Rebel with a Cause

Andor just changed Star Wars forever in one serious way

Star Wars is finally ready to grow up.

Star Wars is an epic story of hope, rebellion, and loss, but when it comes to certain subjects, it’s always been a bit tame. Yes, we’ve seen people get sliced in half by lightsabers, but we rarely see anyone kiss. The themes may be universal, but the stories are chaste. Until Revenge of the Sith, the Star Wars movies were all rated PG.

When the franchise pivoted its attention to focus on TV shows, it seemed like this sanitized version of Star Wars would remain the norm. Disney+ was always marketed as a family-friendly streamer, and The Mandalorian and its ilk had to reflect that.

But with its very first scene, Andor threw that assumption out the window.

Andor’s first scene shows Cassian in a seedy brothel.Lucasfilm

Andor opens with its hero, Cassian Andor, storming into what looks to be a brothel on the planet Morlana One. He asks one of the hosts if she’s seen his sister. She tells him that no one there uses their real name, casually confirming the establishment deals in sex work.

Later, we see Cassian’s friend Bix Caleen after a tryst with her coworker Timm. That scene is basically the first time we’ve seen Star Wars reckon with the fact people have sex, and that they even have it — brace yourselves — out of wedlock. Star Wars is finally showing that its characters want to (and can) have sex because they’re human. Or humanoid aliens.

Yes, we have seen evidence that lust is a personality trait. Being awkward and sexually frustrated is Anakin’s entire personality in Attack of the Clones, and Leia’s metal bikini in Return of the Jedi was clearly suggesting that Jabba wasn’t just holding her prisoner for her political clout. But while there have been references to characters experiencing desire, there’s never been a reference to anyone acting on that desire.

Anakin and Padme get married, and then Padme is pregnant. Han and Leia get married, and then they have baby Ben. Storks might have well been involved for all we saw of it. In fact, characters are often created rather than born. All the clones we got to know in The Clone Wars were mass-produced, Anakin Skywalker himself was “born of the Force,” and Rey was the child of a Palpatine clone. Sexless births are the norm, at least among protagonists.

Beyond the occasional kiss, Star Wars has been chaste.Lucasfilm

Andor is a sea change for Star Wars. After decades of skirting the issue, these characters are now allowed to be actual people with wants and desires. It’s quite the shift from The Book of Boba Fett, where Garsa’s Sanctuary (a supposedly seedy nightclub and cantina) never contained anything more vulgar than Max Rebo’s ears.

To be clear, you don’t need sex to tell a mature story. Go too far with it and you can make the opposite mistake of assuming that sex equals maturity. But if Andor wants to tell a serious story, then its characters need to be actual people, and many people have serious desires.

Hopefully, Andor will continue to explore the subject with its remaining 21 episodes, and change the standard for Star Wars in the process. It may mean more parental guidance for younger Star Wars fans, but after decades of playing for everyone, it may be time for Star Wars to grow up.

Andor is now streaming on Disney+.