Review: 3-Body Problem is a Drama Show Identifying as a Science Fiction Show

Should you watch 3-Body Problem? Here's An honest review from a fantasy and sci-fi nerd of the 3-Body-Problem show on Netflix. Enjoy!

Review: 3-Body Problem is a Drama Show Identifying as a Science Fiction Show
Image: 3-Body Problem / Netflix.

Should you watch the 3-Body Problem TV show on Netflix? I watched the show over a couple of days and enjoyed it overall. I have much to say about it, both as a nerd and a religious person.

3-Body Problem is a drama TV show. There's no way around that. It incorporates some aspects of science, but it's not a traditional science fiction show. Traditional science fiction shows have specific science fiction mechanics that are foreign to our reality and far removed from the advancement of technology. This show, however, could happen here and now.

I have more thoughts about the characters and the plot and want to discuss this in-depth, so let's dive in!

Oh, and before we jump in, this review will include mild spoilers about the show but will not spoil specific moments and scenes. You've been warned.

The 3-Body Problem Story is Relatable

I know that's a bold claim to make about a show with science-fiction aspects, but hear me out.

There are a lot of people today who believe outrageous things like not giving a woman control over her womb, or that if you don't convert to a specific religion, you should die, and that Jews like me should not exist. I live through this reality every day of my online existence without even opening my mouth to speak.

So, I don't find it as esoteric as some might think when I see a story about a divided human society caused by events planned for the far future.

The producers, and by proxy, the author of the book this series is based on, have done a good job of ensuring the conflict is "logical" and makes sense in the world and people's reactions. Those reactions hold up to be a better story than what this could have been had they not had the reactions they did.

Aside from the conflict part, the story of Ye Wenjie and her terrible past is an interesting way to look back on China's real past. Maybe we don't see it as privileged people who get to sit on our sofas and watch a Netflix show, but the world is rough out there for some people right now. Those people are driven to extreme actions that they might regret in "calmer" circumstances.

As the beginning of the show progresses, we reveal more and more of Ye Wenjie's past, in addition to her relationship with Mike Evans. The realization of them that "humans need saving from ourselves" is not a foreign concept to some people today. Look at how many wars we have raging around the world right now. Look at how many people die every day.

It's heartbreaking.

So, for a person who does not believe in god, which is many of the characters in this story, believing in something else that can "save you" activates that same part of ourselves that enables chaos rather than order: Two things could be true at once. I am alone in this room, and God is always with me and will save me from all my troubles. Do I know that God is there? No. But I believe.

The same is true for people in the show like Evans and Ye Wenjie; only they have a better way of communicating with their "Lord."

By the way, if you're interested in the 3-Body Problem books, you can find them on Amazon right here. If you buy through this link, you support this website at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

3-Body Problem Has Great Characters

I can see aspects of myself within all of these characters—especially Saul and Rooney. Saul is a young spirit who wants to be free of all commitments, which I greatly relate to.

But Rooney was a character I truly connected with on a deep level. Not only does he have nerdy stuff at home, but he also dresses pretty similarly to me. On a side note, does anybody know what his sneakers were? What brand was that? They looked like Jordans, but I did not 100% identify them.

Auggie was my favorite character. Although she appeared less and less as the season went on, her performances were always so good. She also spoke a different language, which I loved seeing as an ESL person myself.

Jin Cheng, the character who pretty much carried this season (on the frowned-upon Asian Genius stereotype), was the character I least resonated with. I was never the smart kid, and Math and physics never came easy for me. But I did resonate with nerding out over a video game. That was relatable to me.

The Implication of Video Games’ Role is a Bit Much

One of the ideas the show imparts to the viewer is that video games could be used to “recruit” people to an organization with less than peaceful goals.

Anyone who reaches Level 4 of the game is invited to a physical event where they are asked to join the cause.

Now, spoilers aside, I did not like that line of thought. Sure, games can be influential. However, in a world where video games are already demonized as causing more violence and other Outrageous claims, maybe using some other media device could have been better.

How do people get recruited to causes today? I assure you it’s not video games. They can influence some beliefs, but only as part of the storytelling—and that can be done in other ways.

By the way, if you're interested in the 3-Body Problem books, you can find them on Amazon right here. If you buy through this link, you support this website at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Math and Computers Don’t Make a Sci-Fi Show

Is 3-Body-Problem a Science Fiction show?

Stargate was Science Fiction. You had Earth, but you also had the Stargate and alien cultures.

The Expanse is also a Science Fiction show. It has space and interstellar politics.

What is the 3-Body problem show compared to those two? It’s a drama with some science aspects. We don’t even see space. Aside from some very advanced concepts of things we already have today, there isn't anything mindblowing shown on screen that just can't exist in today's technology.

Sure, we have a Video Game featured in the show, but that’s not an immersive experience for us viewers. Stargate Universe did something similar back in the day: it recruited Eli Wallace through a video game in which he solved a mathematical problem. When he refused the offer, they beamed him up to their spaceship to convince him - that’s science fiction.

What did this show do when a player refused to join? Well, I can't tell you because it's a spoiler, but rest assured, it's the oldest trick in the book.

Should You Watch 3-Body Problem?

If you're interested in the show's drama and care little for the science fiction, then go right ahead. However, and I say this with love, you'll be disappointed if you're expecting a science fiction experience like those you got from other popular science fiction shows.

3-Body Problem knows how to tell a good story. There are great moments just like those moments you're used to from Game of Thrones. But there won't be a lot of science fiction to scratch that itch. At least it didn't for me.

You should also consider that this show has been greenlit for a second season. Just like Game of Thrones improved in the past, this could mean more resources to depict pivotal moments.

I haven't read the books, so I don't know what to expect next. But perhaps I will before the next season begins.

By the way, if you're interested in the 3-Body Problem books, you can find them on Amazon right here. If you buy through this link, you support this website at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

What did you think about this show? Let me know in the comments below!