I'm a big fan of SyFy's now-cancelled Eureka
. It's a show about a town full of mad scientists given nigh-unlimited resources to reshape our scientific understanding of the world, and the lone cop who keeps their madness in check. It's well made, fairly well acted, and deeply charming. And in the last two seasons it took massive risks with departures from it's usually storytelling devices.
One of the better aspects of Eureka--aside from making gender and race largely non-issues--is sheriff Jack Carter. This article goes into it in quite some detail.
Eureka's Critique of Scientific Elitism | Overthinking It
However, we experience Eureka through the eyes not of one of its many scientific geniuses, but of its most average citizen. Jack Carter, the show’s protagonist, is remarkable for being ordinary. Thrust into the role of sheriff after an accidental arrival, Carter is immediately bemused and disoriented by his new role as one of Eureka’s few denizens of average intelligence. At first glance, Carter appears to be a classic example of a bumbling Everyman, spending much of his time confused and uncomfortable with the intellectual prowess of those around him. The curious incongruity to this narrative, however, is that in both Eureka’s “monster of the week” episodic narrative and their season-length story arcs, it is Carter who consistently rescues other characters and recognizes solutions to crises facing the town, typically through creatively piecing together information supplied by his smarter scientist friends. The writers regularly produce a deus ex Carter to save the Eureka from disaster.
But is the deus ex Carter really just a narrative cop-out? When examined more closely, could this narrative pattern have a deeper point? Like its titular town, Eureka the show could be seen as a kind of think tank for pondering the nature of the human intellect. After five seasons of Carter’s unorthodox successes, I suggest that Carter’s unique problem-solving abilities ultimately inform a more nuanced theory of human intelligence than the traditional scientific mindset upheld by Eureka’s geniuses and, by extension, the show’s audience. In Carter’s incongruently savvy heroism, Eureka deploys a carefully constructed, devastating critique of the very scientific elitism that Eureka’s niche audience is likely to endorse.
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