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RED DWARF: Dave Lister - The Man Who Fathered Himself

In this week's Red Dwarf column Andrew Jero pays tribute to Dave Lister.

 Dave Lister
The Man Who Fathered Himself

The main character of the series, David Lister, had a troubled childhood. No parents, nothing to look up to, he was adopted but when his adoptive father died he went and lived with his grandmother. He went to art college for one day and left when he found out that he’d have to attend classes first thing in the afternoon. Lister signed up to work on the Red Dwarf after he’d woken up on the moon Mimas, drunk with no money and needing to get back to Earth. As the lowest ranking member aboard the Red Dwarf he had minimal expectations for himself, and wasn’t going to the top.

Throughout the first two series his life focused on hating Rimmer, it drove him, gave him something to do. Series III came along and Kryten became the exposition on legs which gave Lister someone to talk to besides the Cat. Lister, along with the Cat, are the only two characters in the series that appear in every episode. Lister is often angry with Holly because he brought Rimmer back as a hologram instead of someone he actually liked, though the two often fight they stick their necks out for each other.

In the episode Balance of Power, Lister takes the Chef’s exam so that he can be a higher rank than Rimmer and order him to give him Kochanski. Lister uses learning drugs, and when Rimmer questions him about them he tells him that he found them in his locker. In later series Lister matures minimally, when the crew is resurrected in Series VIII he insists that Rimmer wouldn’t even recognize him, that he’s more debonaire.

The two most essential episodes for the character are Ouroboros and Father’s and Suns. In Ouroboros, Lister meets up with an alternate Kochanski (now played by Chlöe Annett), and exchanges supplies. But when his GELF bride returns the channel to her universe is severed and Dave has to save her, he does so in a painful way. Kochanski has an invitro tube that needs his contribution, Lister gives her the tube and a baby is created. It takes a little while for him to realize who the baby is, but when he sees the insignia on the battery crate that represents infinity, he then realizes that he is the baby, he is his own dad! By putting himself in the box under the pool table he created an unbreakable circle that keeps the human race going forever, pretty powerful stuff when you consider that this is a situational comedy.

Father’s and Suns brings up the information we learn from Ouroboros, that Lister is his own dad. Rimmer suggests that he’s never been a good father to himself and that he should think about that. Lister gets drunk and records some advice from him to himself. The scene is hilarious and really ties up Listers life, complete insanity.

The character of Lister is a good role model for young adults. Now I know he smokes and drinks and swears a bunch, but his is completely comfortable in his own skin, he is content with being the lowest member aboard the ship because at least he’s moving towards his dream of a farm on Fiji. As a young adult myself, I often find I can connect to characters better when they have the ability to be themselves and not give a smeg what anyone else says. It’s an important lesson that the show brings that sets it apart from other situational comedies. It’s okay to be who you want to be, difference is awesome. Individuality is the key to a happy life.

Red Dwarf also addresses race rather brilliantly, by not addressing it at all. Instead of this guy coming from Europe and these guys coming from Africa, they’re all from Earth. They are human beings. They don’t fight amongst themselves instead they have to deal with the rest of the universe, instead of the immature “oh no! Look out it’s a black one!” (or fill in whatever you like), it’s “Oh smeg, it’s the human beings. Don’t go to Earth, they’re contagious.” Which is something I think we as a species should think about, we’re all mammals, we’re all the same, equal, human. This approach the show has is the biggest reason I love Red Dwarf as much as I do. It takes your mind off of the things we’re subjected to and turns us into a single entity, it’s quite powerful really, and Lister is the character who more than any shows us that. He, despite his shortcomings is the representative of the human race.

Smegging Brilliant
The World loves a bastard!
A look at Kryten 2X4B-523P
Five fantastic moments with the Cat

Andrew Jero is 18, lives in Iowa and has a very strong love of both Red Dwarf and Doctor Who. He enjoys acting and writing plays, television scripts, and short stories. Follow Andrew on Twitter.

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