May 26 2024

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McMahan: Lower Decks Comedy And Characters

3 min read

In a new interview with Slashfilm, Star Trek: Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan spoke about the new show and gave a description of the lead characters populating the lower decks of theie starship.

Writing a comedy is tricky when it comes to Star Trek, and McMahan, who is a fan, is sensitive to that. “I’m a huge Star Trek fan, and nobody needs a Star Trek comedy that made fun of Star Trek or punched down on Star Trek, nor was I interested in doing that that,” he said. “I was interested in writing a Star Trek that could be canon, that follows the rules of other Star Trek shows that I loved, and has everything that you love about Star Trek, including the way you tell stories.

“But I’m a comedy writer. I’m never gonna write a serious Star Trek, so the way that we handled it is it’s on a ship that isn’t the capital ship. It’s not about the bridge crew. It’s about the lowest officers on that ship. But when we’re breaking stories for the lower decks, every episode also has a proper Star Trek episode that’s happening to the bridge crew, and our lower deckers aren’t involved in it. However, you can’t have a big sci-fi thing happening on a starship and not have it affect them because that’s their whole world. So if you’re watching Lower Decks, you’re getting a full Star Trek episode from the perspective of people who are having their own social and emotional stories and their own sci-fi stories, but they just aren’t on the bridge. They don’t have the information the bridge is getting, and they don’t have the responsibility.

A big thing that was important to me was figuring out how do we comedically access these characters. How can these characters be funny and not break Star Trek? You can’t have a Morty [from Rick and Morty] in Star Trek. You can’t just have a stupid person in Starfleet, otherwise it breaks the aspirational paradigm of what humanity is like in Starfleet. So our leads are foils for each other, but they’re very much ingrained in Star Trek.”

McMahan went on to describe the two main characters on the show. “You have Ensign Beckett Mariner, who is sort of like our Tom Cruise/Maverick, where she’s amazing at Starfleet stuff, and she’s incredibly knowledgeable, but she just hates following the rules and she bristles at the military structure. She wants to do whatever she wants. She’s kind of like Captain Kirk if Kirk wasn’t a captain and didn’t have the power. Kirk would follow his gut, and she follows her gut.

“Then, Ensign Brad Boimler also knows everything about sci-fi stuff, and is also an amazing Starfleet crew member, but he’s so by-the-book and so burdened by following the rules that he can’t follow his gut. So the comedic friction there is that they both want the same thing, they’re both good at this stuff, but emotionally and from a human level, they’re completely different about how they do it.”

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