The Orville

RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,393 ✭✭✭
This Star Trek parody created by Seth McFarland is only three episodes in and I was not expecting it to actually tackle serious subjects in the same way as Star Trek. I just thought it was going to be a typical parody.

That said, I don't think this series handled it very well. In Star Trek when they had an episode dealing with racism between an alien with black on the right and white on the left and another alien from the same species who was white on the right and black on the left the episode very clearly made a blatant reference to the same thing happening on Earth thousands of years ago. In that episode it's said as something from the past that humans no longer tolerate. They used obvious parallels between what was happening in the episode to comment on the issues of the time.

The third episode of the Orville deals with an alien race who is entirely male. It's said that a female is born about once every 75 years and being female is viewed as a genetic deformity. The entire episode revolves around the argument of if the child should get corrective surgery to be like every other member of her species or to be raised as the only female on a planet of entirely men.

Now here's where I feel they didn't handle the topic very well. The episode kind of hurts it's own argument for three reasons.

1. Even though they're a single gendered race and we're a binary gendered race there is still a clear comparison to make with our society that is never brought up.

There is a rare condition in humans where a child is born with both male and female genitals. Much like the aliens in this episode when such a child is born we would normally perform corrective surgery on the infant to make them one or the other. The parents basically get to choose for their child what gender they're going to be for the rest of their life. It's the same thing, the norm is for a child to be born as male or female not both so when a child is born as both they're forced into corrective surgery which is barbaric. For this alien species the norm is for every child to be born male so to see a female for them is the same as seeing someone with both genders for us.

The episode never makes this comparison. Even though they're trying to make a statement about such things being done to an infant it's never referenced. Most people still only think that everyone is either male or female. People who are both are hidden and shunned from our society in the same way women are for their species. I think without a direct reference to that comparison most people are going to misinterpret the message of this episode to be about sexism against women rather than sexism against intersex people. They hammered in the idea that this species just hates women but not really the idea that women are as rare for them as intersex are for us.

2. The whole idea of the episode was to show that performing an unnecessary surgery on an infant is unethical which I think we can all agree with. The problem is that at one point in the episode they reference another unnecessary surgery performed on infants and actually defend it as if it were completely different. It's not ANY unnecessary surgery regardless of what it is should be illegal without the consent of the person being operated on. If you want it done as an adult that's your business, but to force your views of what the body should look like on an infant, that is unethical.

Of course the reference I'm referring to is circumcision. The doctor who is a woman I might add, objects to performing an unnecessary surgery on a perfectly healthy girl but is totally OK with performing unnecessary surgery on a perfectly healthy boy. I wander, if the aliens were all women and the baby in question was born as the only male among them if she still would of refused the request for a sex change. I honestly feel like the only reason they defended this child's rights is because she was a girl. If the situation had been reversed would anyone care?

3. And this is the final point where the episode failed. Spoilers, in the end the girl does end up getting the sex change. I wanted her to stay a girl. I can't believe they actually went and gave an infant a sex change. I understand the point of episodes like this is to make the audience feel uncomfortable but they didn't need to end it that way. They could of made people feel uncomfortable and still had the more happy ending instead of this whole argument being an utter waist of time.

The thing is, the being uncomfortable comes from early on in the episode when you're unsure of the child's fate. Once you know the child's fate then it's no longer felling uncomfortable, it's just feeling angry because things didn't go the way I wanted them to. If she had been left alone I would of transitioned from uncomfortable to relief instead of from uncomfortable to anger.

I'd be more angry if she was a real child who had a real surgery. That's kind of a relief knowing she's a fictional alien in a tv show but I am still kind of angry because stuff like that does actually happen to real people. Not exactly turning girls into boys but as I mentioned earlier, making intersex children into male or female or cutting off perfectly healthy foreskin for no reason other than "because society deems it normal" it's messed up, it's seriously messed up. Just leave people intact. I don't care if you're boy, girl, intersex or whatever, it's your body, your choice. Having that choice taken from you as an infant is the worst thing that could ever happen to a person.
Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!


  • AdamTheAlienAdamTheAlien Canby, Oregon/Tacoma, WashingtonPosts: 36 ✭✭
    The third episode was actually what sold me on The Orville. I think the episode did exactly what some of the best episodes of Star Trek, and the best sci-fi in general, have always been designed to do: to make you think, to the point of not necessarily feeling comfortable at the end of the episode.

