So, going into STAR TREK LOWER DECKS, I joined the chorus of voices on social media absolutely laying waste to it after the abysmal trailer premiered online. I did not find it funny or entertaining in the slightest, and it didn’t capture my attention in anything that was positive. I couldn’t even bring myself to think that anything about it was “cool” or refreshing.
The Fandom Menace continued to pine the trailer and the very concept of the first animated STAR TREK TV series since the (literally titled) Animated Series in the 1970s. It seemed there was very little comedy that was being generated by STLDS (the official abbreviation which was a play after a scene in STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME). I held out zero hopes because everything that was pooped out by Alex Kurtzman has been nothing but garbage, including STAR TREK PICARD (also known as STAR Toilet Paper).
The concept behind STLDS was to decapitate THE ORVILLE as the premiere STAR TREK-esq “parody,” if you will, by attempting to copy everything that makes THE ORVILLE one of the best. While being a parody of the genre, THE ORVILLE actually pays the greatest homage to classic 1990s STAR TREK in every detail.
So, imagine my surprise when, after the premiere of STLDS, the Fandom Menace came out and accused the show being exactly that: attempting to cash in on the successful formula THE ORVILLE is using. I won’t point out specific members of the Fandom Menace at all, you’ll have to find their videos for yourselves, but one review painted the brush strokes of plagiarism that Kurtzman and crew are so used to using, detailing all of the similarities between THE ORVILLE and STLDS. A round table discussion on another channel invoked STLDS’s “wokeness” and how it shames the main white male lead at every turn. Another channel goes through the lore of the universe to detail why these people should not exist in Starfleet in the first place.
Well, imagine my surprise when I actually watched it…
…and liked it?!
Sure, the humor factor was near zero. I chuckled a little bit but I didn’t cringe like I thought I would. Of course, the creative team is following the woke character mandates of Alex Kurtzman, but I really don’t see much of that wokeness in the content. Sure, we have a couple of powerful women of color (spoilers: Ensign Mariner and her mother, the captain), but nothing that made me want to throw something at my TV the way STAR Toilet Paper or STD do. On the contrary, these characters are actually far more relatable than their live action counterparts!
Then, there’s the content of the story. What certain personalities in the Fandom Menace don’t seem to understand is that STLDS is not, in any way shape or form, supposed to be a parody of STAR TREK in general. It’s not supposed to be poking fun at the genre to any degree. On the contrary, it is a parody of everything the Fandom Menace complains about! Every joke, every aspect of the show takes a phaser, set to “piss them off,” and fires at point-blank range!
The way Mariner acts with Boimler is, by its very nature, what the Fandom Menace complains about: reducing the role of men, period-end. The excess in blood and gore that is mostly complained about (the dubbing of STAR Toilet Paper as “Murder Trek”) can also be a source of contention. Everything that is being critically panned by critics is precisely who the target of the parody is always complaining about. They even go far as to acknowledge it by censoring the swearing! That right there should tell you who they’re pointing the finger and laughing at.
Anyone going into STDLS thinking they’re going to get a funny romp through the Trek universe is tuning in for the wrong reasons. The “social commentary” is how everyone is taking entertainment way too seriously. In the actions of Mariner, we can see ourselves – the Trek fan who has zero regard for authority (zero regard for Alex Kurtzman and where he’s taking the franchise. Add to that, zero regard for her own mother, who is captain of the ship), but serves Starfleet anyway (us, the viewers). She is a plethora of knowledge that should be classified, like Genesis (STAR TREKs II and III), and the time travel mission that sent Kirk and crew back to the 1980s to pick up some whales to talk to a giant SlimJIm that threatens to destroy the Earth. She is the fandom. Boimler are the hardcore “Treksperts” who are always critical of everything. And everyone else is just along for the ride.
STDLS is a perfect parody of us. Their message, vis-a-vis Mariner: “lighten up!” I’m certainly going to be giving this series a shot.