If you don’t like ST: LOWER DECKS but still want to ENJOY it, here’s what you can do…


If you’re one of those people who can’t understand why folks like me and many others absolutely love STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS while you just can’t accept it as Star Trek, I might have a simple solution for you…

Just think of it as a holo-comedy-adventure sitcom set in the late 24th century!

Seriously, this makes so much sense if you think about it. Many of the complaints I hear about this satirical animated series center around the issue that not only does the show not take itself seriously, it goes overboard in…

  1. Making fun of Star Trek and Starfleet and most of the races we know from the various series, and
  2. Presenting totally unrealistic and unbelievable scenarios that would never happen in “real” Star Trek.

In other words, it’s too stupid/ridiculous/nonsensical to be taken seriously as part of Star Trek canon.

Fine. You win. It’s not canon. Have a beer to celebrate.

So if Lower Decks isn’t canon, then what is it? Well, maybe it’s the 24th century equivalent of a sitcom. I mean, we already know there’s lots of holodeck entertainment by then—everything from murder mysteries to Victorian romances to campy 1940s black and white sci-fi classics. So why NOT a satire about Starfleet and the Federation, its allies and enemies, its most famous officers, and its most well-known missions?

After all, in the future, folks like Kirk and Picard and their crews are probably pretty well known, like the star players of the top sports teams are today (assuming you like sports—and one would assume that officers in a future Starfleet would be just as well-versed in the most famous officers and their missions).

Of course, I know there’s gonna be people out there who say, “Yeah, but the show is just so inane! Why would anyone want to waste their holodeck time on something so stupid? It’s not even that funny!”

Hey, if you personally don’t think Lower Decks is funny, that’s fine. You do you. I personally think the show is hilarious and brilliant, so please don’t assume your opinion is fact. Different people find different things funny.

In fact, comedy comes in all shapes, sizes, genres, and styles….from a classic like Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night to the raucous slapstick of the Three Stooges. Comedy can range from the dry subtlety of Monthy Python to the riotously raunchy Benny Hill. American TV sitcoms evolved from I Love Lucy to Dick Van Dyke to All in the Family to Friends to The Office. Heck, at one point in time, television’s comedies included (during the same years) Three’s Company, Taxi, and M*A*S*H…how’s that for variety! From crass comedies like Married with Children to more erudite sitcoms like Frasier, from Saturday Night Live to In Living Color, and from The Flinstones to The Simpsons to Rick and Morty…comedy caters to many different tastes and audiences. So why wouldn’t at some folks in Starfleet want to tune in to Lower Decks?

But you wanna hear something mind-blowing? Lower Decks isn’t simply a comedy…

Taking a few random examples from my previous list of TV’s “great” comedies—let’s choose I Love Lucy, The Flintstones, M*A*S*H, and Friends (wow, what a combination that is!)—these characters aren’t necessarily stuck in time. Lucy and Ricky got pregnant and had a child. So did Ross and Rachel and, for that matter, Fred and Wilma. Candler and Monica fell in love and got married. And M*A*S*H lost three major characters in short order, replacing each and shifting the tone and tenor of the comedic (and dramatic) scenes that were written. Indeed, each of those changes I just listed resonated in shifts to what those sitcoms could suddenly do and what they could no longer do. Colonel Potter wasn’t as easily fooled as Colonel Blake. Pranks on Charles Winchester were significantly different than those on Frank Burns.

Of course, sometimes the characters on sitcoms don’t change or evolve much, like The Simpsons or the Dick Van Dyke Show. But when they do, those subtle changes can be fascinating to watch and analyze (rather than simply laugh at). And such is the case with Lower Decks.

What a difference two years makes! Top: a scene from the first episode of season one. Bottom: a scene from the first episode of season three.

Maybe you’ve noticed and maybe you haven’t, but the officers on board the U.S.S. Cerritos—from the ensigns up to the senior officers—are evolving as characters. Mariner and Boimler aren’t the ridiculous “odd couple” they started as. (Jeez, I forgot to mention The Odd Couple!) Tendi and Rutherford are growing as characters, too. Mariner’s relationship with her parents is certainly evolving. And we’ve learned a lot about the “upper decks” characters along the way, as well.

In some ways, this evolution is inevitable. Just as happened on Next Gen, DS9, and the other Trek series, more stories and more dramatic moments helped to better define the characters for both the writers and the actors. The Jean-Luc Picard or Benjamin Sisko of season one was vastly different by season four and even more different by season seven. And the same thing is happening—if you pay close attention—on Lower Decks.

The show also works on an even deeper level. This sitcom has a message for viewers if they take the time to look for it: the “little people” (ensigns) can often do very important and heroic things as they work just as hard—sometimes harder—than the higher-ups. But in the end, the ensigns are expected to pay their dues and usually aren’t acknowledged for their contribution. On the other hand, their relative anonymity allows them to get away with some amazing stuff, and they often get out of trouble by the mere fact that nobody notices them or takes them very seriously. Aren’t they a bit like you and me?

And of course, you can just sit there and try to find all of the many, MANY Star Trek easter eggs hidden (often in plain sight) inside each episode.

Do ya see the CBS logos?

So even if you don’t find Lower Decks funny (although it’s seriously hilarious!), then watch it for those evolving characters, their growing knowledge and experience, and their interrelationships. I really think you’ll find some of the nuances fascinating. Or watch it for the underlying themes and messages. Or just try to count all the references to Star Trek history stretching back five and a half decades!

And as I said at the beginning, if you simply can’t bring yourself to believe that Lower Decks is canon, then just repeat to yourself: “It’s just a holodeck sitcom. It’s just a holodeck sitcom. It’s just a holodeck sitcom…” and then sit back and relax.

