Analysis

Six Misogynistic Messages From The Orville

Seth MacFarlane’s new show, The Orville, has a lot of problems. You may have heard about the mismatching of Star Trek’s style of scifi with Family Guy’s style of comedy, or the plots that can’t hold up to five seconds of scrutiny. Those are both serious issues, but they pale in comparison to the show’s biggest flaw: misogyny. While most speculative fiction is lurching toward better treatment of women, The Orville is here to remind us exactly what we need to avoid.

With the first season over, let’s take a look at the worst tropes pushed in this mess of a show. Such blatant sexism has no place in modern storytelling, but at least The Orville can serve as a cautionary tale for what we shouldn’t be doing.

Spoilers: The first season of The Orville

Content Warning: Misogyny and sexual assault

1. Mediocre Men Are Better Than Talented Women

Mercer and Grayson from the Orville.

In the first episode, we find out that protagonist Ed Mercer’s career is on the rocks. Since his divorce, he’s done bad work, been insubordinate, and shown up to work drunk several times. Despite his record, the Planetary Union is so desperate for captains that they’re willing to give him a chance at command, so he’s promoted to captain and put on the titular USS Orville. He proceeds to do a mediocre job at best, bumbling about like someone with no experience of leadership. He’s barely on the ship for five minutes before he starts badgering his officers with inappropriate questions, and his command decisions can be mostly summed up by bewilderment at whatever is happening.

Meanwhile, we also meet Mercer’s XO and ex-wife, Commander Grayson. She is everything he isn’t: professional, commanding, and cool under fire. They were even the same rank before Mercer was promoted and given the Orville. So why wasn’t Grayson put in command? Even if she doesn’t have a lot of experience, her name should still be ahead of an officer with a history of being intoxicated at work.

Grayson isn’t the only officer on the ship better qualified than Mercer. That honor extends to Security Chief Kitan, Second Officer Bortus, and even the ship’s doctor. All of them display greater competence than Mercer and more ability to get other people to do what they say. But none of them are white men.

Believe it or not, the show does offer an explanation, but it doesn’t make any sense. At the end of the first episode, it’s revealed that Mercer was put in command because Grayson lobbied for him. She felt guilty about the circumstances of their divorce and thought he deserved another chance. Grayson’s superior should have refused outright. When someone shows they can’t handle responsibility, you don’t give them a second chance by putting them in a position of even greater responsibility, especially not in a military organization. That’s not a second chance; that’s failing up.

In real life, women are often passed over for professional opportunities, despite equal or superior qualifications. The same is true for people of color and queer folk. This sort of discrimination contributes to wage gaps and pushes people out of their chosen profession. It also harms society as a whole by holding back talented people from making the most of their skills. One hopes that by the time we send explorers out to the stars, they’ll be lead by people who know what they’re doing.

2. Strong Women Are Scary

Chief Kitan on the Orville's bridge.

Chief Kitan is one of the show’s more interesting characters. Her species is much stronger than humans, and she’s been promoted to head of security despite her inexperience. She has difficulty with confidence, and she often wonders if she really deserves her position.

Unfortunately, another aspect of her character is how difficult it is for her to get a boyfriend because of her strength. This gets brought up several times in the first season, to the amusement of her fellow officers. The joke is that guys are intimidated by her – cue laughter.

Quick: raise your hand if you’ve ever seen this trope applied to a man. If you can’t remember the Next Generation episode where Worf couldn’t get a date because of his enormous muscles, that’s because this joke is actually a form of gender policing. Men are expected to be physically strong, but that same trait is scary in women.

A common defense of this trope is to claim that it’s realistic, and that’s technically true. Plenty of sexist men do indeed find women scary, physically strong or otherwise. The problem is that The Orville treats this as something Kitan will just have to deal with until she can find that one-in-a-million guy. Not only is this insulting to men – plenty of us would love a partner who can bend steel bars – but it also implies that this is somehow a flaw that Kitan will have to overcome.

Tropes and jokes that depend on rigid definitions of gender are harmful because they prescribe what people are allowed to be. This is the same thinking that leads to female athletes being insulted because they’re “too muscular.” If we’re lucky, The Orville will forget about this storyline in season two. Otherwise, we can look forward to an episode were Kitan has to prove how feminine she is to get a guy.

3. Harassment Is Funny

Doctor Finn from The Orville

Dr. Finn, the ship’s chief medical officer, is easily the show’s best character.  A lot of that comes from Penny Johnson Jerald’s acting, but the character is also well written. She’s competent in a story where competence is in short supply, she’s supportive of her crew mates, and she doesn’t take guff from anyone. She even has a story about being a badass mom. What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, many of Finn’s scenes are ruined by a slime ball named Yaphit. That’s not a joke; he’s actually a ball of slime. I’m sure the writers thought that was funny. You see, Yaphit is into Finn, which is fine. But he continues to make overtures long after she’s told him she’s not interested, which is not fine.

This is a classic example of the persistent suitor trope, the idea that it’s romantic for a man to keep propositioning a woman even after she’s said no. Supposedly this demonstrates how devoted he is to her. It’s creepy at the best of times, but The Orville takes it one step further. Yaphit goes beyond not taking a hint. His advances are so blatantly sexual, they wouldn’t be appropriate in the workplace even if Finn accepted them.

This is obviously sexual harassment. You don’t need a degree in feminist theory to understand why saying “I wanna have sex with you” to someone over and over again isn’t okay. And yet, these scenes are played for laughs. It’s funny how Yaphit won’t take no for an answer, interrupting Finn while she works, and possibly making her feel unsafe. We’re even supposed to feel a little sorry for Yaphit, because Finn keeps turning him down.

To add some extra ugliness to this storyline, Finn does eventually have sex with Yaphit, but only under the influence of alien sex pheromones. Yaphit didn’t know Finn was dosed, but it’s still incredibly gross to write a story about a woman being forced into sex with a man* she’s repeatedly turned down. The only light at the end of this awful tunnel is that Yaphit at least seems to back off after Finn threatens to report him, so maybe they’ve dropped this misogynistic excuse for a storyline.

