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|Season 6 episode|
Broadcast season 8 episode
|Written by||J. Stewart Burns|
|Directed by||Edmund Fong|
|Title caption||PROVIDES A FULL DAY'S SUPPLY OF VITAMIN F|
|First air date||23 June, 2011|
|Title reference||A play on the words "neutered" and "utopia"|
"Neutopia" is the one-hundred-and-eighth episode of Futurama, the twentieth of the sixth production season and the first of the eighth broadcast season. It aired 23 June, 2011 on Comedy Central, with "Benderama", which precedes it in production order, immediately following its airing. After crash-landing on a lifeless, mineral world, the Planet Express crew encounters an alien who alters their genders.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Production
- 3 Reception
- 4 Additional Info
- 5 References
Act I: "Who ever heard of a plane with a woman President?"
After a series of poor business decisions, a cash-strapped Planet Express is unable to pay the mortgage on its headquarters, and faces foreclosure; however, if the company is able to pay off the mortgage, it will be able to keep the building and remain in business. The crew begins brainstorming some money-making ideas, and Leela suggests converting Planet Express into a commercial airline, as they already have a ship, and teleportation technology will not be invented for another 15 years (according to the account of a time traveler). This idea is shot down by the male crew members, who instead propose making a Planet Express-themed pin-up calendar, as all Planet Express employees have a clause in their contracts which specifically states that "all female employees must pose nude if requested".
Leela and Amy grudgingly agree to participate, along with LaBarbara, who is hired to the company in order to more fully flesh out the calendar; however, this still only makes three women, dooming the project to failure. The Professor announces his new idea to found a private airline, ignoring Leela's protests that she came up with the idea first. The Planet Express ship is converted into a space-capable airplane, and the female crew members are initially relieved that they will no longer have to pose in humiliating outfits, only to learn that, instead, they will be forced to wear equally skimpy stewardesses' uniforms. Hermes and Fry are made captains (or "presidents") of the ship, despite the fact that Leela is the only qualified pilot onboard. On its maiden voyage, after the ship is two days overdue to land at its destination of Acapulsar, Leela enters the cockpit to find that Hermes and Fry are asleep at the controls, and the ship has run out of fuel.
Act II: "Test number one: Who can drink the most sulfur?"
The ship crashes on a barren, rocky planet with rivers of mercury. The passengers and crew—16 in total, eight women and eight men—begin bickering among themselves over who should take command and what their next course of action should be. The group is approached by a rock alien who asks to speak with their leader, triggering another argument. The alien is fascinated by the group's division along gender lines (revealing that its species has only one gender, referred to as "nuchacho"), and administers a series of tests to determine which gender is superior, although the results are inconclusive. To settle the matter, the alien reveals that tomorrow morning, the planet they are on will reach perihelion with its sun, and the resulting increase in temperature will kill anyone left exposed on the surface. However, there is an icy mountain several miles away, containing a "Cave of Harmony" that will provide shelter. The first group to reach it, men or women, will survive.
The contest does not go well for either group; the men continually travel in circles, while the women chase after a mirage of a department-store clearance sale. The planet is already beginning to warm up, making the journey more difficult. Leela remembers that one of their group, Amana, is a refrigeration robot, and it would be possible to combine her freon with a gas compressor from Bender's ass in order to build a cooler, making it easier to travel. LaBarbara steals the part from Bender while he sleeps, but, on her way back to the female camp, she runs into Hermes, who—having had the same idea—stole Amana's freon coil. The two accuse each other of being underhanded before making passionate love upon a rocky plateau.
The next morning, Hermes and LaBarbara oversleep, and by the time they wake up, the sun has already risen. The heat causes the mercury rivers to boil and overflow, trapping the men and suffocating the women. Just as they are about to die, the rock alien summons them all to the Cave of Harmony, where it explains that the true purpose of the test was to get the two groups to cooperate in order to reach safety, but they were unable to work together, making the alien "lose a bet" with the Borax Kid. Blaming the groups' failure upon their gender differences, the alien resolves the situation by using its powers to strip them of their genitals and secondary sexual characteristics, making them all of neuter gender.
Act III: "My girls are back!"
The Earthicans initially find their newfound androgyny to be beneficial; the lack of sexual tension between them allows them to get along much better, and the work to repair the crashed ship proceeds smoothly. However, Hermes and LaBarbara find that they miss the feeling of physical intimacy, and confront the rock alien, demanding to have their genders returned. The alien agrees, but performs the process haphazardly; all those in the group who were once men are now women, and the women are now men. The alien admits its honest mistake, and prepares to correct the error, only to suddenly be shot and vaporized by Zapp Brannigan, who was responding to a distress call from the crashed ship. As a result, everyone is stuck living with his or her new gender.
