Red Dwarf Is Back Minus Its One Female Cast Member
By Alex Cranz
In the early 90s Red Dwarf came on at 10:30 and Doctor Who came on at 11:00 and every Saturday night my sister and I would be there with a giant bowl of air popped popcorn swimming in melted butter and salt. She’d put a tape in the VHS and hit record and we’d watch out British science fiction. Any time after that I’d have Red Dwarf and Doctor Who available to me with a careful use of the tracking function and a press of the play button.
They were my jams. My programs before it was socially acceptable for a ten-year old to HAVE programs. But my sister and I disagreed. She was into Tom Baker’s cold sore years and I was a Peter Davidson girl.
Also she didn’t record EVERY episode of Red Dwarf whereas I worshiped at the show’s alter. Lister, Rimmer, and Cat were my people. Intergalatic ne’er do wells who died thinking of gazpacho soup, impregnated their grandmothers with their fathers and rocked an iridescent suit like nobodies’ business.
Despite being a budding feminist who couldn’t watch The Jetsons because of the antiquated gender roles I never had a problem with the lack of women on Red Dwarf (though ship’s computer did identify as female for a few seasons after breaking up with a version of itself from an alternate dimension). It was a future where a man’s best friends were a robot with a runaway penis, a cat and a hologram of a prig he used to room with. It wasn’t exactly a reflection of my own pre-adolescent reality.
Besides any women who did show up would pale in comparison to the memory of Lister’s one true love, Kochanski. She wasn’t a character as much as ideal. A distant memory of perfect that Lister clung to (and wanked to).
Then in 1997, well after I’d moved onto greener pastures (X-Files hooooolla) Kochanski was resurrected and added to the show’s principal cast.
The bloom quickly fell away from the rose and a tired will they won’t they developed between her and Lister. It was, in retrospect, the dark years of the show. Tired creatively and physically the cast sort of listlessly moved from scene to scene and rehashed old jokes only now with more nods to the fact that there was a woman among them.
Chloe Annett, who played Kochanski in those dark years, was an able enough actress–even funny in some episodes, but her existence shattered the one truly sweet aspect of Lister’s character–mainly his centuries long crush on her.
The inclusion of Annett, coupled with the show’s general lack of oomph, led to a minor revolt in the more neck beardy sectors of the fandom. They did not like her and they did not like the show and after two seasons it ended with a whimper. Her appearance in one offs since has been sporadic and reportedly she will not be back for the show’s tenth season starting in October. (10 seasons over twenty four years? Sopranos and Mad Men can suck it!)
So why did we all hate her? Was it latent sexism? Our devotion to principle? Should Lister find happiness with his alternate universe crush or should he forever be a spicy curry consuming bastard travelling through space and having time paradoxical incest sex?
And why has Hatty Hayridge not reprised her role as a female version of the ship’s computer?
The tenth season starts broadcasting in England October 4th. Reportedly PBS will be handling the American duties and like Doctor Who the show will air the same day in both countries.
Source [The Escapist]