4. Cheating Justifies Abuse

Mercer and Grayson from the Orville

In The Orville’s backstory, Captain Mercer and Commander Grayson used to be married. They split up when she cheated on him. Even though their relationship was already in trouble, Mercer was deeply hurt by Grayson violating his trust, as one might expect. Fast forward to the present, where they’re serving on the same ship, and all sympathy you might have for Mercer quickly dries up.

From the moment Grayson comes on board, Mercer and his friend Malloy do everything they can to make her life hell. First they talk about how awful she is to the rest of the bridge crew as her shuttle is docking. These are people she’ll have to work with, and now their relationship is sabotaged before she even arrives. From there, they needle her about the affair every chance they get. Grayson can’t get a word in without Mercer or his lackey berating her about the time she cheated.

Coming from a coworker, this would be mere harassment, but Mercer is Grayson’s superior officer, which pushes this over the edge into abuse. It’s reasonable for Mercer to be hurt by what Grayson did, and it’s reasonable for him to want someone else as his XO. But it’s not reasonable for him to use his position of power to exact revenge.

Worse, Grayson is written to believe she deserves this treatment. In private, she talks about how bad she feels and says that having an affair is the worst thing a person can do. That’s ridiculous. There are way worse things a person can do within the confines of a romantic relationship. Pretending that cheating is somehow worse than domestic violence plays directly into deeply misogynistic ideas about men owning women’s sexuality.

Grayson’s dialogue in these scenes is painful. It’s hard to imagine a real person excusing such blatant hostility. Instead, Grayson’s words are obviously contrived, crafted by writers who wanted a female character to excuse their male characters’ bad behavior.

5. It’s Okay to Do Nothing

Mercer looking with disapproval at Malloy.

When Mercer and Malloy aren’t teaming up to make Grayson’s life miserable, they have a different dynamic: the jerk and his disapproving friend. Malloy is constantly acting in ways unbecoming of an officer, with everything from rudeness to drinking on duty. On more than one occasion, his behavior crosses the line from simple rudeness into open sexism.

Mercer’s reaction to Malloy’s antics is to cringe and occasionally offer a weak rebuke but never actually do anything to prevent it. From a meta perspective, Malloy is a vehicle for the show’s Family Guy-style humor, and so the writers can’t have him restrained. This puts Mercer in a position of allowing bad behavior, even though he knows it’s wrong, because calling his friend out would be too awkward.

This attitude is a huge problem in real life. Too often, people in positions of privilege ignore their peers’ bad behavior because it’s the easy thing to do. They chuckle awkwardly at a coworker’s sexist joke or stare down at their plate when a relative talks about the evils of immigration. Such silence emboldens bad actors and puts all the burden of stopping them on underprivileged groups.

Mercer is a candied protagonist. Despite what we actually see on screen, the other characters constantly talk up what a good captain he is. The audience is supposed to like him and approve of his actions unless given a specific reason not to. When Mercer ignores Malloy’s bad behavior, the show endorses his choice, intentionally or otherwise.

Anyone who’s called out a peer in real life knows how hard it is. The last thing we need is a popular character like Mercer telling us that we don’t actually have to. The show tells us it’s no big deal when people like Malloy make others feel uncomfortable or unsafe; it’s all a harmless joke. The worst part is that Mercer is Malloy’s superior officer. It is literally Mercer’s job to keep his crew from acting inappropriately. He has a position of power that few people in real life will ever have, and he does nothing with it.

6. Rape Is Funny

Darulio, Grayson, Mercer, and Kitan from The Orville

Remember that bit about Finn having sex with her harasser because of some alien pheromones? It turns out that was part of a bigger plot, which I take as proof against a loving God. In the episode “Cupid’s Dagger,” an alien named Darulio comes on board to do some scientific work. Everything seems normal until both Mercer and Grayson start longing for sex with Darulio, despite both professing to dislike him. Even in a ship where dick jokes are the norm, the other officers realize something is wrong with this picture.

After some investigating, Kitan discovers that once a year, Darulio’s species goes into heat. At this time, they emit pheromones so powerful that anyone who touches their skin wants to have sex with them for days. This gross violation of a person’s free will is played for laughs, because isn’t it hilarious when people are victimized?

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Deep Space Nine did a similar plot in the episode “Fascination.” That story wasn’t great, but at least the alien involved didn’t know what they were doing and agreed to treatment when it was discovered. Darulio is perfectly aware of his actions, and when he’s confronted about it, he just shrugs and says it’s no big deal.

Wow. So Darulio is unquestionably a rapist, using a mind-affecting substance to get sex out of people who’d otherwise say no. Naturally, when the Orville’s crew finds out about this, they throw him in the brig and bring him up on trial… Oh wait, no, they do nothing of the sort. Darulio faces no consequences whatsoever.

If that wasn’t enough, they actually use Darulio’s date rape pheromones to solve the episode’s other plot by dosing the leaders of two hostile alien fleets so they won’t fight. That results in a “humorous” scene where the leaders confess their love for each other, never mind how they’re going to feel in a few weeks when the pheromone wears off.

The episode ends with Darulio being congratulated as a hero, even by Mercer and Grayson. He says a few more pithy lines and then leaves, showered in praise. It’s sickening to watch. This is far worse than surprise kisses or persistent suitors; the episode unironically glorifies rape. I doubt that was the intent, but it’s what happened.


Even without the misogyny, The Orville’s first season isn’t great. But the blatant sexism pushes it over the line into nearly unwatchable territory. The only glimmer of hope is that at least some of these problems got less extreme as the season went forward. Mercer mostly stops making cracks about Grayson’s affair after the third episode, and Malloy gets significantly less screen time after the halfway point. Maybe the second season will grow out of these problems. However, the rape pheromone story was only three episodes from the season’s end. I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

(Psst! If you liked my article, check out my magical mystery game.)

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Comments

  1. Bronze Dog

    Had a co-worker recommend I watch the show, since he knew I was into Star Trek. I’m glad I didn’t get around to it, now.

    • Jimjam

      Seems kind of hasty. This list is several over exaggerated. You could pull this crap from star trek if you want to. Try Orville for yourself.

