At the end of Stargate SG-1’s seventh season, General Hammond (Don S. Davis) – commander of the whole of Stargate Command – left the show. He was very briefly replaced by Dr. Elizabeth Weir as head of the base, until she could be spun off into her new series, Stargate Atlantis. Then Jack O’Neill – Hammond’s second in command – took over the base until Richard Dean Anderson decided to leave the show, and Jack had to be promoted to an offscreen position in Washington.
This is where Stargate missed a great opportunity. Jack got to recommend a replacement. This is such a quirky post, he could’ve named anyone capable of responding to virtually unimaginable situations quickly and decisively. So who did he pick? Yet another white guy played by Beau Bridges.
Why not a woman?
The U.S. Air Force has a handful of female generals, so it’s not implausible – in fact, Sam Carter is more implausible, given that women are still supposed to be kept off the front lines of combat. It would have been different, interesting, exciting. Since we’d never seen anything of General Hammond’s love life, they could’ve just written the role as if they were writing for him, so it wouldn’t even have required extra effort on the part of the “boy’s only” treehouse club that passes for the show’s writers.
Isn’t sci-fi supposed to be progressive? This show has modeled itself off the Trek series in every way except showing glimpses into a brave new world where leadership is assigned by qualification, not gender. And wouldn’t a well-drawn, decisive, authoritative female general have offset some of the complaints about Sam Carter? Well, maybe not by that time; but it would have provided a positive distraction from her loss of confidence in the later years.
But, sadly, even in the realm of fantasy, this is all just a fantasy. I come up with these ideas every time I watch sci-fi: why can’t we run into a primitive alien tribe that’s matriarchal now and then? Or a species that has only one gender, where everyone comes complete with all the sex organs, but still needs another individual with whom to procreate? Why did Anakin and Padme’s wedding have to conform to 20th Century American style, like that’s a natural universal default? Why do we just keep seeing reaffirmation of patriarchal prejudice in a genre that’s all about progress and development and growth?