The timing is certainly coincidental, but this Friday is a big day for women in science fiction. On the same day Rogue One: A Star Wars Story comes to theaters with Felicity Jones leading the mission, Netflix premieres The OA Season 1. The streaming service just started promoting the show a few days before its debut, piquing the interest of media outlets and potential fans with the mystery of it all. Filmmaker and actor Brit Marling plays Prairie Johnson in The OA. Prairie was blind when she went missing. Seven years later, she returns with stories about a strange scientific facility and the gift of sight. Very Stranger Things, right? From the trailer, it looks like one of the primary differences between The OA and that other Netflix show might be the ages of its main characters. Eleven is a kid, but how old is Prairie Johnson supposed to be?
It's revealed early on in the series that Prairie was 21 years old when she disappeared. That would make her about 28 years old when she comes back and the primary action of The OA begins. And as an adult woman in the genre of science fiction television, Prairie joins a prestigious tradition. The OA could catapult her into the ranks of women like these, who've already put their mark on TV history:
The Leda Clones In Orphan Black
Why settle for one token heroine when Orphan Black is centered around a strange sisterhood of identical clones, each one fierce, complicated, and played by the incomparable Tatiana Maslany? The BBC America drama uses the concept of cloning to explore ideas about the ownership of women's bodies, and the final season starts next year.
Dana Scully In The X-Files
The skeptic to Fox Mulder's believer, Dana Scully is a brilliant scientist, medical doctor, and saint for putting up with her partner's monster-hunting field trips. The petite Gillian Anderson famously had to stand on a crate to make it into frame sometimes, but Scully always measured up to (or, more frequently, ran circles around) her fellow agents.
River Song In Doctor Who
Until the show finally casts a woman as the Doctor, River Song will fill that hole. Alex Kingston brings big hair and big sass to the role of the Time Lord's partner-in-crime and occasional antagonist. And the beauty of time travel is that Doctor Who can always find a way to bring her back.
Zoe Washburne In Firefly
Firefly was too beautiful to live, but Gina Torres made an instant impression as Zoe, the second-in-command on Serenity. Calm under pressure, Zoe is exactly the kind of comrade the impulsive Captain Mal needs to keep his crew alive and flying. And her flirty and faithful marriage to Serenity pilot Wash make this pair one of the greatest 'ships in the verse.
Science fiction television has been pretty great to women over the years. And The OA's Prairie might be the next truly great character in line.