      • Bronze Dog

        So far, the responses from fans below have been discouraging me. I’ve got a lot of safer bets to go through.

        • Cay Reet

          Same here. But I never was that wild on the show to begin with. I’ll find better uses of my time, I guess.

        • daddyman

          The sweeping generalizations in this list are mind-numbing, I don’t have the wherewithal to address them all. I will say; the strongest member of the crew is a woman, that’s a plus, the fact that it causes her relationship trouble is a POINT the show itself makes, and so, obviously openly addresses. Alara appreciates that the captain is not put off by her attributes, but puts much faith in her. The rape mentality show was written to cause said discussion, Darulio’s misuse of his pheromones affected two female and three MALE victims, should I define misogyny? you need to watch this particular show for no other reason than to join the discussion. Capt. Mercer was the Wunderkind fastracking his way, (not bumbling) to the captain’s chair, his wife cheating on him, Broke him, derailed him, hence her guilt, that’s why she lobbied for him. He being the workaholic (which strained their marriage) would have put him in the chair 1st, she is portrayed as Very competent, but not as ambitious as the captain, where is the misogyny? I felt the same way about Jonathan Frakes #1 in TNG. McFarland does a great job of landing his universe somewhere between Galaxy Quest, and Star Trek original series. Think British Humor, some enjoy it, some don’t. there’s no right or wrong. but decide for yourself. It’s going through growing pains, but what show doesn’t?

    • Troy

      There’s not one part of this article that’s accurate. It’s a great show, it’s a better Star Trek than the current Discovery.

  2. Carl

    On Derulio, is there no consideration for this guys biology and culture. I guess you are probably going to say that we are going to relate to this as humans, and I guess that’s valid. But I imagine this alien’s people were all subject to one another’s mating cycles for countless millennia and formed there culture around it and other facts of life. Derulio even points out that on his world its impolite to turn down sex-kind of makes sense on a world where your hormones are going to have the affects observed in that episode, on people. My wife thought it was going to end with everyone falling for him. And him having to explain to them that he’s not “in love”, but rather, just being polite.

    • Cay Reet

      Sorry, but if I work outside of my world regularly and I know what my pheromones during mating season do to the people around me I either avoid being away from home during mating seasons, warn everyone around me of not touching my skin, or try not to be around people until the problem has resolved itself. I don’t just use it to make other people have sex with me, knowing they can neither deny me nor do they know why they suddenly want sex with me. That’s just outright creepy, not matter which species you are.

      • Withers

        I would have thought, and I can’t imagine any two advanced civilizations cooperating would not have some agreement or treaty of some type, and presumably the general outline of the culture and biology would have to be disclosed to both sides; And the ship opened their door and welcomed him inside, they didn’t have to; of course there’s no way this could be realistic because the reputation of such a species of humanoid would travel through the galaxy, no the universe, faster than …

      • ERIK JOHNSON

        The pheromones only affect people when they make physical contact, so keep your hands to yourself, and you won’t want to have sex with a fictitious alien.

        • SunlessNick

          Shouldn’t the onus be on *him* to keep his hands to himself, not the people who don’t even know what his pheromones do?

          • Cay Reet

            Yes, that’s exactly where the onus should be. The ‘just keep your hands off him’ suggestion sounds an awful lot like ‘don’t drink and dress moderately’ to me.

  3. Desdecardo

    You have to have a very very powerful magnifying glass and really really tiny tweezers to find those individual grains of sand on the beach of life in this show.

    You obviously didn’t watch the show to see the context or just cribbed your info from other people’s reviews.

    Elara is not a Strong Woman. She is a strong woman. (She is not emotionally or psychologically strong. Just physically strong. A Strong Woman is the Doctor who is not scary and is emotionally and psychologically strong and usually the backbone of every episode she is in.). I mean she can punch a vault door off at it’s hinges but is timid, affraid, awkward.

    Also, all your comments come from one episode which the crew going nuts fits with the story and is not indicative of the series.

    You also had an alien involved that didn’t think it was bad that this all was happening because it’s not an issue on his planet. They don’t have such puritanical views on sex. It also got fleshed out in the last episode of the season.

    Also, having experience with other cultures would make them inclusive to other cultures and not exclusive like this post.

    • Cay Reet

      Yet, making fun of a woman who doesn’t confirm to expectations (here: the expectation that a woman has to be physically weaker than a man) is sexist. So she is a strong woman in the literal sense of the word and that is why they make fun of her. That isn’t good or fun or just ‘normal.’

      • Oakfrost

        Actually that doesn’t happen. She consistently states how people fear her for being stronger than most men. It’s a social commentary, showing that this amazing woman can get a da actually that doesn’t happen. She consistently states how people fear her for being stronger than most men. It’s a social commentary, showing that this amazing woman can’t get a date Because men fear her strength. The guy she frequently talks to about this is a male who fears his own intelligence and command ability in a later episode. A lot of the stuff is not done for laughs. It’s pointing out that hundreds of years from now, it’s still possible we could have the same stupid problems that we have today. You need to watch the show make your own decision on it. The first episode, really made me irritated that It was going to be a family guy Rip off of Star Trek. However in later episodes, I found it to be actually very entertaining show that made me question some social commentary of issues out there like many of the Star Trek the Next Generation episodes did

        • Rocketman

          I’ve noticed that most critics of this show appear to be less criticizing the show and more airing their personal problems, hang ups, and fears. I personally like that the characters are not all “perfect” from some random persons view of utopia. Life isn’t about having your personal offenses pandered to, as much as many vocal people today think it is. Show me a large group of people who all think the same, act the same, or even have the same morals and I’ll show you that same group which is comprised of a majority of either repressed or oppressed people trying to act like they fit in, afraid of what everyone would think if they knew that they were different at heart.

          I celebrate diversity in thought, and the PC Police are very busy trying to suppress it.

          So…that being said, the one thing I do agree with is that I think Mercer needs more of a backbone. Too much of Family Guy’s Peter Griffin has crept into that character. From what I’ve seen so far, he most certainly is not fit for command.

