20 best sci-fi TV shows that aren’t Star Trek

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3. The Expanse

Genre-mixing has long been something you’re bound to see in science fiction sooner or later. It’s easy enough to create “___ in space”, be it cowboys, fantasy creatures, or even fools in love. But maybe you’re looking for something a little more serious than careless mixing of genres and tropes. Also, perhaps you’re still looking for the gritty side of sci-fi, though perhaps without the sometimes overwrought drama of other properties.

If that’s you, then check out The Expanse. It’s got plenty of realistic science fiction (well, as long as you’re willing to indulge in a little handwavium when it comes to faster-than-light travel). Beyond that, you’re also going to get strong connections with Cold War-style political drama and hardboiled detective fiction.

At the beginning, you’re presented with a complex, if understandable situation. Humanity has colonized the solar system but then split into three major areas. Earth remains under its own control, as does the independent government of Mars.

Then, there’s the asteroid belt, inhabited by “Belters.” The Belt is nominally under Earth’s control, though many Belters are agitating for their own independence. Too bad so many of them depend on their Earth-based landlords supplying things like air and water. Of course, everyone’s fighting or on the verge of fighting with one another.

You’re presented with three different stories, which soon begin to draw closer and closer together. There’s the ragtag band of miners that survive a surprise attack on their ship, which then brings them into a solar system-wide conspiracy. A U.N. politician may or may not be part of that conspiracy, along with a Earth businessman and his rebellious daughter. The addition of a hard-bitten detective from the Belt only complicated matters. Thankfully, for us viewers, it’s a fascinating and compelling complexity.