Star Trek: Picard
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Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Daj Asher (Isa Briones). Credit: CBS

What's up with the vaping and swearing in Star Trek: Picard? Showrunner Michael Chabon explains

Contributed by
Feb 11, 2020

So. You’re a Star Trek fan. You love the original series. The Next Generation. The spinoffs. The films. So, naturally, you’re watching Star Trek: Picard. And you dig it (despite the critics saying its pace is a bit sluggish). But… you’ve got some nagging questions. Questions like: Is Raffi seriously vaping? And, shouldn’t modern-day devices look more futuristic in the year 2399? And what’s up with the swearing? 

Fortunately, series showrunner Michael Chabon has answers. 

Chabon posted a nearly three-and-a-half-minute video on Instagram answering the most frequently asked questions he’s received on the CBS All Access series. In doing so, he sheds some insight as to why Commodore Oh wears sunglasses even though Vulcans have an inner eyelid (their home planet does have three suns, after all), why Rios still enjoys tobacco in a galactic society that by now should know better, and, most importantly, why there’s still swearing in a near-perfect future utopia.

The thing is, although many of the questions are — let’s be honest — a bit trivial and nitpicky, Chabon’s answers are for the most part quite thoughtful… probably because his team has thought about many of these questions a lot while shaping the show (though he tells fans to figure out the answer to the sunglasses question themselves).

Why do sunglasses, vape pens (excuse us, “horgls”), and earbuds look so contemporary? Because “some fundamental objects and tools evolve an ideal form … and afterward change very little.” Why do characters swear? “No human society will ever be perfect, because no human will ever be perfect. The most we can do … is aspire to perfection. Until that impossible day, s**t is going to happen. And when it does, humans are going to want to swear.” (Chabon’s full answer is actually longer and more detailed; we’re just giving you the condensed version.) Pretty philosophical for justifying an F-bomb!

Chabon also offers up some nice explanations for why that one Romulan Admiral on TNG told Data he knew of “a host of Romulan cyberneticists who would love to be this close” to him if Romulans loathe synthetic life (we warned you: nitpicky) and why Raffi gets away with calling Picard “JL.” 

And he doesn’t stop there! Chabon is more than happy to continue answering fan questions in the comments section of the post (though, within reason: one fan asks about what to expect in future episodes, and the Picard showrunner reminds him that that would be telling). 

Star Trek: Picard is streaming now on CBS All Access.


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