          In closing: Love the show. Do not avoid it based on this article. Think for yourself.

          • SunlessNick

            Life isn’t about having your personal offenses pandered to

            And yet an awful lot of people seem to be trying real hard to be offended by an article that doesn’t gush over a show they like.

            I celebrate diversity in thought

            Except for now.

          • ERIK JOHNSON

            This is a reply to SunlessNicks comment….
            People aren’t offended by the article because they like the show, it’s because the person who wrote the article clearly has an agenda, and/or hasn’t watched the show, it’s not an educated opinion.
            The men on the show are flawed, and so are the women, my favorite character on the show is Commander Grayson, she’s smart, strong, doesn’t take shit from anyone, and has flaws. She’s made poor command decisions on the show as well, and each of the female characters has had the spot light on them, showing their “humanity” their strengths and imperfections, just like the men have, but the writer must have forgotten to include any of that in this unbiased article, perhaps if they had actually watched the show.

          • SunlessNick

            because the person who wrote the article clearly has an agenda, and/or hasn’t watched the show, it’s not an educated opinion

            Both of those are functionally codephrases for “doesn’t agree with me about the show.”

          • Arielle

            No, they are code for “calling someone on their rhetorical dishonesty.” Multiple times the writer has had specific factual errors pointed out, but never once said, “Oh, you’re right, sorry, here’s what I meant…” Instead he just doubled down on the error or ignored it in hopes it would go away. It might get you elected president but doesn’t hold up for the rest of us.

        • Greg

          It’s also important to point out that she is going against her parent’s (and possibly her peoples’) dominant moral philosophy by going into military (as opposed to more intellectually-minded) service. Hence her hesitation and uncertainty.

      • daddyman

        I have watched Every episode of the show and have Yet to see one person ‘making fun of a woman who doesn’t confirm to expectations’ so if that is the crux of your thought please elaborate, the show interjects humor, but not here, Alara has relationship trouble, the show doesn’t ignore personal, and relationship problems, and her superior physical strength is the focus of hers, Bortus and his mate have married folk problems, The Capt. and his 1st officer have the problems of ex’s. What would Any show be without these personal issues?! She’s young, she’s naive, she got bumped up the ranks admittedly because of her species, and lo and behold, the young lady has boyfriend trouble. If everything in her life went great what a boring character she would be.

      • Greg

        They aren’t making fun of her. they are *teasing* her in the manner that friends/friendly acquaintances sometimes do. They make it clear that there is no ill-intent, and several times actually sympathize with her plight.

      • daddyman

        Support your statement, Who makes fun of her? Who is ‘They’?

  4. Laura Ess

    Now when I watched the Darulio episode, I thought it’d been introduced to give an “excuse” for reconciliation between Mercer and Grayson. Since Darulio is the alien that Grayson had the affair with, which resulted in their separation/divorce; the fact that it’s likely that her interest in him at the time was probably due to him “being in heat” (i.e. involuntary) would mean that “it’s not her fault”. At least it would withing The Orville’s world.

    In real life of course Grayson would have got her own ship. She’s way more cool headed and decisive than Mercer! Seriving on the Orville and staying there seems as odd as Ryker refusing promotion and staying o the Enterprise. And as you mentioned above, in a paramilitary organisation as they’re all in, those officers would be up on a charge for insubordination, and their comments would more likely have been made in private.

    I want to like The Orville but things constantly annoy me about it. Perhaps the worst is that there’s a constant stream of jokes aimed only at the audience, which would be totally out of context within the stories themselves. There’s so many jokes that only work with a detailed knowledge of 20th/21st Western culture (not that Trek was immune to that – every ship seemed to have an expert of that period in the crew). The misogyny mentioned here, I think, falls in that category. The showrunner’s aiming at a particular audience, and hoping there’s an overlap with his previous shows.

  5. Sam Victors

    This is why I prefer comedy shows like Bob’s Burgers to Seth Macfarlane’s comedy. At least Bob’s Burgers doesn’t rely on bigotry for humor.

    • Troy

      Orville doesn’t rely on bigotry. This entire article is wrong.

      • Sam Victors

        No, the article pretty much nails it.

  6. Ariel Moldenhauer

    This is weird. ¿You take all of this from where?
    ¿Mediocre men are better? She ask for him for be a capitan (and he ask her to stay in the ship, because he recognices he needs the backup)
    ¿Strong women are scary? Yes, ¿why not? She was a rockie there, and also recieve very good advices from other woman (the doctor) ¿do you remember? She was nervous,of course, but she feced her fears and grows up from there.

    Out of context everything is wrong. It is a very shameful way to write, actually, just for have more visitors.

    Please, take a look on this show and judge by yourselves, don’t let others brainwash you

  7. Arielle

    Wow. Talk about misstating the information to fit an agenda. The most competent (in your estimation) characters are women and minorities. The show passes the Bechdel test on a regular basis. But somehow all you can see is sexism and racism. Why, because the captain is a white dude? One who was originally a shooting star but hit a bad patch because of infidelity. He was the one cheated on but he’s still the bad guy, huh? People take that sort of thing hard and get thrown for a loop. That’s reality. Would you prefer it go the other way, when the man cheats and the woman has a meltdown? Would that send a more female-positive message? Given how you apparently don’t think there’s anything wrong with marital infidelity (as long as it’s a man being cheated on) I probably already have my answer. Girl power!

    As for harassment: Ed starts off angry, but, as you noted, it tapers off as he gets past it and quickly comes to recognize and appreciate Kelly as a fellow officer. Too bad you missed that part. And the fact they were the same rank is irrelevant to getting command. Different people train for different jobs. McCoy and Scotty were the same rank, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t qualified for the same job.

    You noted that Dr. Finn is the most competent character. Yes, she is, and is quite capable of looking after herself, thank you. No need to go running to HR about Yaphit, who does take no for an answer, by the way. He comes across more pathetic than creepy. On the other hand, he’s not attracted to white women, so I guess he is a racist. Would it be better if it were a female character pathetically hitting on a male character? Is that less offensive?

