Legacy of Monsters a sci-fi bomb or a touching lesbian love story?

Apple TV/Youtube

Is ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ a sci-fi bomb or a touching lesbian love story? Depends who you ask

Viewer responses have largely been divided along two lines.

 

Kira Deshler

Fandom

Posted on Jan 7, 2024   Updated on Jan 11, 2024, 5:02 pm CST

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What you take away from a piece of media has a lot to do with what you’re looking for in the first place. In the case of the new Apple TV+ series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, viewer responses have largely been divided along two lines.

The series is the most recent entry in the MonsterVerse, a franchise that includes characters like Godzilla and King Kong and began with the 2014 Godzilla film. The show takes place one year after the events of that movie, with a parallel storyline set in the 1950s.

On Reddit, the response to the series has been largely negative. On the Godzilla subreddit, many fans complain about how annoying they find the 2015 trio, calling them “whiny” and describing the writing as “atrocious.” Cate (Anna Sawai) and May (Kiersey Clemons) receive the brunt of the hate from these Godzilla fans, while the 1950s characters are more well-liked by this group.

Another criticism from these fans is the lack of monsters—also known as “Titans”—on the show. The series tends to emphasize the human stories above the monster narrative, which is a welcome change for certain viewers and a disappointment for others. The show is not universally derided on Reddit—some users find it compelling—but there is a definite sense of disapproval on the platform.

On X, reactions were a little different. In Episode 5, we get a look at Cate’s backstory and learn that she had a girlfriend before G-Day (the Godzilla attack in San Francisco). When lesbian and queer viewers got wind of this, the show quickly gained a sapphic audience. The popular X account sapphicslike—which posts a near-constant stream of lesbian content—began posting images and videos of the show in December and likely helped stoke this fan base.

These fans latched onto Cate and May’s relationship, which appears to be heading in a romantic direction. On X, such viewers obsess over the loaded moments between the two women, reposting gifs and fan edits of their scenes together. Series lore is less of a focal point for such fans. Overall, the response to the show on X—as well as Tumblr—has been much more positive, and queer fans’ delight in finding these characters accounts for much of this excitement.

This discrepancy illustrates how distinct these online spaces can be. Reddit, as a primarily text-based platform, lends itself to detailed breakdowns of pop culture and lots of back-and-forth among users. On the Godzilla subreddit, fans have evidence-based discussions, like this post about King Kong’s canonical height.

On X, images, gifs, and video have become the primary formats for fan communities, and Tumblr remains a gif-heavy site. This emphasis on images leads to a different kind of fandom, as fans spend time rewatching this content and coming to conclusions about its emotional—rather than factual—resonances.

Platform protocols aside, the biggest difference between these two fan groups is the reasons they came to the show to begin with. MonsterVerse fans were looking for more creature features and an expansion of the lore. Queer fans who discovered the show through X invested in the characters and were excited by the possibility of a lesbian pairing. This pattern of migration is common amongst sapphic fans, and this burgeoning fandom indicates that the old Tumblr maxim “I’ll watch anything if it’s gay” still applies.

Why it matters

Fandoms are not monoliths. In the case of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, longtime fans rejected the series’ efforts at worldbuilding, while lesbian and queer fans were thrilled by the arrival of a sapphic main character.

It’s clear that one’s identity and history influence how they receive pop culture, and it can be difficult to predict how something will land. But one thing’s for certain: if you put lesbians in it, they will come. 

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*First Published: Jan 7, 2024, 6:00 am CST