    Was it perfect? By no means. But it tackled some things on a level that most mainstream shows, especially broadcast shows (especially Fox shows), are usually too afraid to even attempt.

    The Orville doesn't try to depict itself as quite the super perfect society that Star Trek likes to at least attempt to be. Its world, and its characters, are far less perfected than Star Trek. It's closer to our present world, which allows different opportunities to touch on things in a different way. For instance, I don't think we were supposed to take the circumcision issue as automatically assuming it's okay. Heck, even if that's the intent, it still doesn't have to be the takeaway. I think that moment will make some people who are presently okay with it, who see it as the normal thing to do, stop and think for a moment. I know plenty of people who are just like those characters: they'll balk at the idea of forced gender conformity, but don't understand people who speak out against circumcision.

    The ending, too, was something I appreciated, even if it broke my heart. Perhaps all the more because it broke my heart. Rather than take the optimism to the level that everything turns out hunky-dory, it went the route of showing that this is an issue we're still struggling with, and that no single incident —no single case, no single argument, and no single episode of a single TV show, either— is likely to truly sway a society in and of itself. Moreover, while things did not end up ideally, it still left us with that glimmer of hope for the future.

    I think that's the message we need right now: there's a lot of suck in the world, and none of it's going to be fixed quickly (no matter how impassioned the arguments or evidence). But that doesn't mean we can't still keep pushing to make the world better. And even though the child, and the child's family, were left with less than ideal circumstances and fodder for future problems, there's still hope for that child to have a good life, and maybe even find their own identity in a future that will hopefully be better than their society's present.

    You're absolutely right that intersex humans could have been brought up as a point, and I'm disappointed that they weren't. I don't know why they ddin't; I suspect it was either a lack of awareness on the part of those making the show, or maybe a step too far for Fox to handle, or maybe everyone involved thought it might be over the heads of their audience (it's entirely possible that this show's mixture of crude humor AND social commentary is an attempt to slowly break through on some topics with an audience that would normally be more unreceptive).

    Maybe I'm giving it too much credit, especially as this is the first thing from Seth MacFarlane that's interested me in a while, and the best thing that I think has been made with his name significantly attached.

    But I do think the discomfort, and the act of leaving us uncomfortable, was an intentional effort at forcing people to think complexly. It was an episode that at least touched on a number of issues, from feminism to trans rights to, yes, circumcision. And because it did not provide easy answers, viewers are forced to think about it more, talk about it more, and maybe, just maybe, move the real world in a better direction.

    Star Trek's view of having conquered many social ills is great. I love it, and I aspire to make our world more like it. But in going that route, Trek doesn't always have the best ability to really make people think, and many will even point out that Trek still has social woes they're not dealing with, which become more apparent as each installment grows older. The Orville has a chance, if they don't waste it, to address social matters in a more complex manner because things aren't perfect, even in the human society.

    It's much easier to judge an alien society when it's not up to the standards set up by the humans, and that leaves us with a fairly problematic mindset that could well fall under the category of colonialism. It takes a lot more effort and acknowledgement of the complexity of the world to have the conflict take place among societies that are all imperfect in different ways...including the human society.
    - Adam J. Manley
  • RialVestroRialVestro Posts: 6,393 ✭✭✭
    I still think it was a poor attempt to be like Star Trek. They shouldn't be trying to be Star Trek, that's what Discovery is for. It should just be a parody like Space Balls to Star Wars.

    I think the real Star Trek series could of handled the plot a lot better. With humans still being imperfect as you say it causes a counter productive argument where both cultures are equally terrible but they're both trying to impose their will on the other. That doesn't work. You have to be able to demonstrate a better alternative and they totally failed to do that. Hell some times even when an alternative is presented people still refuse to admit that their way is wrong.

    Anyway episode four was a little better. Though now it reminds me of Doctor Who because so many generations of people have lived on what looks like a farm that they eventually forgot they were actually on a space ship. And oddly I think they did this better on the Orville.

    The people who doubt the word of the creator are basically Atheists. I like the twist at the end that their God was actually just the ship's original captain. I've always thought that if there ever was a God or gods that they were probably aliens with advanced technology since highly advanced technology you can't comprehend is indestinguishable from magic.

    I can't remember the passage but my dad pointed out something in the bible that could easily be a description of a UFO landing rather than a God descending from the heavens. This was years ago so he might not even remember it.
    Ni, peng, nee-wom! Ecky, ecky, ecky, pakang, zoom-ping! Baa weep grahna weep ninny bong!
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