    Then there’s Alara. Strong and therefore intimidating. Yeah I can see how you think that’s somehow demeaning of women. I’m sure it would be better if she had men falling over themselves to be with her, right? Including Yaphit, perhaps? Sheesh! Intimidated by strong woman = sexist; attracted to strong woman = sexist. Uh, yeah. I hope Dr. Finn can prescribe something for the headache this is causing me. And I’m shocked how you missed the blatant racism in the way she (white person) punched Bortus (a person of color) right out of the boxing ring. Call the NAACP!

    The whole Darulio thing pretty much broke the internet so I’m not going to waste time rehashing all of that. Cultural differences, seeing everything though our own moral values yada yada. God – I mean Kelly – forbid they suggest women can take charge of their own sexual agency and not be victims! But how could you miss the blatant homophobia in the way they treated Ed falling in love with him, including the implied sexual relationship? The way everyone was so shocked… oh, no, wait, they weren’t. Even Gordon treated it as yeah whatever. In other words, they treated it as of no significance. As positive as it gets. But that doesn’t fit your agenda so you ignored it. Well played.

    I suggest you don’t watch the show anymore, as it’s clearly not your thing. But please stop misrepresenting it to fit some sort of social justice paradigm.

    • N

      I’m sorry, but this article most certainly does not endorse extra marital relationships. Direct quote from the article: “It’s reasonable for Mercer to be hurt by what Grayson did, and it’s reasonable for him to want someone else as his XO.” The point is not that she should be forgiven for cheating on him, but rather that, unless her lack of fidelity has a clear impact on her ability to do her actual work, her boss should not drag it out into the open like this.
      The article also never implied that Yaphit was racist for liking a woman of colour.
      Regarding Kitan, there is no need for men to either avoid her completely or fall head over heels in love with her. Not everything has to be extreme. Maybe some men dislike her but some like her.

      • Greg

        Which is what we see on screen. She has multiple male friends who are simply that: friends.

  8. Me

    I think people are reading into this way too much. Just sit back and watch the show. Unless your picking every little detail about every show you watch, then your missing the point that it’s entertainment, not real life.
    I watch the show and I don’t get offended by any of it. The only thing that my husband points out is that every episode the crisis is always solved. I just want to sit back and watch something that doesn’t involve hearing that some jerk has shot up a crowd of people.

  9. Jason

    This is basically an anti-fan looking for things to hate about a show he doesn’t approve of. A lot of it assumes that depicting something means it’s being endorsed. For example, is the captain an under-qualified beneficiary of male privilege? Yes, he is. Does the show say this is right? I don’t get that from it. What I get instead is that this is a thing that happens, and they’re going to try to mine it for some jokes. I’m not saying The Orville is a great piece of social commentary (the humor is generally pretty weak), but it’s not that bad.

    • Cay Reet

      The moment its obvious not only for the audience, but also for his own superiors that he isn’t up to that job, he shouldn’t get it. You don’t lead a military organisation by putting people in positions of responsibility who can’t handle them – at least not for long. That means he shouldn’t have gotten that job.

      If the show has no great humour and doesn’t do anything else to really entertain you, then why defend it at all?

      • WolfStark

        The Union is not a military organization, just because it has weapons and a warship. And the USS Orville is a mid-level exploratory vessel, it’s purpose is exploring and helping but it is able to defend itself. Mercer got his job because he was exceptional for the most time at his job and Kelly stood up for him. In real life people get jobs like this too, because just because someone has a bad time does not mean that person is not suited for the job, which Mercer proved.

        • Cay Reet

          Sorry, but the moment you have a warship, you are a military or at least paramilitary organisation. The purpose of the Enterprise also was exploration, but that didn’t change the fact that it was a military ship.

          • daddyman

            He was on the fast track, on his own merit, to the captians chair on a Major crusier, I know this because I watch the show, so competent and impressive were his credentials, that, after some lobbying by his ex, he was given a second chance on a mid size cruiser. That’s how far ahead of the curve he was. Second chances happen in schools, on jobs, in sports, in the military, even in fictional universes.

  10. Adam Reynolds

    What I find interesting about all of the comments defending the show is that they all seem to be people who are not regular readers of the site. In other words, they are people who came here just to be offended that a show they like is being criticized.

    Anyway, I actually think there is also a deeper worldbuilding problem about the fundamental premise and the society it portrays. The way I originally heard this show described was as Star Trek but with real people. The problem is that this premise is impossible. The premise of Star Trek requires a fundamentally different culture than modern society.

    In short, Star Trek requires a more positive form of communism that genuinely works, and in which all of the various societal shifts are a consequence of this. While there are certainly things to criticize about this society, it is what you would need for the type of society needed for the Federation to work. The biggest obvious side effect is that the characters can thus feel wooden*, because their society is not all that relatable to our own.

    The Oriville wants to have the best of both worlds, portraying the type of idyllic society seen in Star Trek while also wanting characters that are easily understood by a modern audience. There is a fundamental disconnect between the two.

    * There are also some problems with just plain bad writing, but that is a problem shared by both shows.

    • Cay Reet

      Yes, I noticed that, too.

      The fact is that Star Trek often held female characters back, because the network didn’t want it this way (like the ‘either the female first officer or the Vulcan have to go’ thing about the original series). Or they wrote characters in first and then realized there wasn’t enough for them to do (which is, essentially, why Tasha in TNG had to go). Or they gave them ridiculous costumes without good and logical reason (Seven of Nine, obviously).

      Here we have, essentially, an anti-Star Trek society. Kirk might have had a lot of bad sides (like trying to get every female-looking alien into his bed), but he was a capable captain of his ship. He also knew better than to ignore the input from Spock and McCoy. And he was shown as capable and as a leader from the beginning. I’m not even going to go into the qualities of Picard or Janeaway.

      I think had they based this less on Star Trek and just done some kind of ‘general future society that really is our own with a few strange parts on’ setting, the series might actually have worked better. At least it wouldn’t be held to higher standards than it can deal with. It could use the usual humour without making it feel misplaced. It could treat its female characters stupidly, too. But yelling ‘we’re making something like Star Trek’ without actually understanding the fundamental basics of Star Trek had to backfire in some way.