Upon returning to Earth, Fry and the other "men" adapt to their new lifestyle without much difficulty, but the "women" find the change to be more difficult. To make matters worse, Planet Express still faces foreclosure. Amy suggests resuming work on the pin-up calendar; since Fry, Bender, Hermes, Zoidberg, the Professor, and Scruffy are all women now (and must, according to their contracts, pose naked upon request), there is enough material to produce a full calendar. The calendar sells well enough to pay off Planet Express' mortgage, saving the company. Just then, a meteor crashes into the company hangar, and from it emerges another, well-dressed rock alien who identifies himself as the Borax Kid. He explains that since the other rock alien died before restoring the crew's proper genders, it is his responsibility to do so; he summons the gender-swapped passengers from the plane, returns everyone's sex to normal, and promptly departs. Satisfied with this outcome, Leela says, "That's that"... only for Scruffy, still a woman, to emerge from the bathroom and ask, "What'd I miss?"
During May 2011, Countdown to Futurama released six items of promotional material for the episode: a video clip featuring the Planet Express crew members with swapped genders on 4 May, concept art of the female Zoidberg on 5 May, a promotional picture featuring Amy, Fry, and Leela sleeping together on 6 May, concept art of the Planet Express ship dressed as an airplane on 7 May, part of the storyboard showing the crew make the photo shoot on 8 May, and concept art of the female Scruffy on 14 May.
In its original U.S. broadcast on 23 June, 2011, "Neutopia" scored a 1.1 share among adults 18-49 and 2.5 million viewers, making it the third most viewed episode of the season so far, after "Rebirth" and "In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela".
In a preview of "Neutopia" and "Benderama", Katie Schenkel from CliqueClack TV commented that these episodes "weren't her favourite". On "Neutopia", Schenkel felt the episode was too reminiscing of "Amazon Women in the Mood", but not in a good way. Schenkel argues that the usage of stereotypical male jokes towards women (such as "women like shopping") – which is primarily what "Neutopia" is about – is rather tiring and used. But, where "Amazon Women in the Mood" excelled at the usage of these jokes, "Neutopia" falls flat, Schenkel writes, considering many of the jokes seem like they were the ones that didn't make it to the season 3 episode. In fact, the sex-changing plot, Schenkel writes, feels tacked on and ruins the pace of the episode, as it is resolved just as it happens. Further, Schenkel feels the episode is unlike Futurama in that its reflection on gender and sex doesn't feel smart or witty, but rather lazy and unfunny. Blair Marnell nodded Schenkel's sentiment, feeling the episode relied on tired stereotypical jokes, ultimately rating the episode 6.5 out of 10.
In a more positive preview, David Hinckley of The Daily News was more receptive of the episode. He gave it three and a half stars out of five. He stated that the return of the show "doesn't seem to have lost much from either its edge or its attitude." Nicole C from Poptimal was also more positive in her review, but does not go into detail about her opinions.
- The episode is among the few one-word titled media and, due to LaBarbara's line "This is like a neutered utopia - a neutopia", the media featuring its title.
- Even as a female, Scruffy still has a mustache.
- This episode is the first episode since "Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television" to have been aired out of production order, which first aired almost eight years prior.
- Amy's delivery suit resembles the power loader from the movie Aliens.
- Plan Am is a reference to Pan Am, a former airline.
- A shot of the propeller-driven Plan Am plane flying in space references the exterior shot of the Boeing 707 from the movie Airplane!.
- Leela calls Fry and Hermes "Goofus" and "Ganja", a reference to Goofus and Gallant from the Highlights for Children magazine.
- The Plan Am plane is going to Acapulsar, a pun on Acapulco and the space object pulsar.
- Petunia asks Zoidberg to put on four episodes of The Office, a British and American television series.
- When the rock alien forms, it does so in a manner resembling the rock creature from Galaxy Quest.
- The design of the rock alien is based upon the Excalbians from the Star Trek episode "The Savage Curtain"; whereas Futurama's rock alien was fascinated by the concept of gender, the Excalbians were intrigued by the opposing philosophies of good and evil, and wished to see which was superior. Additionally, whenever the rock alien uses its teleportation powers, the sound heard is the Star Trek transporter effect.
- The rock alien asks for any of the twelve Desperate Housewives, which is an American soap opera.
- When Hermes asks LaBarbara what she is doing, she responds, "None of your bizmarkie".
- Hermes says that LaBarbara is making him "highly Selassie", a reference to Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, who is revered in the Jamaican Rastafari movement.
- LaBarbara calls Hermes a "big hairy Belafonte".
- After Bender is saved alongside the rest of the men, and the melted metal merges together to reform him, he says "I learned that from a movie", obviously referring to Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
- The design of female Scruffy's clothes resemble that of Cora in Fantastic Voyage. The same reference is made in "A Clockwork Origin", in which Amy's clothes are ripped in a similar fashion by the trilobots.
- Leela's line "thank God most of our fans are huge perverts" is an obvious reference to the Futurama fan base, and the many nude and semi-nude fan art pictures of the characters posted online.
- The Professor's girlfriend from "Three Hundred Big Boys" appears. This is her only cameo appearance except for the audience scene in Into the Wild Green Yonder.
