How the current political climate has influenced Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery

On this day fifty-one years ago, the very first episode of Star Trek aired. Our culture, as well as Star Trek itself, has changed quite a bit over the decades which followed, and we're now mere weeks away from the premiere of the latest series to spring from Gene Roddenberry's creation. Much like its predecessors, Star Trek: Discovery won't shy away from tackling real-world issues through the lens of science fiction, in fact, Discovery's co-showrunner Aaron Harberts told Entertainment Weekly that the current political climate has proven to be quite the influence. The upcoming series finds war breaking out between the Klingons and the Federation, and Harberts says that the Klingons will help us look at ourselves by dealing with some ideological issues inspired by the 2016 electoral divide.

The allegory is that we really started working on the show in earnest around the time the election was happening. The Klingons are going to help us really look at certain sides of ourselves and our country. Isolationism is a big theme. Racial purity is a big theme. The Klingons are not the enemy, but they do have a different view on things. It raises big questions: Should we let people in? Do we want to change? There’s also the question of just because you reach your hand out to someone, do they have to take it? Sometimes, they don’t want to take it. It’s been interesting to see how the times have become more of a mirror than we even thought they were going to be.

Thanks to the serialized nature of the series, Star Trek: Discovery will be able to tackle these issues much more in depth than they would have otherwise. "The thing about the war is it takes Starfleet and the Federation and forces them to examine their ideas and ethical rules of conflict and conduct," Harberts said. "It provides a backdrop to how we want to be as a society and that analysis and self-reflection is new for Trek. They’ve done it in certain episodes in the past, but this is a true journey for the institution in itself." Fellow showrunner Gretchen J. Berg added that, "In times of stress and conflict it can bring out the best of us and the worst of us, but ultimately brings out the best in our Starfleet officers."

Currently shooting the thirteenth episode (out of fifteen), the producers added that President Donald Trump's dealings with North Korea have also been on their minds as they wrap up the first season. "North Korea is in our thoughts as we finish the series," Harberts said. "What began as a commentary on our own divided nation — in terms of Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters — has blown out to North Korea and how we’re right on the brink. [The U.S. is] actually right at the place where Starfleet finds itself in episode one and we couldn’t have anticipated that happening. But how do you end conflict when both sides have such strong opinions?"

Star Trek: Discovery will debut on CBS on September 24, 2017 before moving to CBS All Access.



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