Hot TV Robots: Futurama’s Bender
The shiny metal robot goes on a legal fight for human-android relationships.
And, believe me, no artificial being is more animated than Bender Bending Rodriguez, of Futurama
“This is a simple matter of justice, which I'm not normally for. So please, vote yes. After all, our love isn't any different than yours, except it's hotter, 'cause I'm involved.”
The product of Matt Groening (of The Simpsons) and David X. Cohen, Futurama dearly loves to play with just about every cliche of science fiction: aliens, mutants, heads in jars, suicide booths, starships, intelligent parasites, virtual reality, cybernetic implants and, you guessed it, androids.
Well, robots, if you want to get nit-picky as Bender (voiced by John DiMaggio) can in no way, no-how pass for a human. And he’s fine with that, thank you very much—or, as he likes to say you can “bite my shiny metal a**.”
While other artificial life forms might be sweet and innocent, Bender is anything but. Leela (voiced by Katey Sagal), his co-worker at Planet Express, sums him up perfectly: an “alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking gambler.”
And that’s why we love him.
So why is Bender here? As any fan of Futurama can attest, for every moment of hilarity the show also either plucks at a heartstring (damn them for Jurassic Bark) or tickles the intellect.
With Bender, Futurama delves into more than a few issues around artificial intelligence—and artificial intelligence and sex. Putting aside the silliness that robots in Futurama have genders, or in one episode they reproduce sexually, Bender still raises a lot of interesting questions.
One is that Bender was created fully conscious (in one episode) and is supposed to be equipped with a back-up unit: his digital consciousness can be transferred to another body if he were disabled. In that same episode, Bender learns that, ooopsie, he never received one of those units, leading him on a bit of artificial soul searching when he realizes he’s not functionally immortal.
As with The Simpsons, Futurama also enjoys exploring social issues. In “Proposition Infinity,” Bender and another co-worker, Amy Wong (Lauren Tom) develop a relationship—and rouse the ire of those who feel that “robosexuality,” sex between a robot and a human, is wrong.
Bender’s appeal before the court is as playful as it is touching and sincere:
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury… Oops! Sorry, force of habit. I support this proposition because I'm in love with a goopy, flesh-and-blood woman, and not surprisingly, she loves me. This is a simple matter of justice, which I'm not normally for. So please, vote yes. After all, our love isn't any different than yours, except it's hotter, 'cause I'm involved.
When you boil it down, though, it’s in spite of—or because of—his nature that the other characters on Futurama actually care about, or even love him. This is what makes his appearance here too perfect.
In the end
Futurama might be for laughs, but as with the best humor, there’s a truth underlying it all: love is love—though with Bender it’d be much, much hotter.
Do you have any favorite sexy androids on the small screen? Share them in the comments below.
In the meantime stay tuned for Part 4, where we’ll look at the beautiful—yet disturbing —synths of Humans.
Image source: Sasa S.