A Skeptic’s Guide to Star Trek: Lower Decks

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Star Trek: Lower Decks concluded its freshman season last year, capping an uneven debut season on CBS All Access (now Paramount +).

Before we go further, I admit to being a staunch Lower Decks skeptic.

Another animated Star Trek? In the vein of Rick and Morty? Set approximate to TNG?

Compounding those worries was my own lukewarm reception to Star Trek: Discovery. Yet in 2020, a good comedy is always worth a try and so, as a healthy-but-fair skeptic, I tuned in.

Lower Decks surprised me. It was never perfect, no Star Trek ever was, especially in the first season, yet that somehow made its blend of reverential humor and genuine heart click for me.

I’ll say this: in a year as grueling as this one, a show crafted with this much heart (vague, nebulous, but unmistakable heart) is a winner. 

Lower Decks revels in homage to decades of Trek, always in service to our four misfit friends who adore and aspire to that very pantheon, without ever dipping into condescension or derision. I was worried that Lower Decks would be a Star Trek show that made fun of Star Trek for the benefit of non-Star Trek fans. I was mistaken. Lower Decks was meticulously crafted for Star Trek fans, even if it does ask us to check out our emotional baggage at the Holodeck doors (read as: it’s OK to laugh at all the lens flares).

Star Trek is about the journey towards our highest standards of ourselves. To overcome the follies of ourselves and our contemporaries.

Is Lower Decks a silly cartoon? Yes. Is Lower Decks my silly cartoon? Also, yes. 

“When you get to hell, tell the Pah Wraiths that Shax sent ya! Special delivery straight from Bajor!”