For 2015, I decided to start watching all North American Science Fiction shows (mostly since the 1980s but going back as far as Star Trek: The Original Series) I never saw before. I know I have enough to watch for at least a couple of years, but since Science Fiction, especially North American, is one of my main field of research as a scholar and nonfiction author, it is important for me to get this done.
One of the first series I saw this year was Cleopatra 2525 (2000-2001).
An exotic dancer, cryogenically frozen in the year 2001, is accidentally thawed out in 2525 by two female warriors who are fighting against evil robots which have taken over the world. The three join forces and try to escape the underground caverns to which humanity has been banished, meeting up with all sorts of strange creatures along the way. -IMDb
With the few reviews I had seen, I was worried that this show may just be horribly cheesy. It is cheesy and the whole “babe” aspect of the three female leads can’t be forgotten. The show has a lot of flaws because of how it didn’t always seem to know whether it should be serious or comedic and kitsch.
Yet, I liked it, and not just because of Gina Torres playing the trio’s lead, Elle. I never saw Torres act badly but I did care for her character, and even for the others, Sarge and Cleopatra.
Beyond the cheesy and cliché looks of the show, Cleopatra 2525 gives more depth to its characters and the overall story than one may expect when picking it up. There is patriarchy lurking around on several occasions, but women are most often seen as capable and don’t need men to achieve anything. They are able to stand their ground, without being emotionless drones. They watch over one another and kick ass as well as being emotionally strong.
I was also expecting romance to be a bigger part of the story given the looks of the show, but it remained much of a side note. To me the show mostly focused on family and friendship. Yet, Cleopatra and Sarge do have romantic entanglements at times, for better or worse. I very much see Elle as a demi sexual character, which I find interesting because such characters are needed in representation as well.
In a way, the hyper sexualized look of the heroines, meant for the viewer, is pretty normal in the fictional universe, which alleviates its cheesy side to a degree.
One thing I didn’t understand was why the show was called after Cleopatra, the member of the female trio who was frozen for many years before being awoken in 2525. It would have made more sense to have the show named after Torres’ character, Elle, for she is the leader of the group. With how significant Elle’s role as a woman of color is, it would have been great to see the show gets its title because of her.
Did you ever watch Cleopatra 2525? What did you think of it?