SYFY's Superman-prequel-series-with-a-time-twist Krypton returned for a second season this week, and one thing has become pretty clear: it bears surprising similarities to the British soap opera Hollyoaks.
Krypton is about Superman's grandfather Seg-El in his youth fighting against an oppressive caste system that dominates Kryptonian society. He's having a secret Romeo-and-Juliet love affair with Lyta Zod, the future mother of General Zod. Then Earthman Adam Strange shows up from the future to tell him he needs to prevent Brainiac from messing up the timeline and preventing the emergence of Superman in the future. Hijinks ensue… then General Zod arrives from the future and even more hijinks ensue.
Hollyoaks in Spaaaaaaaace!
Krypton is hilarious. It's a very British show. The main cast is British, except for Shaun Sipos. He's Canadian and plays Adam Strange. He's the only one on the show with an American accent. The show is filmed in Belfast, probably because Ireland offers some kind of tax credit, which means it probably has several Irish actors in it. Television shows are all about saving money on the tax credits these days. You can't blame them, really – shows are expensive to make, especially Science Fiction and Fantasy shows set on other worlds.
The Britishness of Krypton is what makes me think the show is really Hollyoaks in Space!
Just What is a Hollyoaks, you might ask?
Why, it's a British soap opera featuring a cast of very pretty twenty-somethings. Relationships, abuse, drugs, parental and peer pressure, job pressure, mental health issues, you name it, all the subjects you expect from soap operas are present on this show. Every decision is life-or-death – and the subtext of a soap with pretty people is always who's going to shag whom and when? Pretty much like Krypton, really. Krypton adds "…in Space!" to the ingredients, with time travel, space ships, Game of Thrones-style political intrigue and warfare added because… Science Fiction!
Hollyoaks has been around on British television since the 1990's. It's the only UK soap that features cast of mainly pretty twenty-somethings rather than tired middle-aged character actors. For a young actor or actress starting out in the UK, Hollyoaks is one of the few starring roles they can land other than one of the other less glamourous soaps. It's either that or playing a patient on hospital soap Holby City or a guest spot on one of the cop shows. Only the luckiest ones end up on Doctor Who. Perfect example? Hollyoaks alum Mandip Gil currently plays Yasmin Khan in Jodie Whittaker's run on Doctor Who.
There are so many similarities Krypton shares with Hollyoaks:
The hero and heroines are very good-looking and keep secrets… just like a soap!
They have secret love affairs that are forbidden by their parents and society… just like a soap!
They're under enormous pressure to do the right thing but face temptations… just like a soap!
The hero even has a skinny wisecracking salt-of-the-earth best friend… just like a soap!
To add to my "conspiracy theory," Wallis Day (Nyssa Vex) is also a Hollyoaks alum.
All the Soapy Tropes!
The most common plot trope in soap operas is a psychopathic villain showing up to make the heroes' lives hell. This occurred in season one with first the arrival of Brainiac. Then it happened again with the arrival of General Zod from the future. He reveals Seg-El and Lyta are his parents. More soapy angst! Secret children, illegitimate babies, even cloned babies are the stuff of soap operas. Krypton has those in spades! In season two, we're getting the first live action version of Lobo this season and he has a working class regional British accent!
Krypton doesn't even bother to hide its Britishness anymore!
Since it's mostly British people who know about Hollyoaks, it makes sense that this show is called Krypton. "Space Hollyoaks" is a little too obvious and a lot less "brand exciting." After all, DC Comics and Superman are a much bigger and more famous brand.
So if you watch Krypton, try checking out an episode of Hollyoaks or another British soap opera. It makes it so much funnier – and you'll see that I'm right.
Hollyoaks is currently streaming on Hulu in the US… I wonder how many people in America actually watch it?