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The Orville - Season 1 Episode 3 (*SPOILER WARNING*)
bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
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Chris said the following in the Thread Locks Too Soon thread and now that I've finally seen the episode I see what he means. This is mostly rambles because I'm too upset to organize my thoughts. For the record, I've been 100% sober for like 16 days in a row now so you can't blame this on alcohol (in fact, one might even make the argument that if I were drunk right now this might have been better organized).

Episode 3 is EXACTLY like one of the best TNG episodes.

Unfortunately it's so much like a TNG episode that it's practically plagiarism. :P I also happen to call the episode's "moral" argument into question as well. I was hoping that Seth MacFarlane producing it would have meant that it pushed boundaries, but instead it played right into the social justice narrative. That disappoints me. The worst part is that while Star Trek caused me to expand my horizons and open my mind because it actually made valid points, S1E3 of The Orville left me frustrated that they didn't actually make a valid point.

Within the TV series an alien "race of all men" and presumably all black people are portrayed as ignorant, barbaric, immoral, and closed-minded (and sexist). The episode then highlights the female alien who is extremely strong despite appearances, which was a perfectly reasonable character mechanic until it was twisted into this sick narrative of modern day social justice politics. It also generally just preaches about how amazing and totally every bit as good as men women are (pretty much ignoring the very real differences between men and women, which is dumb). And though they fully accept this "all male" species who consider females "icky" on the ship, they suddenly take offense to them wanting to have a birth "defect" in their own child altered to fit with their species because it happens to be offensive to other species to consider females "inferior" in any way.

They took the time to compare it to circumcision and "a human being born with 3 legs", and how it wouldn't be controversial to have a leg removed just because alien species have 3 legs. These I think were valid arguments to make. Instead though, they just said, "that's different" because reasons and moved on with the narrative that gender is just this universal idea. Completely ignoring that gender differences vary widely by species even here on Earth and is in no way a universal concept (e.g., in many species on Earth, females are much larger, stronger, and dominant over males). That doesn't make females always superior, or always even equal, and certainly not always inferior. Sometimes there are differences though, and it's annoying for a show with such pure inspirations to be so biased and wrong.

The Moclan species is developed a lot in this episode. It reminded me so much of Klingons it was sickening. So much so that for the first time I realized that the "species" was effectively cast as black people (men, except for the temporary baby and the one cave-dwelling "woman" they pulled out of their ass). Until Episode 3 it hadn't even occurred to me what race the actors were. This episode broke the immersion and forced me to notice. Don't even get me started on the incredibly racist concept of "alien" species being limited to a particular human race actor at all. Humans have many races, but aliens? They're always the same. You'd think in 2017 we'd be a bit more imaginative than that. I imagine they also can't do that because it would necessitate certain "uncomfortable" subjects about the differences between human races.

The Moclan species are portrayed as closed-minded, ignorant barbarians in this episode. Complete with an ignorant home world and "tribunals" to settle disputes. While that could have been used for humor to great effect since it's basically a ripoff of Klingons from Star Trek, they seemed to miss the opportunity because they were too serious about the politics. I didn't catch any intentional lines to draw attention to it, which would have actually justified the episode somewhat.

I would have been fine with it if it challenged political correctness and actually made some sort of sense or even a valid argument even just within show's own universe, but instead it's just a cheap, force-fed, modern day Feminist narrative. Which I really wouldn't have expected from a show produced by MacFarlane. This gives me concern about where the rest of the show is going to go, but I'm not giving up on it yet. I'm assuming Fox forced this on them, but who knows. Hopefully that doesn't become a normal thing.

The reason I don't think they made a valid point is because this species is introduced to us as a single-gender species. They are all male. This also makes homosexuality pretty much normal for the species. I think that's interesting and valid, albeit a little bit nonsensical (how can you have a binary gender in a species with only one gender?). To their credit, despite the homosexual relationship, the characters are not very stereotypical of "gay" human men in popular media at all (i.e., feminine, flamboyant).

Since the species is all male it could make sense for a "female" birth to actually be considered a biological anomaly/deformity, and if they're able to "fix" it (and they are) there's no real reason not to. In fact, it's even revealed that one of the baby's parents was born female and was also "fixed" at birth. With no negative ramifications. The person is a perfectly healthy individual, both physically and mentally (his "mate", as they refer to their "spouse", didn't even know he was born female). The parent that had the gender "fix" after birth also happened to be the one fighting to have the gender "fixed" in the newborn baby right through to the end of the episode without question.

