Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Defying Gravity”

Dear Frank,

This weekend, I was going through the ol’ LTF archives, and you would not believe what I found: A half-written entry from 2009 about the short-lived series Defying Gravity, better known as the very-diverse-and-weird-Canadian-Grey’s Anatomy-in-space! Here is literally how my post began:

Defying Gravity is a tricky show, because you look at how four entire episodes of this wacky soap opera set in space have already aired, and you’re like, oh, COME ON, no way this show has really lasted that long on a major network (ABC, if you’re curious). But they are sort of cheating, because the first two episodes aired together as an uber-pilot, meaning that it’s survived three whole weeks in the deadest time of year, and looks likely to at least make it to week 5…

It actually made it to Episode 8. Which, Frank, is kind of in-fucking-credible. The more I describe this show, the more you’ll agree.

The premise, basically, is as follows: Sometime in the 2050s a bunch of hottie astronauts (and one borderline fatty, but he makes X-Men references so he’s all right) have been sent into space on an epic six-year tour around the solar system.

Because these dudes have been training for the mission for five years, they’ve had plenty of opportunity to hook up with each other in the off-hours, and I guess the couple we’re supposed to care about the most is Ron Livingston (!!!!!!!!!!!!) and Daisy Adair from Dead Like Me.

Ron Livingston! Hi, Ron Livingston. Hi.

Ron and Daisy fucked once a few years ago, see, and didn’t use any BC ’cause Livingston said he had a vasectomy, but OMG it apparently didn’t take, ’cause Daisy had to get an abortion. Which is ILLEGAL in the 2050s, OMG! And maybe not too effective, because Ron Livingston keeps having these dreams of a pregnant Daisy floating around on the spaceship which may actually be visions of the future sent as warnings…

See, Frank, you know what mixes beautifully with Grey’s Anatomy-style relationship moping? Sci-fi supernaturalism! Yep, mashed into this soap opera set in space was a 2001-esque supernatural mystery, and as much as I hate forced quirky romantic drama, I do love a good sci-fi mystery and I needed to know so badly what Beta wanted but that meant I had to keep watching and ugh SHUT UP with the relationship garbage gah just get to the weird glowy alien rock stuff–

Basically, the show consisted of the following:

  • Characters talking about who they are or aren’t planning on sleeping with, such as the slightly whorish German lady giving Ron Livingston hickies while they test out space suits, despite the fact that they’re all supposed to be wearing sex-drive-suppressing green dots behind their ears CALLED HALOS seriously.
  • Vaguely pointless hard sci-fi scenes that explain shit like why their hair doesn’t float in the artificial gravity.
  • A little bit of “this expedition is largely funded by private corportations, product placement and reality television WE MISS YOU NASA”
  • Genuinely intriguing space drama!

That genuinely intriguing space drama revolved around a weird glowy alien rock stowed away in one of the ship’s compartments — a weird glowy alien rock named Beta, who had some sort of crazy metaphysical powers over the duders on the spaceship, hence a) the reversed vasectomy, b) Zoey’s pregnancy, and c) a whole bunch of other COMPLETELY BONKERS stuff.

Which brings me to this: One of my favorite things ever is when a show creator, after a show’s cancelation, hops on the interwebs and unloads about the writers’ SECRET PLANS for what would have happened in future episodes/seasons. And of all the shows where this has happened, Defying Gravity might be my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE.

Here is a bulleted list of the facts series creator James Parriott unloaded on

  • There were a whole bunch of magic glowy space rocks, and the real point of their mission was to retrieve them all and bring them back to Earth.
  • But the REAL secret mission was that whoever was really in charge of the space mission wanted the magic glowy space rocks out of the solar system, so the space ship was sabotaged with not enough fuel so that eventually they’d just get lost in space. DICK MOVE.
  • Abortion being illegal isn’t the only thing that sucks about the future — things on Earth, apparently, are in general pretty fucked up.
  • The magic glowy space rocks would in fact make it possible for Daisy and Ron Livingston to make a space baby.
  • Whorish German lady? Totally born intersexed (hinted at by her visions of a mysterious dude with similar features), and she would have shifted from female to male over the course of the show’s run.
  • AND s/he would have fallen in love with the battle-scarred doctor/shrink/alcoholic guy — “Mintz and Nadia’s true love would transcend their sex, and give the writers the platform to discuss what love is (and address gay marriage, etc.)”
  • The cute Spanish-speaking girl making a documentary for kids about life aboard the spaceship would come to believe that Moses’s burning bush was actually one of the magic glowy space rocks.
  • Nothing interesting would have happened to the comic book nerd.
  • Except he and probably a few other people would have been TRAGICALLY KILLED at some point. Probably on Mars.
  • And here is how James Parriott described how the show would end: “…we’ll flash back to all of those moments in our characters’ lives – the moments that shaped them – the moments that they could have done something to change. And this time, like a giant do-over, they go the other way. Other moments, unrelated to our characters, shift as well. A road untraveled is taken. A life is spared. And, in a brilliant flash … [The space ship] is floating again above Mother Earth. Coming home. Its astronauts shuttling back to the surface after a successful mission. Climbing out of their shuttle to cheering crowds. Ajay, Goss, Arnel, Claire — a completely different crew. [Ron Livingston] and [Daisy Adair] cheer from Mission Control with their family. It’s a different world. A better world.”

Essentially, as a test of humanity, the magic glowy space rocks (fine, okay, “fractal objects”) would have been assembled into some sort of machine that would create an alternate universe that’s much better than the current universe. THE END.

Perhaps there’s some alternate universe where we actually got to see that whole plotline through — and you know what? As weird and occasionally annoying as this show was, I feel like that alternate universe might actually be the superior one.

Given the choice between five seasons of Defying Gravity and, well, the vast majority of other network dramas out there, I might pick the amusingly insane show. Especially the amusingly insane show with Ron Livingston on it.



About Liz Shannon Miller

Liz Shannon Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor, and has been talking about television on the Internet since the very beginnings of the Internet. She is currently Senior TV Editor at Collider, and her work has also been published by the New York Times, Vulture, Variety, the AV Club, the Hollywood Reporter, IGN, The Verge, and Thought Catalog. She is also a produced playwright, a host of podcasts, and a repository of "X-Files" trivia.

Posted on July 24, 2012, in All the Spoilers, TV and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I was about 11 kinds of sad when it got canceled. It was crazy and relationship mopey and I kinda hated the leading lady a bit with her seemingly permanently pursed lips…but still, they had me at “hello.”

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