After two seasons, The Orville has quite emphatically established itself and left an impact on the world of space-based science fiction television. What seemed at first to be little more than an homage to the episodic Star Trek formula has evolved into a riveting series that gets bigger and better with each episode. There are many reasons for this, although I'd argue one of the biggest things that has made the series great is its creation and use of the Moclans.
Whether it's Bortus and Klyden, or an episode centered on some of the unique traits of Moclan culture, The Orville has created a fictional race that elevates the show and the rest of science fiction. Hopefully any Moclan readers have made that annual trip to go pee, because we're about to dive in and talk about what makes these guys (and occasional girls) so great.
Moclan Culture Allows The Orville To Tackle Modern Social Issues In A Unique Way
Of The Orville's episodes that viewers may find the most divisive or relevant to social issues, many are related to Moclan culture. More often than not issues tend to arise from the species "all-male" race which prohibits the birth of females. Viewers have since learned that the "rare" instance of female birth within Moclan culture is not all that rare, and the lie is propagated by the Moclan government.
It's not hard to see how the issue parallels to human issues in modern society, and yet, The Orville has nuanced it to the point that it feels incredibly foreign. In essence, the series has created a way to tackle relevant issues in society, while at the same time adding enough layers that it doesn't feel too personal. Granted, some will find a an excuse to take issue with anything, but The Orville does a decent job keeping issues tied to its universe.
Which is a great way to start a conversation towards addressing the complex issues The Orville references in our everyday lives. Enabling viewers to disassociate with modern issues and presenting them within a fictional context allows for dialogue without things becoming too personal, which often is a detriment towards conversation. If we can eventually agree on what does and doesn't make sense in Moclan culture, perhaps common ground can eventually be reached in what makes sense in human culture.
Bortus And Klyden Provide A Refreshing Take On Marriage In Space
Bortus and Klyden aren't the only couple to have had marital issues in space, but they certainly present a more realistic viewpoint of the struggles of marriage than sci-fi has in the past. Bortus and Klyden are the perfect couple that always seems to be on each other's nerves but still has each others' back. It isn't perfect, but no marriage is.
Couples have fights, and sometimes, they can get pretty ugly. Granted, the kind of fights that end in a brutal stabbing in the real world often have legal consequences, but Moclan culture comes through yet again with the weird customs that protected Klyden in Season 2. Even so, Bortus and Klyden persevered and are still working on their marriage despite all the hurdles that they have faced.
Their dynamic, and The Orville's handling of relationships in general, is a great example that sometimes it's fine for the sci-fi to take a back seat. While some shows make romance or inter-couple dynamics a subplot with the space stuff front and center, The Orville has found a way to balance both in a meaningful way that gives both equal spotlight. No disrespect to Ed and Kelly and others, but Bortus and Klyden is the best Orville relationship.
They Are The Embodiment Of Issues That Exist Within Multicultural Politics
Any time Moclan issues rear their head on The Orville, it's safe to say a bulk of the human crew is ethically against many of their customs. In fact, Ed typically does try to stand for what's right within the context of human rights, but is often reminded that the Moclans are part of the Planetary Union, and that standing in the way of their customs could mean war.
While it's true The Orville is far from the first sci-fi series to showcase that kind of conflict, the subject matter is typically so personal that it's hard not to understand where Ed is coming from as a viewer. The Orville's crew didn't want Bortus' daughter to have a sex change if it wasn't Bortus' will, but was it really worth pissing off one of the biggest military forces in the galaxy?
It just feels so much more personal on The Orville, and to me, makes it so much easier to understand why international politics are such a tricky field to navigate. It's never easy, and answers aren't as obvious as some folks would believe. The Moclans are a great example of that, and will surely continue to be well into the show's future.
The Orville Doesn't Always Take The Moclans Seriously, And That's Good
For as dark as Moclan-based story lines can be on The Orville, there's been plenty of times that the series has used Bortus and Klyden for comedic purposes. It's a different approach to what Star Trek has done with Klingons, for example, who are mocked far less often in comparison. To be honest, this is a case where Star Trek could learn from The Orville.
In being able to laugh both with and at Bortus and Klyden, it gives an emotional investment that makes their stories all the more intriguing. Klingon death rituals are a cool spectacle and all, but when have one of those scenes ever matched the emotional weight of when Bortus revealed in couples counseling he never forgave Klyden for Topa's sex change? Those moments aren't emotional without alleviating the tension tied to their characters I believe, and more science fiction shows could benefit from making their serious warrior races less serious from time to time.