    • Arielle

      I’m not offended at the criticism; there’s been far worse, and the show has plenty to criticize. But Next Generation had some early missteps too — remember “Code of Honor,” “Angel One,” or “Justice”?

      But you’re right, I’m not a regular reader of this site. So I took a look, because it’s essential to have an accurate, objective perspective when forming an opinion about something. I haven’t done RPG world building in decades, but it was interesting. And the piece on dark fiction was compelling and went a long way to explaining why I dislike that stuff. But it was balanced and acknowledged the positive, which is something I didn’t see in this piece.

      My objection is that this seemed more interested in advancing a socio-political agenda than offering relevant insight. I teach literary criticism and I’ve seen plenty of that stuff, at every level and from every side. Respected academics cherry-picking their analysis to fit their manifesto. There’s less crap in Bortus’ colon.

      To say there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the basics of Star Trek is naive. I, too, watched Star Trek during its original airing (and I’m talking about 60s here, kids). And the Orville is closer to that ideal than anything I’ve seen that calls itself science fiction in a very long time. They haven’t set up anything like that essential Kirk-Spock-McCoy triad, but perhaps that was lightning in a bottle and worked because nobody knew at the time what they were creating. But if The Orville could make something like that, the landing party trio so often seen, my money is on Grayson/Kitan/Finn as having the most resonance. And they’ve already laid a bit of the groundwork. I’d rather hope for more of that than just condemn what are so far little more than growing pains.

      • Cay Reet

        Well, if you read more of the blog posts here, you will soon realize a lot of the analysis here is about socio-political aspects of literature, movies, or TV series. This post is not unusual at all.

        Star Trek was based on the idea of a future Egalitarian society. That is not only why there’s a WOC on the bridge (Lt. Uhura), but also why it shows a Japanese officer among the good guys (the first positive role George Takei had in his career) and even includes a Russian officer during the Cold War era. Before the network stepped in, there even was going to be a second woman on the bridge, but, as mentioned, Roddenberry was forced to choose between his female first officer and the only regular alien member, so he (his own words) decided to ‘marry the first officer and keep the alien (Spock of course).’ Instead, the actress took the role of the nurse – a much more ‘acceptable’ female character for the network.

        Yes, there were bad episodes in Star Trek as well (in all series, as it were). That’s pretty normal for a TV series. There will always be weak episodes or episodes which do not hold up well over time (simply because the view of society on topics may change). But the problems in The Orville seem ingrained in the very structure to me and that makes it something else. A captain who is not up to par in one episode (perhaps due to personal reasons) is not a problem, but makes for a good plot, showing how the crew works around that. One joke about the too-strong female security office is not a problem, that’s rather to be expected, but other episodes might show how important this strength is in other situations. One or two passes of an unwanted suitor at the target of his desire can happen, but then it should be shown how he’s called off (preferably by someone higher up the hierarchy), because it’s counterproductive for the mission and disturbs the peace on the ship. But here, those things are basically shown as the rule, not as an exception.

        Kirk got the command of the Enterprise for being good at what he did before, not because someone wanted to give him a second chance. The same went for all of his successors (and his predecessor Archer). Starfleet adheres to military principles. Mercer gets the command despite not being up for it. Honestly, no matter how much another person begs for it, no military organisation would hand a ship to someone so unfitting for the position. Not only is he drinking regularly, he’s also causing unrest in the crew instead of keeping the peace (and absolute no-no, no matter which former connections you have with a new crew member – if you can’t work with someone, make sure they’re not assigned to the same ship). He is not fit for command and the military just can’t leave a ship with crew and weapons in the hands of someone who can’t handle it (a trade fleet might consider that, if financial protection is there, but not the military).

        • Arielle

          Heh heh, yes, I am aware of all those things about Star Trek, and plenty more: how Lucille Ball believed in Gene Roddenberry’s vision so much that she forced the studio to commission an unprecedented second pilot when the first one didn’t work (what Lucy wants, Lucy gets); how Spock’s pointed ears were airbrushed out of early promotional materials; how the character Chekov was created primarily as a counter to the massive popularity of The Monkees, and making him Russian was an afterthought; how Gerald Fried (composer of the legendary fight music) objected to having his music re-tracked into other episodes (standard practice of the time, which is why the original series’ music is so much more distinctive and memorable than any subsequent series); how costumer Bill Theiss got around censorship and created surprisingly sexy costumes by revealing areas of skin not usually considered erogenous; how the infamous “Spock’s Brain” suddenly makes sense when you understand it was originally intended to be a comedy until new producer Fred Freiberger famously decreed “Star Trek is not a comedy!”; how David Gerrold was just one of four writers who submitted unsolicited scripts that ended up being produced, something that couldn’t happen today (and two of them were women who gave us some of the most sublime episodes of the weak third season); how Leonard Nimoy believed that, contrary to popular perception, William Shatner really was trying to protect the integrity of the show (especially near the end) rather than just his considerable ego, whereas Nimoy admits he was only focused on protecting Spock; how Shatner purposely blew every single non-kiss take of the famous scene with Nichelle Nichols so they’d be forced to go with the interracial kiss; how the part of Spock was originally offered to Martin Landau, who was later replaced on “Mission Impossible” by… Leonard Nimoy; how this whole thing is one unspeakably long sentence that got out of control. I can play this game all day

          But it doesn’t matter. As much as I enjoy this kind of back and forth, I don’t want to commandeer your site. You’ve clearly made up your mind about Captain Mercer and no argument will sway you and you won’t be happy until the character is stripped of command, courtmartialed and drummed out of the service. You will ignore how his main character arc has been regaining his confidence and competence. You will exaggerate small elements to support your argument, such as claiming he’s “drinking regularly” when in fact we’ve seen him drinking all of three times. Once was in the Calivon zoo when he assumed his life was permanently screwed. Once was a social drink with Kelly and Darulio (and considering he was being date-raped, I certainly hope you aren’t blaming the victim). The only time he got drunk was celebrating getting back together with Kelly. And she got just as drunk, a small detail you chose to ignore because apparently it doesn’t impugn her competence, nor does the fact that she regularly uses cannabis. And recall it was Alara who required a couple of shots to get through her first command. You left that out too.