Which shouldn't really be all that controversial for a species of all males. They're naturally all males. It isn't that they secretly slaughter females in the hospital nursery or something like that. They reproduce asexually (..or was it homosexually? I don't really remember the details, but I don't think they went into many of them...). It's not even clear if a female could reproduce, but what is clear is that they appear capable of completely realigning the natural "gender" with surgery to the effect that the individual would never even realize that they were born female if not told.

A female of their species probably shouldn't even be biologically possible, but the show's writers went there so it's a thing now. In truth, they probably shouldn't have even described themselves as "male", but rather genderless or something along those lines. I assume they referred to themselves as male because the show's creators/writers had this arc planned from the beginning, and apparently they're too lazy to work out the bugs. I didn't care at first because the show is meant to be funny and so I didn't want to take it too seriously, but since this episode wasn't very funny and was far too serious I am forced to care now.

The idea that a "male-only" species having a "female" seems nonsensical to me, sort of like a human being born truly genderless. I don't mean people that identify as genderless because they're "different" and feel like a special snowflake. I mean, biologically, mentally, there is absolutely no evidence of sex or gender whatsoever. I don't even think we can imagine such a thing with any level of feasibility because gender is so natural to our species. There are male traits and female traits, but we can't really describe what it would mean to have neither. Human sex/gender is perhaps not binary or even single-dimensional, but it seems to always exist and influence us in some form or another.

In the end of the episode, the "ignorant", "unenlightened" Moclan species tribunal chooses to "fix" the baby's gender anyway despite the reasonable final argument of there happening to be a very famous woman in their society hiding right under their noses (the universally accepted "greatest author" was actually a female). Roll credits. The argument they were basically trying to make is that there's no telling what being "different" might mean for the child, comparing it directly with the Rudolf the reindeer story, to the point of actually watching the classic movie in the show... No real lesson is learned from them just deciding to do the surgery anyway. Nobody is even really upset by it. The parents, who became divided on the subject, just accept it and move on. As apparently does everybody else. Well, OK, we tried, that baby is a boy now, oh well, move on. What the Hell was the point of this episode? It wasn't very funny, though it had the odd good joke, and the narrative was just dumb.

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As an aside to this rather disorganized rant, there is a moment in the episode where the "super strong" alien woman beats up the "Moclan" father in a boxing match (see above) to make him see that women don't suck (yeah, it's a retarded plot since this man is already fully aware of what she is capable of...). Obviously, in real life the actors are more stereotypical. The "Moclan" actor is a rather large black man, and the "super strong" woman is a tiny white girl. Through "movie magic" she punches the man and he goes flying across the room into a wall. The expression on her face the moment after this is priceless. Acting so proud of how tough "girls" are. Of course, the director might have encouraged her to act like that, and I'm not faulting the actress here necessarily. It's just so cheesy that I can't handle it..

/rant

Chris Katko
Member #1,881
January 2002
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I don't have time to read all of your huge post yet. =D But I think the episode was somewhat successful because it tried to paint both sides as valid. The fact that LIBERALS hate the show for the episode for not being liberal, and you (while not "conservative"--certainly anti-SJW / liberterian) also find it revolting, seems like you're both missing certain pieces or reacting to certain pieces using your experiences.

So in a way, it feels like it wasn't so much "ripping off TNG", but All in the Family or some other TV sitcom from the 70's/80's/etc that dealt with modern, social issues and tried to represent both sides as real people.

It's only the THIRD episode ever in the series. So if it felt "too much" like TNG, I would say maybe they're still trying to find their footing (since the first two were much worse in execution). Remember, the first SEASON of TNG is almost unbearable. Remember Tasha Yar's "crying" scene. Oh. My.

But this episode does remind me of (but is TEN TIMES more fun) than that episode of TNG where Crusher falls in love with the guy whose people commit suicide at 40. They paint both sides as different, valid cultures but still throw morality in. I still love the concept of that episode, but in execution, it feels way too slow and boring.

As for Orville the "HA I found a woman!" Deus Ex Machina part at the end was the only part I felt cliche and overdone. It's almost identical to the TNG episode where Picard finds the old female servant of the house of Moag, and sets Warf's father honor correct. Where Picard goes "AH HA!!" and reveals her. "What? A... WO-MAN?!" basically the same reveal.

It's possible they did the 3rd episode like TNG just to get more audience. Remember, they're trying to establish a footing. So they might do "TNG" episodes, and more episodes like other styles on a regular basis.

I'll read the rest of your post later and we can continue the discussion. Episode 4 is very much like TNG though not as shocking, morally impressive, or epically climatic due to the implications for society. It felt like a Sliders episode.

Also, if you haven't watched Rick and Morty, it's like Futurama with a two drink minimum + Back to the Future. It's AMAZING and has like 100% ratings on most reviewers.

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