Star Trek: Lower Decks and the Want to be Horny

DW discusses the recent “controversy” in the Star Trek community brought on by the latest episode of Lower Decks.

You know, initially, I had started writing this like my usual review/recap/analysis of Lower Decks episodes I’ve been doing all season, but this time I just couldn’t get anything on the page. The reason for this being that since “I, Excretus” aired, the entirety of Star Trek fandom has been wrapped up in a seemingly endless cycle of pearl-clutching. I personally haven’t encountered people I know saying anything like this, which is a nice feeling to know you’ve managed to curate your space well enough you don’t have to see All The Bullshit, but I have seen it around and frankly, Star Trek fans are taking the gold for Biggest Fandom Disappointment.

You may ask yourself, “What is so horrific in the eighth episode of Lower Decks S2 that the entirety of Star Trek fandom has been whinging for a solid week?” The answer is simply: horny. In “I, Excretus” there is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gag where Boimler, naked as the day he was born, is spread eagle with a censor bar over his genitalia. Which, yes, is still pretty explicit by Star Trek standards but the context is in a longer gag which is a reference to the infamous episode, “The Naked Now”. Which, I should note, is the literal third episode ever of the much-beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the episode, essentially everyone catches a horny frat bro disease and Tash Yarr has decided Data is her own personal human-shaped future vibrator. 

TNG is also the show that gave us one of my own personal favorite characters in all of Trek lore, Lwaxana Troi, the mother of the Enterprise’s counselor, Deanna Troi. The elder Troi is portrayed by Majel Barret, wife of Gene Roddenberry. Why is this relevant? Well you see, the most concise way to describe the elder Troi is MILF. Lwaxana Troi’s entire character is just being an absolute horndog cougar. A great example of this is in the Deep Space Nine episode, “The Forsaken” (DS9 S1 E17) in which she gets stuck in a turbolift with Odo and says some late-night Cinemax programming level things to poor awkward Odo. 

I bring all this up because pearl-clutching over all of this is just, beyond parody. The same folks who routinely complain about things like Michael Burnham’s entire existence, say The Orville is a better Trek show than Discovery, etc. are the ones saying that this display of outright horny is “not Star Trek”. This universe has been around for half a century at this point and the MOTHER of Star Trek, Majel Barret herself, made an entire second career out of playing “The Star Trek Milf” for a solid decade. Star Trek fandom has gone the way of the Star Wars fandom in a lot of ways, often aggressive cisgenders complaining that the shows are not tailored to their expectations and desires, while also very hilariously obfuscating the history of “their show” to cherry-pick what is and isn’t acceptable based on their specific and often vary narrow viewpoints. 

For a show that has spent over fifty years pushing boundaries and being lauded for it, watching this backlash has been akin to what I imagine case study researchers deal with on the regular. Hopefully, Star Trek continues to get increasingly more blatantly horny. Like hey, we have a whole separate paid streaming service we’re getting new Trek on exclusively, why not go full nonsense and give us the wildest stuff the writer’s room can come up with? It’s 2021 and these shows are set hundreds of years in the future, so personally, I welcome our new horny, weird, socially conscious Star Trek overlords.

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