Stargate Universe was a different kind of Stargate show when it premiered in October 2009. It came on the heels of 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1 and five seasons of Stargate Atlantis — the latter of which was cancelled prematurely. SGU took a more serious approach to storytelling, following the sorrows and momentary joys of a crew trapped on a derelict alien ship millions of lightyears from home.
As has been documented on this site in years past, while many long-time Stargate fans embraced the new take on the franchise the young series also faced an intensely negative reaction from others. The characters on the screen, as it turns out, weren’t the only ones suffering: members of the cast were also made targets of viewer outrage.
“We weren’t very welcomed into the Stargate community,” Huffman said. “We got protested. People were picketing our studio. I got spat on. People were like, ‘Go home, bitch! We hate you!’ And was like, ‘I just want to feed my kids.’ It was a bit of a slippery slope.”
More recently, though, she said that fans who once opposed the show have spoken with her about finally giving it a chance. “More so now, ten years later, people are like, ‘Oh, I actually watched the show and I really like it. I didn’t want to like it; I protested …'”
“I think the thing is that you can’t compare it” to the Stargate shows that came before it, she said. “It’s a different show, and it’s supposed to be a different show. … I get it, but I think you have to compartmentalize and say it’s a different show and a different experience. You can appreciate the experience and not negate your love for the other [shows].”
In spite of the producers’ plan for a 5-year story, as well as their long track record of delivering quality content and a devoted fan base to Syfy Channel, Stargate’s third live-action TV series didn’t make it past its second season. And while ratings were certainly a challenge in 2010 (and the network made the ill-fated decision to move the show out of its popular Friday night block, in favor of pro wrestling), Huffman believes the numbers were not the sole reason for SGU‘s cancellation.
“We didn’t get cancelled because the ratings were bad,” Huffman said. “People were watching it. … We got caught up in this trifecta, this perfect storm: MGM that year was filing bankruptcy. Syfy was rebranding, and they did a lot of reality content after they cancelled our show.”
She’s right on both counts. MGM filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2010, right when the network was choosing to cancel the series. And after SCI FI rebranded as “Syfy” in 2009, its programming choices and media interviews with executives made it clear that the channel was hoping to appeal to a broader audience by steering away from traditional, hard science fiction.
Huffman also suggested that putting the show on an online streaming service was floated as a possibility, but here too the timing was not right. “The creator[s] of the show, Brad Wright and Robert Cooper, had at one point (prior to doing it with Syfy) thought about streaming — like going straight to Apple,” she said. “But it was just too premature. It was before Netflix was doing anything streaming; it was before Apple was actually making content.
“So yeah, it ended. And I moved on, and everyone else has moved on.”
“Stargate was like a dream show,” Huffman said. She also noted how well the job fit into her life, with young children, when she won the part a decade ago.
“Honestly, one of my main reasons for signing on to it was — [first] it paid what I wanted (that’s a good criteria for taking a job!) — and we were stuck on a space ship,” she said. “So when I read the script … I was like, ‘I’m going home at 7 p.m. on Fridays!’ Because we work really hellish hours and I have four children.”
Looking back on the series today, she suggests that viewers go back and appreciate Stargate Universe for what it is.
“It’s a really good show,” she said. “If you haven’t watched it, honestly I suggest watching it. Any show that you watch, it takes a minute to get its grove. And I just think there was a negativity to begin with. But if you go back and you watch it unbiased, you’ll really enjoy it. It’s a really well-written show. It’s beautiful.”
“It was a great show to work on. I’ve made life-long friends, I’ve traveled all over the world and met fans. I’m very proud of it.”
Alaina also talks about her start in modeling and on the SCI FI Channel show Painkiller Jane, as well as her work on Smallville (where she played Black Canary) and Supernatural (as Abaddon). She also talks about developing new projects, the actor’s grind of auditioning for jobs, and discovering X-rated fan fiction written about her characters.
Since the interview was conducted, Alaina was cast in a recurring role on The CW sci-fi drama The 100.
Check out the complete, 17-minute interview at SideWalksTV.com. (Alaina talks about SGU starting around the 7:00 mark.)