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Series / Defying Gravity

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Defying Gravity is a Science Fiction TV show from 2009 set in 2052. In 2042 the US sent five astronauts to Mars including Maddux Donner and Ted Shaw. Only three of the astronauts came back. Now, 10 years later, a mission is being mounted to go visit most (all?) of the planets in the solar system. We meet the people going on the mission just before the launch, and we follow them, and the ground control crew, while the mission is underway. The story of how the crew was chosen and trained is told in flashbacks to 5 years before the mission. And it seems not just the astronauts came back from Mars...

As far as science goes, it tries and mostly succeeds at being a hard science fiction, but the instant and crystal clear two way communication with Earth even as they get to Venus is a big drag on that.

Notable in that it was co-developed by ABC, The BBC, CTV and ProSieben, meaning its country of origin is The USA/Canada/The UK/Germany.

Has nothing to do with the Wicked song.

This show has examples of the following tropes:

  • Abortion Fallout Drama: Zoe has a one-night stand with Maddux and gets pregnant. Jen puts her in contact with a dealer, who supplies Zoe with a pill for a chemical termination (abortion is illegal in the States at this point, even though Jen believes that it's only a matter of time before the law is overturned). The pill ends up nearly killing Zoe, and she's rushed to the hospital for a hysterectomy (meaning no more kids, ever). Despite this, she remains in the space program and ends up on the Antares mission. On the ship, though, she starts hearing a baby cry, eventually revealed to be a hallucination created by the Beta object in one of the holds. The ultimate end for all this is finally revealed in the season finale (also the end of the show), where Zoe starts having full-blown hallucinations about Gamma being her baby, causing her to risk her life bringing it back to the ship and Maddux refusing to leave her behind after finally putting the pieces together.
  • Artificial Gravity: The ship uses two forms; on the main deck it's magnetic materials in their blood and clothes, but in the crew quarters it's caused by rotating arms creating centrifugal force.
  • Badass Israeli: Evram is a former IDF combat medic
  • The Bet: Whether or not any of the guys will be able to get it up while on HALO libido suppressors. Ajay is able to manage it after one look at Nadia in her underwear.
  • Captain Ersatz: Jen and Ted in pseudo-Star Trek Vulcan costumes on Halloween.
  • Celebrity Endorsement: The candy commercial was going to be this, until the astronauts started hallucinating.
  • Clingy Macguffin: The baseball for Donner, who gives it up twice only for it to come back to him. He eventually chucks it out the airlock
  • Crapsack World: Further seasons would have expanded to show that the Earth had become this. In the first season, this is mostly shown by having the major criticism of the Antares mission being that it's a waste of tax dollars that could be used to fix various world crises.
  • Flashback Echo: See above; events in the present parallel those in the past.
  • Global Warming:
    • In Episode 5, "Rubicon," characters remember when the Great Barrier Reef "used to be underwater," and regret that it is no longer underwater because of global warming. Problem: If there is global warming, ice caps melt and ocean levels RISE. The only way the ocean levels would have dropped enough to expose the Reef would be for the Earth to be in an ice age with extensive glaciation.
    • They do mention later that Canaveral is underwater. Although it's still launching probes to Venus apparently.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Done when Paula loses her thumb. Blood droplets fly all over and have to be vacuumed up, though.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The hidden purpose of the mission, to unite the Beta object with objects Alpha, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, and Eta.
  • Happily Married: Jen and Rollie and Ted and Eve are married couples.
  • Heroic BSoD: Evram has occasional PTSD flashbacks to his inability to save a Palestinian schoolgirl who was killed in an airstrike that he called in when he was a combat medic.
  • Hollywood Economics: In order for the space program to get ten billion in funding For Science!, the Antares crew is supposed to do a candy commercial from space. There's no indication of Ridiculous Future Inflation, so how could it possibly be worth that much?
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Rollie says this regarding him not telling Jen about Beta.
  • It's All About Me: Donner's reaction to Zoe leaving after being cut from the program, even after being told the real reason multiple times and even agreeing that he wouldn't stay in that situation either. He still tries to make it all about his failures and his "rule".
  • Jerkass: Goss, both in general and in the backstory. He suppressed footage and made it look like a transmission failed to hide the fact that he, and not Ted and Donner, panicked on the Mars mission
  • Latex Space Suit : The EV suits. The actual suit for moving around on Venus is still a Michelin Man design, though.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Done to Zoe and Donner, the latter of whom thought his vasectomy was still working.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: The Antares mission splits up three couples - Jen and Rollie, Ted and Eve, and Evram and Claire. Unfortunately for their spouses back on earth, Jen and Ted used to be a couple, and will now be spending six years together in close quarters.
    • Claire and Evram and Ted and Eve seem to be able to deal relatively well with this, but both Rollie and Jen start to go a little crazy without each other
  • My Greatest Failure: The Palestinian girl for Evram, leaving the astronauts on Mars for Donner and Ted, the abortion for Zoe.
  • Odd Friendship: "Odd" does not even begin to describe the relationship between Wass and Paula.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Averted, as Paula is an extremely devout Catholic, Ajay is a Hindu, and Ted was raised Buddhist. Zoe's mother also has various New Age-y beliefs, which her daughter thinks are nonsense.
    • Paula becomes an even more explicit aversion as the story goes along: she believes Beta is the messenger of God.
  • Powers That Be: "Beta," whatever that is, appears to be subtly manipulating the space program, and decides who gets to go on the mission and who doesn't.
  • Recycled In Space: The show was promoted as 'Grey's Anatomy in space'. The show's creator figured that scared off sci-fi fans. It certainly was inaccurate; very little sex actually happens, and the issue is dealt with a lot more seriously especially when it resulted in an unplanned pregnancy and traumatic abortion.
  • Spy Speak: "H2IK" translates into "Hell if I know." Donner is able to use it in order to signal Ajay to help him out with a piece of science he doesn't know; later on Ajay is able to communicate that he doesn't know what the problem is with Antares to Donner without Goss realizing it.
  • Subspace Ansible: The only explanation for why the people on the Antares would still be able to speak with Earth instantaneously. It feels out of place in a series that's trying to be relatively realistic.
  • Survival Mantra: "Six sick slick slim sycamore saplings."
  • Training from Hell: Done in "Love, Honor, Obey" (especially using Electric Torture) to get the candidates to follow orders without asking lots of questions or when they disagree.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When Paula suddenly gets sick during a briefing, we get a shot of her puke flying across the room due to the zero-g.