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Andor and us

“Andor,” now streaming on Disney+, is the best television since Game of Thrones. We’re now nine episodes into the season’s twelve episodes. Ken called it “Star Wars for adults,” which is a good description. If the Force exists in “Andor,” it hasn’t yet made an appearance. There are no cuddly animals, no light sabers, and no Yoda-like characters who are all-knowing. These characters — like us — are on their own to deal with a world that is sinking fast into fascism. This is pure politics — a developing rebellion against the fascist Empire.

I very quickly lost interest in the new Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones spinoffs and stopped watching them. There’s room there for plenty of criticism, but neither of those two series is really worth bothering with criticism. The bottom line for me was just that I couldn’t care about any of the characters.

“Andor,” on the other hand, is loaded with characters whom we can care about, right from the first episode. Those characters who are powerless are increasingly feeling the iron boot of the Empire. Even those who are powerful (a rebel senator or two, for example) would lose their lives in a second if their cover was blown.

Episode by episode, Andor’s parallels with our current political situation become more apparent. I had been wondering how intentional this is. It seems the answer is that it’s very intentional.

The Wikipedia article says that Diego Luna, who plays Cassian Andor, and Tony Gilroy, who is described as the “showrunner,” have said that the Andor series is about “how the disenfranchised can stand up to effect change.” Fiona Shaw, who plays Cassian Andor’s adoptive mother, is quoted in the Wikipedia article:

“Co-star Fiona Shaw described Gilroy’s political commentary in the scripts as a ‘great, scurrilous [take] on the Trumpian world,’ adding that ‘our world is exploding in different places right now, people’s rights are disappearing, and Andor reflects that. [In the show] the Empire is taking over, and it feels like the same thing is happening in reality, too.’ ”

This series is so well done that I’ve watched each episode at least twice, and some of them three times. It moves fast, and the details are important.

Are Trumpists aware that Disney is exposing their fascism and motivating the resistance? A little Googling shows that Trumpists are aware, and they’re plenty mad about it, claiming (for example) that Disney risks financial disaster if they alienate half their potential audience. Ha! According to Wikipedia, Andor has been at the top of the streaming lists.

“Andor” is worth studying from several angles, especially how the rebels and the fascists differ in their “moral foundations.” Andor’s fascists, like our Trumpists, are cruel, uncaring, and committed to iron-boot authoritarianism. The motivations of the rebels, more complex and more subtle, are being revealed in the script a bit more slowly. I’ll have more to say about “Andor” in the next few weeks.

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