Posted On May 3, 2018

The Worldview of Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville, Part One

by | May 3, 2018 | Theology

Fans of previous Star Trek series have a couple of new options for their television viewing. The official one, Star Trek: Discovery, has been the object of derision from multiple angles. Most notably, it’s exclusively on CBS All Access in the United States, which requires a monthly subscription fee. Secondly, there’s this species whose faces look like overpriced shopping mall chocolates who are given the name “Klingons,” a name previously associated with a species which embodied a high sense of honor and was capable of such feats as making facial expressions. According to one YouTube commentary, these “Klingons” are supposed to represent President Trump supporters. Also, the reason why the series’ black female protagonist is completely unlikeable is because we’re all racists.

Oh, um… trigger warning! Sorry about that.

the Orville, as in the ship itself

The Orville / FOX

Official Star Trek franchise aside, there’s another player in town: The Orville, created, written mostly by, and starring Seth MacFarlane, who is best known for Family Guy, which is not funny. MacFarlane is long known to be a fan of Star Trek, having featured various Star Trek cameos on Family Guy, and himself having been a guest on Star Trek: Enterprise.

While Star Trek is known for espousing and promoting Gene Roddenberry’s vision for a secular humanist utopia, The Orville obviously hasn’t had nearly that amount of time to establish itself. Nonetheless, the show began in its infancy to get preachy, dare I say more preachy than Star Trek. In this and one more blog post, we’ll look at a couple of episodes, one which lays out an affirmative case for its worldview, and one where shots are more overtly taken against Christianity.

Lieutenant Commander Bortus, a member of the single-gender Moclan species.

At the beginning of episode two, the ship’s Second Officer, Lieutenant Commander Bortus, a member of the single-gendered Moclan species, requests a leave of absence from his duties due to his having laid an egg. It is necessary for him to remain with the egg for the 21-day gestation period. Okay, so this is kind of weird at this point, but hey, it’s a single-gender species, and this is science fiction, right? At this point, I’m thinking that the kids only have one parent. Nope. Bortus has a same-gender mate named Klyden. Then the child hatches, and it’s a girl!

🎶 If you're wondering how a man lays an egg, 🎶 And other science facts, 🎶 Just repeat to yourself, 'It's just a show, 🎶 I should really just relax.'🎶 Click To Tweet

We learn in the next episode, entitled “About a Girl,” that the Moclan species is single-gender largely because a female is born only every 75 years or so. Being female is considered an illness, and medicine now has the ability to convert a child fully and biologically from female to male. According to Moclan culture and tradition, this must be done in the interest of the child. Given the difficult logistics of getting the Orville to the Moclan home planet to have the procedure done, Bortas asks the ship’s medical officer to perform the procedure. She adamantly refuses. Captain Mercer rejects Bortas’ appeal to order the doctor to perform the procedure on legal and ethical grounds.

 

Amidst some diplomatic complications when Bortas separately called upon a Moclan ship for help, two of Bortas’ shipmates invite him to watch the old classic stop-action movie, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. And yes, this is part of the show’s humor. Bortas realizes as he watches the show that just as Rudolph was allowed to keep his nose and he did great things as a red-nosed reindeer, so also his child should be allowed to remain female. So Bortas then approaches his mate, Klyden, and tells him that this sex reassignment surgery would be a mistake. Klyden — who acts emotionally as the effeminate partner and also went through the reassignment surgery as an infant — disagrees, and amidst this conflict, the dispute ends up being heard in a Moclan tribunal on their home planet.

Bortas and Klyden argue whether their newborn daughter should undergo sex reassignment surgery.

So everybody goes down to the planet Moclus for the tribunal. Bortas testifies under questioning from a Moclan attorney that the child should be able to make her own decision whether to change genders over and above societal concerns for being a public nuisance and object of derision and disgust, even if the damage may be already done by the time the child has developed enough of a sense of self to make that decision conscientiously.

More witnesses take the stand on behalf of Bortas. Let’s hear this out.

This is a female Xelayan. She’s crumpling up the judge’s titanium gavel. See, women can be physically strong.

This is a human male. He’s an idiot. See, men can be idiots.

Then while questioning Captain Mercer (Seth MacFarlane), the Moclan attorney likens the proposed procedure to correcting cleft palate or circumcising males. You can imagine there was some Family Guy level non-humor at this point.

Well, this is getting nowhere. But behind the scenes, the crew of the Orville manages to find a star witness. The star witness, advanced in years, walks slowly and proudly with a cane into the tribunal chambers. It’s a Moclan female named Haveena. Nobody in the room had seen a grown Moclan female. Maybe now we’ll get some moral clarity.

Haveena, an unaltered Moclan female.

Haveena testifies that her parents decided not to convert her, as to do so would be an offense to nature. So they took her far into the mountains and built a family home in seclusion and taught to read and to wonder. She is a happy woman without regret, and the tribunal must not be allowed to take this gift away from this child. Upon ridicule and questioning from the Moclan attorney, Haveena blasphemously quotes from the planet’s most cherished author. Amidst the attorney’s outrage, Haveena reveals that she is the author; she has been writing under a male pen name. Though living in seclusion, she had made great contributions to society as a woman.

The Moclan attorney sits, appearing shocked and morally defeated.


So let’s recap. Here’s why women are worthwhile and should not be forcibly converted to being males according to The Orville (the show, not the ship).

  1. Women should be free to make that decision for themselves.
  2. Women can be as strong as men, so long as they’re the right species or maybe do CrossFit or something.
  3. Men can be idiots.
  4. Women can be great contributors to society while remaining as women.

Are we missing something? The Bible teaches that in the beginning, God made them male and female and in His image. Not every woman contributes to society in the exact same way, but there is a certain way in which women have uniquely contributed to society since the dawn of humankind which men never have and never will: bearing children! Not only has the image of God been removed and replaced by “don’t offend nature,” however one wants to define that, The Orville conveniently removes from women the one thing that men literally never have and never will do, and that is the honor of bearing a child! Herein lies the creative genius of using a science fiction platform to advance one’s worldview. One can literally edit the facts of science within a narrative to fit one’s argument. Reality is that men cannot mate with men to have children, men cannot bear children, men are biologically stronger than women, various members of both genders—all two of them—are idiots, both men and women can be prolific and beneficial authors, and surgery cannot change a person’s sex or gender. And by taking away such a core part of women’s dignity and using fictional science, The Orville’s attempt to give women dignity without the biblical worldview involved falls flat. Its approach to dignify women is to remove all of the distinctions between men and women when, in fact, these distinctions are good and honorable, and they give women dignity.

Oh, by the way, Bortas loses the case, but he resolves to stay with his mate whom he loves and to continue to raise their…son. Aww.

In part 2, we’ll take a look at the following episode, which presents an epic battle between the powers that be and “The Reformers.” I didn’t make that up.

“The Reformers”

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