As you’re deciding on what to binge this holiday season, I want to add a title to your list: Star Trek: Discovery. I’ve written about the series extensively, from recapping it every week to the representation in the show, but I haven’t delivered a straightforward piece that says what I love about it and why I think you should be watching it.
(1) This show has a lot of heart.
It took a while for Star Trek: Discovery to show its heart — after all, it had a huge job to do in a short amount of time, establishing plot, characters, premise, and more — but by the end of the third episode, viewers saw what the show was all about. The tender, sweet moments of the show are wonderful, from the enthusiastic Tilly calling Michael her mentor to Stamets teaching Michael about love (and how to dance).
(2) It involves fresh takes on old sci-fi tropes.
While Star Trek: Discovery is boldly going where no one has gone before, it will also head where every sci-fi show has gone before. In the first season, for example, there was a classic time-loop plotline, which we’ve seen again and again in our favorite genre shows. But the way Discovery told the story was so fresh and new that I’m really excited to see how the series tackles other tropes going forward.
(3) It’s a perfect entry point for those who haven’t ever seen Star Trek.
If you’ve never really watched Star Trek, that doesn’t matter for Discovery. You can jump into this show with little to no history with the franchise. To be successful, the series really needed to appeal to old fans while also not being so insular that it alienated new ones. It hasn't pleased everyone, but I think the show has done an incredible job with that difficult goal.
(4) The storytelling is incredible.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a show ahead of its time for its in-depth character arcs and serialized storytelling. Discovery takes inspiration from its big brother by continuing these themes; if I had to compare it to previous incarnations, I’d say it’s a cross between DS9 and Voyager. The story is incredibly gripping, and it takes twists and turns (and risks) I wouldn’t expect. What’s more, it’s fast-paced; storylines you think are going to be dragged out for a season are two are satisfyingly resolved within just a couple of episodes.
(5) Plot doesn’t get in the way of character development.
The worry with a plot-driven show is that the writers will sacrifice character development for the sake of plot. That doesn’t happen here; every major character on this show has gotten in-depth character development. They are each complex individuals, whether it’s Michael trying to figure out how to relate to humans or Captain Lorca deciding the end justifies whatever means are required. These people are flawed, but they’re doing their best, and importantly for Star Trek, they are a team.
(6) Sylvia Tilly + Michael Burnham = BFFs
The relationship between Sylvia and Michael is amazing. I fully expected Michael to find Sylvia's enthusiasm and awkwardness annoying — after all, it's "cool" to be jaded. But Michael embraces Tilly and they become close friends. Tilly even calls Michael her mentor, but that characterization of their relationship doesn't stop Michael from realizing there are valuable things she can learn from Sylvia as well.
(7) Saru and his food are adorable.
I love the alien Saru (played by Doug Jones), and I love his blueberries.
(8) It shows the normalcy of representation.
It shouldn’t be earth-shaking to see yourself represented on screen in this day and age, and yet it is. And Star Trek: Discovery does it in a way that centers inclusivity, but doesn’t toot its own horn. It makes this kind of representation seem normal. Of course there’s a gay couple on the ship, of course the lead is a black woman — because the societies we live in are diverse. Naturally, a ship that represents the best of humanity should reflect that.
(9) The timing is perfect.
As you may know, the show is behind a paywall, but the series just wrapped its midseason finale in November. That means it’s the perfect time to subscribe and binge the first half of the first season (nine episodes in total) before the show returns in January. I’d apologize for how hooked you’ll get, but really, I’m not sorry at all.
(10) The show has room to grow.
You might think that, because of my praise for Star Trek: Discovery, I think the show is perfect. It’s not, and I actually think that’s a strength. I love how this show not only reinterprets and reinvents what has come before it, but also tries to outdo itself and improve with every episode. Perfection is not a standard we should hold any media to, and frankly, if a show satisfied every expectation, it would be boring. I love Discovery for all it is, including how it’s imperfect.