- Dr. Cahill, who handled Hermes' head in Bender's Big Score, makes an appearance.
- Zoidberg tries a poor comedy routine aboard the Planet Express air plane. His passion for comedy, and his lifelong dream to become a comedy star has been seen previously, and was the focus of "That's Lobstertainment!".
- Bender once again makes out with a fembot house appliance (Amana).
- When Bender switches gender and becomes a fembot, it is in his female persona Coilette from "Bend Her", when he also switched gender.
- Fry posing semi-nude for the calendar while inside a cryogenics tube is a reference to him being accidentally frozen in the pilot.
- This is the first time that the similarly-voiced characters of Hattie and Petunia have a conversation. It is determined that Petunia's voice is a lower octave than Hattie's possibly due to smoking. Both are voiced by Tress MacNeille.
- Towards the end of the episode, when the Borax Kid returns the original genders, Scruffy is absent. He comes back later, still a woman, after the Borax Kid has left. In "Yo Leela Leela" Scruffy briefly appeared as a male.
- When the rock alien tests the Earthicans with questions, he asks about Desperate Housewives. It would seem, however, that, if he knew that show, he would have a clear understanding of the concept of genders (earlier in the episode, he has never heard the word). Of course, it's possible he was faking that since he really wanted to teach the humans to work together.
- The rock alien also slips up when he says he has no concept of gender (even being unfamiliar with the word), but in the next breath stating that his species has only one gender - a fact he wouldn't know if he really had no concept of gender.
- As quickly as he learned about gender, he could have created the name for his neutral gender.
- In this episode, it states that teleportation technology will not be invented for another 15 years, but in Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences the Professor creates a disintegration gun, which is actually a teleportation gun.
- When Planet Express was Plan Am, the Planet Express Ship had propellers on the engines, which would be useless in the vacuum of space. However, this may be a reference to the movie Airplane! using the sound effects of a propeller plane for a clearly jet-propelled airplane. The ship is also shown to have its ordinary propulsion after its refit, when it flies up and out the hanger - and onto a conventional 20th century runway strip.
Rock alien: Your genders differ in many ways. But as with all things that are different - chocolate and vanilla, Mac and PC - one is always clearly better.
Bender: Chocolate, Mac, men. The end.
Rock alien: Well, I've got nothing to do for the next eight million years. Therefore, I will administer a series of tests to determine the superior gender.
Hermes: Uh-oh. I think we're walking in circles. I recognise the pattern of striations on that Gibson formation.
Fry: Also, my shoe that fell off.
Bender: Oh, God. We're all gonna die in agony!
Small rock alien: Howdy there. You fellows need some directions?
Bender: No, we're fine.
Professor Farnsworth: Beat it.
Amy: It would've been nice to shop at Tommy Hilfiger one last time.
Hattie: It wasn't Tommy Hilfi-gigger. It was Linens 'n' Things!
Petunia: The hell it was! It was a Juicy Couture!
Leela: I guess we all saw what we wanted to see.
Fry: Wait. Why didn't that hurt? [Stretches pants to check.] Aggghhh! My wing-wang's gone!
Leela: My girls!
Bender: My antenna!
Hattie: My kajigger!
Zoidberg: My gonopores! [Slight pause in compilcation.] Look it up.
- ^ "'Our big season premiere on 23 June is a double-decker. We start off with “Neutopia,” (which is a combination of the words “neutered” and “utopia”), our crew crash-lands on an unknown world, where they meet a strange creature that is unfamiliar with the concept of gender. It leads to the alien modifying the genders of our crew members, giving us amazing re-gendered versions of them!" — Cohen, David X.
Cohen, David X. (16 June 2018). Cohen Spills the Beans on Futurama's New Season. Retrieved on 16 June 2011.
- ^ "Futurama Tops 10 Million Facebook Likes!". Comedy Central Insider. 08 February 2011. Retrieved on 03 May 2011.
- ^ io9: Exclusive Clip from Futurama's Season Opener!
- ^ Seidman, Robert (24 June 2011). Thursday Cable Ratings: Burn Notice, Swamp People, Suits, NBA Draft, Wilfred top Night + Futurama, Louie & More. (TVbytheNumbers.com.) Retrieved on 25 June 2011.
- ^ a b c d e f Schenkel, Katie (20 June 2011). "Futurama comes back … with a stumble". CliqueClack TV. Retrieved on 20 June 2011.
- ^ Marnell, Blair (23 June 2011). "FUTURAMA 6.14 'Neutopia'". CaveOnline. Retrieved on 24 June 2011.
- ^ Hinckley, David (22 June 2011). "'Futurama' review: Back after an 8-year hiatus with sharp social commentary and satire". The Daily News. Retrieved on 22 June 2011.
- ^ C, Nicole (23 June 2011). "Futurama Review: The New New Yorkers Are Still Funny". Poptimal. Retrieved on 24 June 2011.