(Oh, and don’t ask why the season three premiere features three different styles of Starfleet uniform…including two different admiral styles. Remember: it’s only a holodeck program, and programs can glitch!)

17 thoughts on “If you don’t like ST: LOWER DECKS but still want to ENJOY it, here’s what you can do…”

  1. I like the idea conceptually for fans who are struggling with the show, though I don’t know how well it will hold up to the announced Strange New Worlds/Lower Decks crossover next year.

  2. Ok, so to continue your analogy, it’s the Star Trek equivalent of M*A*S*H, or The Phil Silvers Show (who’s the bigger hustler, Quark or Bilko?), McHale’s Navy, or any other sitcom that uses a vaguely military backdrop for its comedy.

    It’s a workplace sitcom, that just happens to take place on a Federation starship in the late 24th century.

  3. I feel impelled to note why I don’t watch the show. It’s not any of the things you mentioned. It’s not the plot, the characters, the humor, canon or lack thereof. It’s the visuals – especially the characters.

    Mind, I have nothing against cartoon characters – I still enjoy Bugs Bunny, Rocky, Bullwinkle and many others. The Lower Decks characters as drawn do not interest me in the slightest. They strike me as being drawn by people who don’t understand how to give characters emotional depth.

    I do recognize that’s my problem and no one else’s. Those who enjoy it should ignore what I’ve written.

    1. I suppose my only question would be: Have you tried watching Lower Decks, and the art style was just too impactful for you, Jerry? Or have you never seen an episode because you THINK you won’t be able to tolerate the artwork?

      Frankly, I didn’t see the Filmation style allowing for much emotional depth of characters either, but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying episodes like “Yesteryear” and “The Slaver Weapon.”

  4. Well, I guess I can toss my 25c worth of opinion into the pile. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I gave it three episodes. (The very first, then two that were “highly recommended.”) Here is my list of things I find very off-putting about it. #1, “Blue humor”. I don’t find it funny. Neither does my Wife. #2, It’s just too “frenetic”. We’re not epileptic (thankfully) but if we were… a warning about possibly triggering an attack should precede each show. (Of the 3 we watched.) #3, Some really over-the-top cartoon gore scenes. Yes. It’s a cartoon… and it even happened in the cartoon holodeck! (Double removal from reality! LOL!) But seriously… in every other live-action Trek, when a holodeck character dies, they just fizz out and are gone. If slashed with a blade, the slash sparkles and then the character fizzes out. They don’t scream in agony and spurt holodeck blood everywhere, waving slashed and bleeding stumps about! That happened in one of the 3 episodes we watched. We were both really put-out by it, and decided then & there that this is NOT the show for us. Finally, #4, noticeable (despite being “bleeped”) obscenities. So… yes, humor is definitely in the eyes of the beholders. We just don’t appreciate the KIND of humor being used here. We may be in the minority, but I’m quite sure we’re not the only ones who feel this way. We both LOVED Prodigy, and look forward to Season Two… and also Strange New Worlds! Both excellent! Now… the 3’rd season of Picard? With the TNG crew reuniting? Well, if they stay away from the 4 things we disliked about Lower Decks… (Seasons 1 & 2 really didn’t.) We shall see. ๐Ÿ™‚ Live Long & Prosper, Y’all!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Not my cup of tea personally. Don’t like the animation style. Humour is hit & miss at best. Do enjoy the Easter egg tributes. Can take it or leave it really. Maybe a rewatch may alter my opinion somewhat but will never be a Favourite. Much prefer live action. Thinking the SNW Crossover is a mistake & a waste of one of the limited ten episode run for that series which I love. Jury’s out on that one til I see it but am not optimistic. Wish it was a Lower Decks episode rather than a SNW episode or a Bonus episode not affecting the 10 episode season run of SNW.

    1. Yeah, I’m not a fan of the googly-eyed character art, either… but that’s the least of my complaints about it. I wrote a longer comment, earlier. It just ain’t my cuppa tea.

  6. Speaking of the Lower Decks/Strange New Worlds crossover, I had the notion that Mariner and co show up at the same restaurant that Spock and T’Pring were at in the SNW pilot, and encounter that same snooty Vulcan waiter.

    Rutherford has no problem with the menu, despite it being in Vulcan, thanks to his cybernetic implant.
    Boimler dithers for a few moments before deciding “I’ll have what he’s having.”
    A 75% drunk Mariner delcares, “Meh, whatever’s good.”
    But poor Tendi is struggling to make her mind up.

    “Perhaps something from the children’s menu?” suggests the waiter, archly.
    A mortified Tendi makes her excuses and flees to the Powder Room, closely followed by a fuming Mariner.
    The boys are now quite angry, no one makes fun of their friend (except them)!
    Very quietly, very firmly, and in flawless Vulcan (implants again), Rutherford tears the waiter a new one.

    Mustering what dignity they have left, the boys leave, collecting Mariner and Tendi as they do so.
    But Mariner, being Mariner, and also by now being *very* drunk, can’t resist a parting shot.
    “Hey! Snooty McSnooty Pants!” and moons the waiter, by extension the whole restaurant, and has to be dragged away – cackling madly – by Boimler and Rutherford.

    1. Good writing there, Ronnie, although I don’t believe that Vulcans offer alcoholic beverages. Getting drunk is highly illogical…especially on a planet known for high temperatures and low humidity (alcohol is a drying agent, removing water from the body). Also, I doubt Rutherford would ever purposefully insult anyone. Boimler might do it by accident, but it’s really Mariner who would go for the Vulcan’s emotional jugular…assuming he even has one. ๐Ÿ™‚

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