          And when you say he’s “causing unrest among the crew,” that’s so out-of-nowhere and utterly unsupported that there can be little doubt you are allowing your hate of the character to come before anything else, so I won’t belabor the matter after this.

          Why waste your time? I reserve my criticism for shows I believe in when they screw up, like handing John the idiot ball in “Majority Rule,” or undercutting the incredible suspense of “Firestorm” with the big reveal near the end, or how frustratingly underused Bortus has been (Yaphit got more development fergodsakes!). I don’t waste my time objecting to things that are beneath my contempt. I used to, until my friends told me to knock it off. I never passed an opportunity to rant about everything reprehensible about The Hunger Games until someone told me my ranting was causing people go out and read the thing when they otherwise probably wouldn’t have. I realized Suzanne Collins wasn’t losing any sleep over me and let it go. And I felt better.

          Finally, might I humbly suggest you at least try to be a bit receptive to attempts to reach consensus. I was criticized for not having read the blog, but when I did so, you jumped on me for not reading it properly. When I had a blog, I was overjoyed when anyone was engaged enough to want to respond, and I would thank them effusively for their contribution, no matter him much I disagreed, including some who were outright hostile. But then I was more interested in dialogue than advancing an agenda, so there you go. Be well.

          • Cay Reet

            You are causing unrest among a crew, if you give out negative information on a future crew member (especially one ranking as an officer) before they join the crew (especially if you do it, because you have personal reason to dislike them, valid as they are in this case). You’re also fostering unrest by allowing sexual harrassment of an important crew member (the doctor is an important crew member) to go on unchecked.

            He shouldn’t be court-martialled (and he won’t be in the show, I’m sure), he should NOT HAVE BEEN CHOSEN from the beginning. That is where the show made clear where it will go. You don’t create an unreliable character for a position that needs a reliable one, that’s a simple point. And, yes, I know it’s still a comedy under it all, but it’s a comedy which pretends to be like Star Trek. I’ve seen that done far better in Galaxy Quest. Or in the Space Quest games, to be honest.

            But then, with Seth MacFarlane as the producer, nothing much should be expected. His treatment of female characters in Family Guy makes it pretty clear how he thinks about women in comedy and what they’re good for.

      • Bronze Dog

        My objection is that this seemed more interested in advancing a socio-political agenda than offering relevant insight.
        Isn’t that what all communication does, intentionally or not? Also, just because you think something isn’t relevant to you doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant to other people.

        • Arielle

          I meant relevant to the actual show, rather than taken wildly out of context or just plain made up.

    • daddyman

      ouch, um, wow, you got me, someone criticized something I like and I felt the impulse to add pros to said cons, is that weird? I recall in school hearing a kid I didn’t know slamming one of my best buds, I told him what I believed to be the truth, should I not have? The article presumably focuses on the misogyny rampant in the series, and I have yet to see that to be the case. Am I out of line? the site says ‘Leave a Comment’ was that just for regular readers who agree? if so, my bad.

  11. Sam L Beringer

    Also, adding to the first one, people have noted that there’s also a subtle sexism in having men being the buffoons or silly while women are straight-laced and serious.

    • Cay Reet

      The ‘nagging wife’ trope? I hate that one.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think it has to do with wanting to keep the female characters sexy for the male audience. The actresses are all gorgeous obviously, but competence at cool scifi things is also sexy, while bumbling comedy that the male characters do would, in the writers’ minds at least, make the women less desirable.

      • Sam L Beringer

        I don’t know what it is. But I remember it being brought up during a criticism of Hermione in the Harry Potter movies (not the books; the critic was making a point that she had flaws in the books and that Ron wasn’t a dumbass who existed for comic relief).

  12. Sophie the Jedi Knight

    I haven’t watched the show, but I don’t see how with what you said that Darulio is a rapist. That episode definitely sounds like it made fun of rape and was problematic and Darulio should probably stay indoors for a week or so during that time but… does he ever actually rape anyone? He has the power to make people want to have sex with him, but is it mentioned that he uses it? Having the power to rape anyone doesn’t necessarily make Darulio a rapist.
    Of course, I haven’t seen this show, so I could be completely wrong.
    And one last thing: what would Darulio go to trial for if the crew did bring him there? Does he ever abuse this “trait?”

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Apologies if I didn’t make this clear, but Darulio has sex with both Grayson and Mercer, both of whom he knows only want to have sex with him because of the pheromones.

  13. Vinicius Alvim

    Wow, got so disappointed with this article! oO

    I usually find Mythcreants’ pieces to be so thoughtful and insightful, but this one seemed so… shallow! oO And I think Oren’s comments and analysis in so many other posts are so “spot on”!

    How are we having a talk about “misogyny” in Orville but have not made a -single- comment about episode three, “About a Girl”?

    More to the point: since we -are- talking about comedy here, who are we laughing at in this show? In most of “Ed/Kelly” scenes, who is more often the punchline – the super competent and reasonable officer or the buffonic captain? When Alara “opens a can” for Ed, who is really getting the spotlight? When Yaphit is pestering Doctor Finn for the upteenth time, who is made to look like a pathetic, annoying character? Are we really -laughing- at Alara’s strength? EVERY time she mentions her inability to find a love interest because of her strength, I don’t think the show is saying that to make me -laugh-, quite the contrary, i think they’re saying: “Don’t you agree that this is unfair? Can’t you sympathize with her plught?”

    The comedy undertone is, often, “women are mature and competent”, “men are immature and inept”. How is that sexist against women?

    I agree with one thing: the comedy tone could be much more intelligent and mature than it is, but I think that has hardly detracted from the shows many other strengths: episodes like “About a Girl” and “Krill” are very good sci-fi, and we are -lacking- things like this in sci-fi TV shows for a while.

