If you have kids, there’s one Netflix show that will consistently make you cry. Not in a bad way, but in bittersweet moments of recognition. Some popular TV shows have parents in them. And good TV shows get what it’s like to be a parent for real. Starting in 2018, and airing its final season as of December 1, 2021, the Netflix reboot of Lost in Space is that show, a rare mix of action adventure, prestige drama, and family show — and it’s a perfect binge for parents.
The third and final season of Lost in Space was just released by Netflix, so, for the Robinson family, their robot, their enemies, and allies — including the deliciously duplicitous Dr. Smith played perfectly by Parker Posey — the story is now complete. There are a lot of cliffhangers in the series but now it has a real, definitive ending. And it isn’t just a great ending to a wonderful series, it’s perfect. If you’ve missed watching the show, or have eagerly been awaiting Lost in Space Season 3, here’s why it’s worth giving the entire series a rewatch. Only mild spoilers ahead.
Lost in Space sees parents in a way that seems simple, but isn’t. It’s one thing to watch serious dramas about actual hardships kids face, it’s another thing to give families a powerful fantasy world that is grounded at the same time. Unlike the Robinson family of the original 1960s series, this incarnation of the family is less corny. Penny (Mina Sundwall) and Judy (Taylor Russell) compete for affection from their mom, Maureen (Molly Parker), who, perhaps, is guilty of pushing her kids into being what she wants them to be, rather than who they are. Meanwhile, young Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins) has grown up in a big way, reminding the audience visually just how much kids can change in a few years. When the show started in 2018, young Will looked like a little kid, now he’s a tween, meaning he’s angsty and more world-weary than before. Season 3 also starts where Season 2 ended, the children of the Resolute — not just the Robinson kids — are separated from their parents on a distant world, struggling to survive, and also, to find their parents again.
But, there’s no Lord of the Flies action happening in Lost in Space Season 3. What makes the series exceptional is that it’s exciting and gripping but it’s not grim and depressing. The show is pathologically wholesome and optimistic. Season 3 introduces a new family dynamic to the Robinson clan, thanks to a plot twist in the first few episodes. All of this works because the characters in the show are good people, and if you watch the show with an older kid (7+) you can honestly turn to that kid and say, “It’s going to be okay. The Robinson family will be fine.” Lost in Space is a flawless family show because it doesn’t betray your trust.
There’s always a happy ending lurking in Lost in Space, but somehow the show manages to convince you there might not be. In this way, sometimes the show feels like an old-school YA survival novel, like Hatchet. You sense the characters are going to figure a way out of their predicament — from alien cliffsides to murderous robots — but seeing how they MacGyver their way to victory is endlessly satisfying. Like its 1960s progenitor, and its literary predecessor, the novel Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, Lost in Space feels incredible in certain moments, insofar as certain plot resolutions feel less than realistic. That said, Lost in Space is more careful with its world-building than a lot of other popular science fiction and fantasy. Even if something might not seem realistic in real life, this show has set up enough backstory to justify nearly everything that happens in its finale.
But, for parents, the heart of the show is the reliability of the mom and the dad; John and Maureen Robinson. Lost in Space asks smart questions about modern parenting — who are we after we have kids? Who are we after our kids grow up? Throughout the show, we’ve known that John (Toby Stephens) and Maureen (Molly Parker) don’t have a perfect marriage, but seeing them try to reconnect as a couple is part of what makes it all so endlessly watchable. John and Maureen feel like real parents — tired, frustrated, and loving. When they’re separated from the kids in the first part of the season, they struggle with figuring who they are when they’re not parents. John says being a father is “the best job,” and he’s right. In a wonderful moment toward the end of this season, Maureen asserts her identity as Will Robinson’s mother in a way that feels heartwarming and life-affirming. Even when you’re fighting angry robots and trying to fix defensive shields to stop said attacking robots, being a parent is still the best job.
It may all sound a bit cheesy, but Lost in Space isn’t corny. It’s classic.
Season 3 of Lost in Space just dropped. You can now watch all of Lost in Space — Seasons 1-3 — on Netflix.