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Fri Feb 22, 2019, 04:45 AM

Comparing Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville's Big Gay Episodes (possible spoilers)

There has been quite the schism building in the Star Trek community these past few years. Since debuting around the same time in late 2017, both CBS All Access' flagship series Star Trek: Discovery and FOX's Seth MacFarlane comedy The Orville have been competing for the love of Trekkies everywhere. While Discovery’s focus on serialized storytelling and movie-quality look seems to be driving the franchise in a new direction, The Orville’s episodic structure makes it feel like the classic, '90s Star Trek: The Next Generation. And this juxtaposition of new and old visions for Star Trek-like stories has sparked debates within the Trekkie community.

Both shows centered LGBTQ storylines this past week, and comparing the flaws and successes of each of them reveals a lot about how far we’ve come—and how far we have to go—when it comes to queer storylines on TV.

On The Orville’s latest episode "Deflectors," celebrated Moclan engineer Locar (guest star Kevin Daniels) reveals his attraction to Lieutenant Talla Keyali (Jessica Szohr), a woman. The problem is Moclans are a predominantly male race and Locar’s attraction to a woman like Talla is condemned by and illegal in Moclan society. After kissing Talla, Locar’s sexuality is discovered by the Moclan Klyden (recurring star Chad L. Coleman), the husband of Locar’s ex-boyfriend, Lieutenant Bortus (Peter Macon). An outraged Kylden promises to report Locar to the Moclan government. Locar fakes his own death and frames Kylden. In the end, Talla discovers Locar’s deception, and convinces Locar to face punishment rather than let an "innocent" man (Kylden) face charges. Our final glimpse of Locar finds him being dragged out of a Moclan courthouse in cuffs.

The Orville has featured several stories revolving around Moclan society, including a flawed but well-intentioned intersex/gender discussion last season. In each instance, Moclans prove to be incredibly close-minded, forcing unconsenting surgeries on female-born children against their parents wishes, as well as condemning any sexualities or interspecies relationships outside of the male Moclan-only romances. "Deflectors" ends with The Orville’s Captain Mercer (Seth MacFarlane) reflecting on how long the Moclans' backwards views can be tolerated in utopian society.

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