Since the debut of “Star Trek: Discovery” in 2017 on CBS All Access, fans have been treated to special effects, costumes, ship designs, and makeup only available in feature films. Some fans have not been happy with the changes that “Discovery” brought about. There has been pushback on these innovations, including the serialized storytelling, or telling one long story through 10 episodes or more, rather than the ‘planet of the week’ formula, which most Trek shows have used since 1966.
In the wake of the massive success of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” it did make a good deal of sense to try serialization for “Star Trek.” “Discovery” also followed in the wake of the highly successful “Battlestar Galactica,” which thrived by telling serialized stories. This was a change for the franchise, as previously, the only Trek show to do a serialized story was “Deep Space Nine.”
Some of the other areas of backlash from a particular quadrant of fans include the lack of development in characters besides Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) that the characters besides Burnham are not relatable, and the inconsistent use of technology (for which the turbolift in Season Three was a primary culprit). Another big complaint was adding “Discovery” to the Trek timeline before “The Original Series,” which makes everything much more complicated.
As Angelica Jade Bastién wrote for New York Magazine’s Vulture, “how can any ‘Star Trek’ series be forward-thinking if the franchise itself is so committed to revisiting its distant past?” This may have been why the writers of “Discovery” decided to push the show into the 31st Century at the end of Season Two.
One of the biggest complaints of those who do not enjoy “Discovery” is with all the crying and the ratio of male to female cast members. While some dislike these developments on the show, others, especially social media, are delighted with DISCO.
Comments like the above are commonplace, and many fans are happy that “Discovery” has a feminist angle with many strong female characters.
This should not be surprising. A 2016 survey found that the majority of “Star Trek” fans are women. Perhaps this is why in the upcoming season of “Discovery,” all four positions of leadership on the ship will be occupied by women — a first for the Trek franchise.
Is Star Trek “for girls?”
Many have written that “Star Trek” has always been about equality and supporting all kinds of people. Some point out that the shows were very sexist through the years (Seven of Nine’s catsuit leads the way here). But with “Discovery,” fans hear the word ‘feminist‘ associated with their favorite franchise more and more. Stories by Salon, Bustle, and The Chicago Tribune state this very plainly.
“I love that our female characters’ gender never holds them back in their minds or in the minds of their colleagues,” said Heather Kadin, a former producer on “Discovery,” Kadin said this and more for a piece in The New York Times.
‘Discovery’ is Not Within Gene’s Vision
One of fans’ most significant points of contention is that “Discovery” betrays Gene Roddenberry’s vision. While this might be true in the realm of special effects and ship design (see the video above), Gene himself might have something different to say.
“In the years, I have grown into something of a strong feminist,” Roddenberry said in “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History Of Star Trek,” as written by Ed Grossman and Mark A. Altman.
“I was the product of a Southern family background,” said Roddenberry. “My parents never spoke of any race with contempt. They encouraged me to try strange ideas and philosophies.”
In this same book, Leonard Nimoy recalled that Roddenberry’s view of women did evolve while working on “Star Trek.”
“His attitude toward women on Trek were miniskirted, big-boobed sex objects — toys for guys,” said Nimoy. “He cleaned up that act gradually only because people pointed it out to him.”