Social and television topic changes over time as seen through the lens of Star Trek
Star Trek the television series first debuted in 1966 as what is dubbed ‘The Original Series’ during which the costuming, role allocation and even ethical storytelling both reflected the socio-cultural context of USA, but also challenged and invited complex discussions about morality, ethics and rights. It, and the following original series, walked a fine line of being commercial enough to appeal to audiences as well as being true to the Science-Fiction genre in that it needed to engage in deep discussions about what it means to "be." ‘Enterprise’ was the last of the original broadcasts ending in 2005 before the success of the film "reboot" in 2009. The 2009 film ‘Star Trek’ reinforced a number of stereotypes and cliches that were disappointingly lacking in the nuance of the original series, and for a moment it seemed it was finished with again.
Then came the new television revival with ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ that not only again reflected the excitement and challenges of space exploration, but also touched on the same socio-cultural concerns current in contemporary society. It was a show that began to speak about issues we face in our own world. From here spanned out a range of new shows from ‘Picard’ to ‘Lower Decks’ that each began to broaden the world of Star Trek, but also found new ways to engage in important conversations.
An article looking at the different discussions, topics and socio-cultural confirmations and challenges across the timeline of Star Trek would be fascinating. It is one of very few shows to have spanned such a large period of time on television that has not simply reflected back social norms. I would be interested to see a deeper analysis of this topic.
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