Published Jul 29, 2021
Below Deck with Lower Decks: Star Trek's Optimistic Future
Series creator Mike McMahan and star Tawny Newsome share how Lower Decks keeps the optimistic Star Trek tradition alive.
By StarTrek.com Staff
There’s a key ingredient that makes all of Star Trek work — optimism. As our world exists in a tumultuous place and time, Star Trek reminds us that a better future is possible if we work together to reach it. Both Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Discovery have taken serious looks at how to build a better future, while Star Trek: Lower Decks takes a more lighthearted approach toward the same goal.
Still, Mariner, Boimler, and the rest of the crew on the U.S.S. Cerritos embody the Starfleet values that have defined the series since day one. They just put a humorous spin on things, while still fitting in with Star Trek’s hopeful outlook.
“Comedy is not exactly known for being full of despair,” said series creator Mike McMahan when asked about how he blended comedy with Star Trek’s particular brand of optimism. “Nobody goes to a standup tragedian to hear about how we're all going to get washed away. Comedy is optimistic. Comedy finds the funny stuff. Comedy looks for the little cracks that were always there and kind of breaks them open. Star Trek is all about finding personal truth, historical truth, and scientific truth — those are the kinds of Roddenberry things. Comedy is the same thing. It's just presented in a way that's going to make you spit your drink back into your cup.”
Series star Tawny Newsome also pointed out that Star Trek has always been funny. “Start with Data taking standup lessons. Obviously, Mike made [Lower Decks]. But just reading it, it instantly made sense to me because I was like, ‘Oh yeah, it's always been funny.’ [Our show] is just kind of a highlight reel of all of the funny."
From the camp and one-liners of The Original Series to those cheesy episodes of the other series that we can’t help but love and laugh with, Star Trek has always had a dash of humor amidst the important lessons they’ve passed along to us. McMahan and the Lower Decks crew have just tapped into the humor that’s always been there to blend it pitch perfectly with the optimism of Star Trek. The series is just another example of infinite Star Trek diversity in infinite combinations.