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7 Best Shows Like ‘For All Mankind’ You Must See

November 8, 2019
7 min read

As Apple seeks to carve a niche for itself in the already overcrowded streaming business, one can expect some truly unique shows from the tech giant. While most of its initial set of series like ‘Dickinson’ and ‘See’ did not receive the acclaim that the California-based company would have been hoping for, one show that fans and critics seem to have really enjoyed and found fresh is ‘For All Mankind.’

For starts, the show merges the two speculative genres of space drama and alternative history: something that has possibly never been done previously. Delving into both history and science, it presents a truly novel premise that is sure to hook potential viewers with curiosity. That being said, early reviews have also pointed out how the Apple TV show manages to add in humor from time and not become overly heavy.

It asks viewers a simple, speculative question: What if the United States of America had lost its space race against the Soviet Union? Would NASA have been this dominating in the field of space technology? Would it have meant that the competition for mastering space exploration might have intensified and been more of a level playing field?

Beginning a month before Apollo 11, it postulates the fictional premise of USSR landing a manned rocket on the moon before the USA with team. Wittily, a fictional news article with the headline, ‘Red Moon’ is shown highlighting the Red Scare (fear of Soviet communists dominating the world) that existed during those times. This raises the stakes for NASA and the organisation attempts to catch up by trying to send its own astronauts to the moon, more desperately. It is filled with historical references, like the characters of Neil Armstrong and even Richard Nixon.

‘For All Mankind’ is produced by Ronald D. Moore who helmed ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and ‘Outlander.’ The show’s lead actor is Joel Kinnaman who is notable for his appearance in ‘House of Cards’ and another science fiction show, ‘Altered Carbon.’ He plays the character, Edward Baldwin.

As stated earlier, ‘For All Mankind’ has a truly unique concept and with its merger of space drama and alternate history, there is hardly any show or movie that matches it. However, a few distant resemblances obviously exist. Here is the list of similar TV shows that you might enjoy if you liked the Apple TV show’s high octane and speculative fervour. You can watch several of these shows like ‘For All Mankind’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

7. Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)

Produced and written by Ronald Moore, who is also responsible for ‘For All Mankind,’ this 2004 military science fiction series is set in the same universe as the critically acclaimed 1978 series of the same name. Set in another solar system, it presents the fictional world of “Twelve Colonies” that has been colonised by mankind.

The central conflict of the show is its war with an android race called “The Cylons.” After the Cylons cause near-complete destruction of the colonies, the only surviving human spaceship, Battlestar Galactica are tasked with a David vs Goliath style mission of reclaiming the lost colonies. Edward James Olmos played the commander of this spaceship and was seen in the lead role, apart from Mary McDonnell who essayed the role of the President. The series was met with impressive reviews from critics who pointed out that it is fun to watch and deeply metaphorical and well-researched at the same time.

6. Firefly (2002-2003)

Another successful space drama, ‘Firefly’ looks at a bipolar world order similar to the one that existed during the Cold War. In this show however, USSR is replaced by China who has formed an alliance with the United States of America as the strongest nation-states. The premise of the show is about a central government controlled equally by China and the United States.

After the federation manages to thwart a civil war, the losers find themselves on the fringes of this interplanetary world, trying to survive from a day-to-day basis. The outlying planets where these surviving washouts live resemble the American Old West- under limited governmental control. The show was very well received with its writing appreciated for its balance of conflict, tension and humour.

5. The Americans (2013-2018)

Although not a space drama, ‘The Americans’ is perhaps one of the best shows revolving around the Cold War. Rather than being told from an American point of view, this series focuses on a couple of Soviet spies who take cover as an American family residing in the United States of America. It has been appreciated for showing the other side of the story in an unbiased manner and its historically accurate representation of the 1980s. Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys reprise the role of the spy couple who must balance their covert careers and their family life.

4. Star Trek: Discovery (2017-)

The seventh and latest series in the ‘Star Trek’ universe, it is set ten years before the original TV show portraying a war between the Klingon houses and the United Federation of Planets. With its usage of space drama to portray the real world’s international politics, Star Trek has been renowned for portraying political conflicts that resemble contemporary ones in a speculative fashion. This is the reason that we feel Star Trek is a close companion to ‘For All Mankind.’ Both the shows rely on speculative, space drama to highlight the tensions of the actual world.

3. The Expanse (2015-)

Based on a series of novels by James S. A. Corey, ‘The Expanse’ is another show that is set in an interplanetary world colonised by humans. It begins with a few characters attempting to thwart tensions between Mars and Earth growing into full-scale war while Josephus Miller, played by Thomas Janes trying to find a missing woman. Soon, it is revealed that the two storylines are related as part of an apocalyptic conspiracy. The show has been praised for its visuals and painstakingly detailed world-building. Although its few episodes, critics pointed out, felt jumbled up; the loose ends were tied brilliantly as the show progressed.

Read More: Shows Like See

2. Colony (2016-2018)

A reversal of the premise of human colonisation of space, ‘Colony’ imagines as part of planet Earth being taken over by extra-terrestrial beings. Set in Los Angeles in the near future, the city is governed in a dystopian fashion by an organisation called “The Transitional Authority” who serve the colonising alien race. While some of the humans have accepted their subjugation, a few join a rebellion movement known as “The Resistance.” Josh Holloway plays Will Bowman, a reluctant officer of “The Transitional Authority” while Sarah Wayne Callies plays his wife who is involved in the resistance movement.

Read More: Shows Like Dickinson

1. Mars (2016-2018)

Although set in the future, this National Geographic series takes the approach of a documentary to ground its fictional and futuristic setting to real science. Set in the year 2033, it is a story about six astronauts on their way to Mars and a malfunction of their spaceship, “Daedalus.” The show has been praised for its realistic treatment of speculative elements through its usage of interviews with real scientists talking about actual scientific breakthroughs.

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