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26 Nov, 2021 14:08

Mass Effect TV show speculation and fan demands: Male, female or no Shepard at all?

Mass Effect TV show speculation and fan demands: Male, female or no Shepard at all?

Amazon is “nearing a deal” to make a TV show based on the iconic Mass Effect gaming franchise, media reports have claimed this week. Well, I would definitely have sold my kidney to binge watch such a series in the early 2010s.

Now – a decade later – I have no desire to part with any of my organs anymore. But it seems that a Mass Effect show actually has a pretty good chance of succeeding if it’s released sometime in 2022 or 2023.

If it came out in 2012 or 2013 when Mass Effect was one of the biggest brands in gaming and cover-based shooters were all the rage, the series would never have been able to match the hype, becoming the victim of inflated expectations. But now there won’t be any such pressure and the TV adaptation could well be seen as a comeback after ‘Mass Effect Andromeda’ flopped and nearly killed off the whole franchise for good in 2016. Besides, the public had been reminded of Mass Effect by the release of the remastered trilogy earlier this year, which was received really well by players. BioWare has also been teasing a new game in the Mass Effect lineup, but almost nothing is known about that one yet.

Technology has also been an issue: 10 years ago, it would likely have been impossible and definitely too expensive to recreate the epic space battles from the RPG series – like the one in the original Mass Effect game, in which a whole galactic fleet was defending the Citadel from a giant Reaper ship – for a TV show or even for a movie. That has to be among the reasons why the cinema adaptation of Mass Effect never happened, despite Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. having acquired the rights to produce one in 2010. But nowadays the capabilities are there, and we have a few great sci-fi and space opera series, including The Mandalorian, The Expanse, and Foundation, which are all quite impressive visually.

Mass Effect definitely has everything to become the new Game of Thrones, but in space. This universe boasts a very deep and extensive lore; mystery; memorable characters – both human and extraterrestrial; distinctive alien worlds with their own cultures and a lot of political tension between them; not to mention the nail-biting action.

The TV show is as yet just a distant possibility, but its potential audience is already split, and the bone of contention is Mass Effect’s customizable protagonist, Commander Shepard. Some on Twitter want to see BroShep in the series, others are rooting for FemShep, and still others say the series needs no Shep at all. It’s generally believed that gamers like the male Commander, who borrowed his appearance from Dutch model Mark Vanderloo, a bit more; while critics favor the character’s female version and the stellar voice acting of Jennifer Hale.

Back in the day, I did a Paragon run of the trilogy as BroShep, and then replayed the whole thing as FemShep, while only opting for Renegade decisions. I had a blast both times, so I would be happy with any Shepard. But considering current Hollywood trends, chances are high that we’ll be getting a female Commander – ready for a romantic relationship with any life form no matter its sex or biology – at the helm of the Normandy.

Here’s a crazy idea: why not come up with two versions of the show, giving the viewers a chance to choose the sex of the main character themselves just like in the game. It actually doesn’t seem like such an impossible task, considering the current developments in CGI and deepfake. Shepard spends most of the time wearing armor that hides sexual characteristics really well, so Amazon can just slap different heads on the same body – and charge the fans double.

The idea of doing a Mass Effect show without Shepard at all, however, seems dubious – at least if it’s going to focus on the original trilogy’s storyline. The Commander isn’t a silent protagonist, like the Zelda series’ Link. He/she is a key figure at the center of the story. This fight, to save sentient biological life in the Milky Way from extinction, is Shepard’s fight – yes, they had a couple dozen companions, but the role of Shepard’s powerful personality bringing everyone together is a central theme in the series.

But Amazon could well take a different approach and, instead of retelling what we already know, explore the events outside of the games, only briefly mentioned in their lore. The First Contact War – in which humans, having just discovered mass relays and believing the galaxy to be theirs for the taking, are being put back in their place by the much more advanced Turian civilization – would provide for a spectacular series. Another option is starting the show’s story after the end of Mass Effect 3. SPOILER ALERT! Shepard will be out of the picture by that moment, but the creators would have all the other beloved characters at their disposal.

One thing is clear – any scenario will work if the Mass Effect series (should it ever happen, of course) is made with love, by a talented crew, who would be able to put ideology aside and focus on art. It should also have an R rating… Movie and TV adaptations of video games have been lackluster so far, but they have to hit the spot eventually. Why not with Mass Effect?

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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