Star Trek: The Sex Generation
This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #119. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.
A tongue-in-cheek but also painfully earnest look at pop culture and anything else that deserves to be ridiculed while at the same time regarded with the utmost respect. It is written by Matt Marrone and emailed to Stu Horvath, who adds any typos or factual errors that might appear within.
I’m sure the subject of sex in Star Trek, particularly but not limited to The Next Generation, has been written about in a million thesis papers and in fanfic and possibly even here in the pages of Unwinnable.
I refuse to Google it, though, because I am the still the Rookie of the Year, after all, and I wouldn’t want research to get in the way of the wide-eyed innocence I know brings you all back to this column, month after month after month.
So let me begin with an assertion everybody knew before I discovered it when I recently stumbled into a binge-watch of season one:
Star Trek: The Next Generation is horny.
Really, really horny.
Exhibit A is First Officer William Thomas Riker. Riker is good-looking enough, and he’s clearly got it together. He wants to be a Starfleet captain and you can already see he’s built for it. So, sure, I could see how Deanna Troi (and her cleavage) could have some sort of still-simmering past with him. And I get that his authority and ambition inspires not only respect but some interstellar twitterpation. But he is clearly emitting pheromones we can’t detect through our TVs, because when he walks by, the uniforms practically melt off the female members of the crew.
But that’s not all Riker’s fault. As I said, the ship is horny. He just happens to be at the right place at the right time.
To wit: Through just 10 of the 25 episodes in season one, the crew of the USS Enterprise has already:
- Reeled as an alien virus created a sense of intoxication and loss of inhibition in an episode called “The Naked Now.” This leads to several main characters nearly jumping each other’s bones – and in one case, it famously happens, though bones might not be exactly the right term for what gets jumped. We find out Data, our favorite friendly android, is indeed fully functional in every way, “programmed in multiple techniques, a broad variety of pleasuring,” which he proceeds to share with a very grateful – and later, quite a bit more coy – Lieutenant Tasha Yar.
- Been to a planet called Rubicum, er, Rubicun III, which is like a sunnier, more wholesome Eyes Wide Shut. The Edo exist as if a soft-core porno procreated with a Raisin Bran commercial. Even young Wesley Crusher believes – with a nervous gulp – that he’s about to be deflowered on the lush green grass when he meets an under-aged blonde and her two male playmates. On this planet, Lieutenant Worf is asked by Riker if he plans to bed any of the local ladies; Worf replies that to do so would be to tear them apart. He explains it has to do with the intense physicality and strength of Klingon sex. Riker jokes that if any other man had told him that, he’d think he was bragging.
- Seen Worf teased with sex by Q, in a scene in which Riker, given Q’s powers, presents as a gift a scantily-clad Klingon woman who lustfully crawls up the ramp of the Enterprise’s bridge. Worf ultimately resists her advances but when he’s asked by Geordi La Forge whether this is his idea of sex, Worf responds, “This is sex!”
- Nearly witnessed an all-nude Betazoid wedding – for which we learn the groom’s middle-aged father has been practicing for in front of a mirror – which is only called off when the groom spurns Troi to run off with the blonde alien of his dreams. Though not before the two share a romantic twilight kiss on the Holodeck.
- Watched as Yar is forced to fight to the death with the betrothed of a ruthless (and hapless) Ligonian lord. Yar doesn’t want to kill the woman – and hence become attached to the lord herself – but, inexplicably, she sheepishly admits to being attracted to him. Data, could you maybe spare a few minutes?
And so on.
Obviously Star Trek had long used space exploration to break taboos before, most famously Kirk and Uhura’s interracial kiss during the original run. But for broadcast TV in 1987, it seems fairly progressive in its attitudes, particularly when it comes to female sexuality. The ladies of the USS Enterprise – whether it’s Troi for Riker, Dr. Crusher for Picard or Yar for . . . anyone – want to get it on. Badly.
This makes sense for a group traveling through the void of space for days, weeks, months and years on end. But I started with the pilot and only got a few episodes past the ship’s, ahem, maiden voyage.
At this rate, the season two premiere would have to be a wet T-shirt contest that turns into a ship-wide orgy.
But since I haven’t gotten there yet . . . is it?
Matt Marrone is a senior MLB editor at ESPN.com. He has been Unwinnable’s reigning Rookie of the Year since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm.