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Star Trek: Lower Decks' Showrunner Offers Delightfully Insightful Response To Fans' Issues With Paramount+'s Trek Shows

Star Trek: Mission Chicago was a major event for the storied science fiction franchise, and this is especially true for the team behind the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks. A chunk of the cast, along with showrunner Mike McMahan, got to see their fans in person for the first time since the Paramount+ show premiered, and the creative team certainly felt the love. Unfortunately, with that love came a bit of disparagement in regard to other recent Trek productions, which prompted a delightfully insightful response from McMahan.

While Lower Decks’ panel at the convention was a largely positive one, the Q&A hit a light snag when a fan approached and asked showrunner Mike McMahan if he’d work on any of the other Trek series to ensure they honor and adhere to canon as well as Lower Decks has. After a mix of cheers and groans from the crowd, McMahan noted before answering that this question was “a trap” but went on to give a wonderful response to fans’ issues with the franchise's Paramount+ shows:

Here’s what I’ll say about that. I know that everybody’s got their favorite Star Trek show, and that’s always been a part of Star Trek. Everybody else is always wrong about what their favorite Star Trek is. . .We went through this period of time where Enterprise was gone and we hadn’t gotten movies yet, and that was a horrible time. And then, the new movies started coming out and the new series’ came out and the world feels like a worse place if there isn’t Star Trek in it.

Mike McMahan perfectly pegged the fandom with his first statement regarding how there’s not much universal agreement on which series is the best. Some loved the changes Discovery (watch Seasons 1 through 4 with a Paramount+ subscription) made to canon, while others hope that Strange New Worlds is more faithful to the original series’ aesthetic. These types of disagreements take place among fans (and even actors like George Takei) all the time. But as McMahan mentioned, it certainly seems like having a lot of Trek is better than having no Trek at all.

The Star Trek: Lower Decks showrunner continued on by stating that he loves all the currently airing shows and how they tackle the main challenge the original series first tackled way back when (a sentiment shared by Gene Roddenberry’s son, Rod). Mike McMahan talked about the making of the original series and how that tradition continues with each new installment that arrives:

If you go back and you read about writing TOS and making TOS, they didn’t know what Star Trek was. They were making Star Trek for the first time and every show is making Star Trek for the first time. In some ways, the other Star Treks that are on that I love in all of their own ways, those are all making Star Trek for the first time. It’s like getting TOS again with new brains in a new era and I really, really, love that they’re doing that.

It may sound confusing, considering all Trek is beholden to past installments, but it’s not hard to see the producer's point. Over the years, every series has had a different premise provided audiences with a different lens through which they could view forward-thinking ideas. To ensure this remains a franchise that looks to the future, the shows must start over in some ways but continually evolve. 

Of course, of all the new Star Trek shows coming in 2022 and beyond, it’s fair to say Lower Decks gets less radical when it comes to changing canon or characters. Mike McMahan explained how his show makes it easier to honor and observe past canon and how that could change if he joined one of the live-action shows:

Lower Decks, because it’s a comedy, because it’s animated, it’s very reflective. When you go to Second City and they’re making jokes about Chicago, they know a lot of the audience is from Chicago. When we’re making jokes on Lower Decks we know the audience is from Star Trek, right? And, if I was making a live-action show that wasn’t a comedy, I don’t know if I would be as reflective on the previous series’ because it’s better to have new Star Trek. Like, I always want new Star Trek. I never want people to be punished for that…I love different Star Treks. I would say if there’s a Star Trek you love right now, awesome. Please watch all Star Treks.

His lengthy response ended with applause from the audience, who seemed to agree with him. At the end of the day, the franchise is about as rich with content as it's ever been, and perhaps fans should be grateful for that above all else. Of course, they can also look forward to the possibility of new shows continually changing and offering fresh stories for their favorite actors like Jonathan Frakes (who loves Star Trek: Lower Decks). Plus, if the producers ever want to bring back cast members from other shows like Deep Space Nine, there would need to be plenty of shows to offer them the opportunity (though it will take more than that) to appear, right? I personally appreciate Mike McMahan's sentiments and, honestly, who would’ve thought the showrunner of Trek’s raunchiest show would be the one to lay things out so eloquently? 

Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 3 will arrive on Paramount+ (opens in new tab) this summer. Hopefully, fans will be pleased to see more from Boimler and the gang -- and prepared for more potential surprise appearances from former Trek actors.

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.