh one minute and cry the next, with multifaceted, lovable characters, intricate in-world mythology, and thrilling sci-fi action to boot. Unfortunately, the show’s future is up in the air, as Hulu has yet to greenlight the series for a fourth season.
The Orville seasons 1-3 are now streaming on Hulu.
From the creators of HBO’s Westworld comes something just as trippy and surreal. The Peripheral, Prime Video’s Chloë Grace Moretz-led sci-fi fare, whisks us away to the realm of virtual reality. Meet Flynne Fisher, a young woman residing in a small Appalachian town who finds escapism in advanced VR games. When a mysterious company sends her a new game to test, Flynne jumps at the chance to experience new worlds. Of course, as with most science fiction, there’s always a cost — and the dangers lurking within virtual reality rival the hazards in Flynne’s real life. It’s based on the 2014 book of the same name by William Gibson.
Amazon spares no expense regarding the visual components in The Peripheral. Watching the series is like stepping into another reality. There are narrative twists and turns aplenty, along with solid performances from the main cast. This isn’t a series to have on in the background while you work — paying attention is a must. Thankfully, the show scored a second season from Amazon, so the sci-fi intrigue will continue.
The Peripheral season 1 is now streaming on Prime Video. The season 2 premiere date is TBA.
Are you on the hunt for sci-fi with psychological-thriller elements? Look no further than Apple TV+’s Severance, a masterful series from the mind of Dan Erickson and predominantly helmed by Ben Stiller. Lumon Industries, a biotech company, utilizes a medical procedure called “severance” on their employees to create an actual divide between their personal and professional lives. This diverging of consciousness finds the employees forming distinct personalities inside and outside of work with their own respective agendas. One employee, Mark, uncovers a conspiracy at Lumon and endeavors to unravel it.
If that synopsis gave you a headache, that’s completely understandable. You’ve undoubtedly heard about compartmentalizing your work and personal lives, and this show takes that, well, literally. Severance is altogether a white-knuckled thrill ride and a hefty dose of visceral surrealism. Everything from the seamless direction and cinematography to the writing and the brilliant performances is pitch perfect.
Severance season 1 is available to watch on Apple TV+. The season 2 premiere date is TBA.
What are your favorite new sci-fi series? Share your thoughts with other sci-fi fans over in our Atomic Misfits Facebook Group, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!