    To be fair, it would seem to me that the author spotted some familiar tropes (Strong Woman, Cheating Wife) and quickly criticized it for the problems they usually represent but did not go deeper in his analysis about -how- those tropes are being presented. I DO NOT think they’re being presented at “face value”. They ARE being criticized. We are not suppose to sympathize with Ed’s tantrums against his ex-wife. We’re supposed to sympathize with Kelly’s MUCH more mature attempt of reconciliation. The facts that Ed’s tantrums exists in the show does not mean the authors intend the audience to -side- with him. And by the time his tantrums come to a low, he even says so.

    I think Oren has some great pieces of writing, thought and analysis here in the blog, but maybe, this time, a jadedness towards the subject matter in hand may have prevented him to see beyond the “cover” to gaze deeper into the message of Orville.

  14. Justin

    This article is a very shoddy piece of writing.

    I have been very impressed with the first season of The Orville. The characters are well written and the stories are often thought provoking and intriguing. Above all there is a strong dynamic at work – of colleagues working together and becoming a family.

    The series has been written for people who enjoy humour, great storytelling, relatable characters, dramatic tension and a positive, life affirming vision of the future. As such, I would recommend that the author avoid it at all costs, as it obviously wasn’t written for him.

  15. Jess

    Omg these are the dynamics that make the show interesting. And they have been all twisted up to look like it’s not right! If the characters of a show are all pc it’s going to be a crappy show… this article is ridiculous!

  16. WolfStark

    Wow, that article is bad, it doesn’t look like the author watched to show at all. Mercer is pretty far from being a bad captain or a “mediocre men”, he is simply pretty emotional, leading to his situation after the divorce and why he wouldn’t normally get a chance to captain a star ship. He got a chance thanks to Kelly and only to Kelly and not because the Union is desperate, they did it for her and it paid off. He is responsible, respectful and loyal and he is a pretty fine diplomat, if he isn’t drugged by pheromones. His command decisions are not bewildering, they are what you would expect of a captain in a SciFi series.

    Let us look at the position womans have in The Orville: Chief Medical Officer, Chief of Security, First Officer and Admiral. And the Admiral commanded the USS Olympia a way bigger ship than the USS Orville.

    And no, Kelly is not perfect, no one is in this series (well Isaac may come close). While her suspicious feeling of Pria came out as correct her behaviour was still absolutely not alright, same as she tried investigating the indigenious population of a planet all on her own, leading to a whole religion build around her.

    Long story short: As with every crew, team work is the key and neither Ed nor Kelly can do the job alone.

    “But none of them are white men.”
    That’s clearly sexism AND racism in one sentence, good job.

    2. Strong Women Are Scary

    Alaras love live is not the center of jokes, it’s a part of her character. And we don’t know much except what we know of her. Fact is, she is not just strong but she can make a cube of Titanium into a ball. While I wouldn’t mind Alaras strength at all, we don’t really know whats going on. What we do know is: she DOES find a partner and it doesn’t seem to be that hard for her. The point is, she doesn’t have a lasting relationship. So it’s not just about “finding someone to accept the strength”, conidering that the people on board of the Orville know her and she has a new guy every week, so they are clearly not turned off by her strength.

    3. Harassment Is Funny

    No it’s not and it’s pretty clear. Yaphit is humerous, his behaviour isn’t. I don’t see how her scenes are ruined, she is a strong female character resisting his advances, making it clear she doesn’t need a man. The author criticizes that we see Yaphit doing something that isn’t right. That’s like criticizig a movie for showing us someone shooting someone else, promoting killing.

    And no, it’s not gross writing that pheromones lead to people being attracted to each other suddenly. It would be bad, if Finn suddenly said “oh yes, the pheromones showed me, that I love Yaphit”, THAT would be gross and inapproiate but what happens? She clearly says she won’t see him in awhile, the pheromones changed nothing and that is breaking a trope btw..

    4. Cheating Justifies Abuse

    There was no abuse. Ed is angry at Kelly, that’s how human relationships are, sometimes someone is hurt. He makes clear, he doesn’t want her around, which is absolutely normal (and for comedic laughs it’s obviously less subtle) BUT the point is that Ed overcomes his feelings, sees how good Kelly is for him and the ship.

    “First they talk about how awful she is to the rest of the bridge crew as her shuttle is docking.”

    No, they don’t do that. Why? Because Ed isn’t on the bridge, Malloy speaks bad about her, so what? No one says that this is right and it’s not misoginyst to talk bad about a person, that’s what people do all the time “I met X and he’s an asshole!”, absolutely normal human behaviour. Thing is, that’s not constant, you don’t see Malloy being mean to her all the time. The author completely ignores a very important part in writing stories – development.

    “Worse, Grayson is written to believe she deserves this treatment.”

    Uhm.. yeah sometimes people see the fault in their own behaviour, it’s pretty great to see that Kelly is not the typical “I did nothing wrong it’s ALL your fault”, it’s different and way more human. It’s weird to come with domestic violence here as if psychology is absolutely irrelevant. It’s especially strange considering that while talking bad about someone is criticized as being misogynist it’s completely okay to cheat. In other words, wrong behaviour is only wrong when a male does it, never when a female does it.

    5. It’s Okay to Do Nothing

    “Mercer’s reaction to Malloy’s antics is to cringe and occasionally offer a weak rebuke but never actually do anything to prevent it. From a meta perspective, Malloy is a vehicle for the show’s Family Guy-style humor, and so the writers can’t have him restrained. This puts Mercer in a position of allowing bad behavior, even though he knows it’s wrong, because calling his friend out would be too awkward.”

    Uhm.. no? The author seem to have watched a different show, because Malloy did a reprimand in his records for taking a part of Yaphit that was consumed by Bortus. Malloy completely accepts being the example for an idiot, that males are not smarter because they are male. He is still a pretty fine officer, drinks once (!) on a shuttle in the very first episode (but isn’t drunk, he just pretends), is scolded for it and otherwise does his job.

    6. Rape Is Funny

    It’s not and the show doesn’t say that at all. Pheromones are a recurring theme in SciFi and elsewhere, Darulio doesn’t walk to someone, drug that person and pursuits to have sex with him or her. It’s a development and his species and culture regards sex in a different way, so it’s normal for him to accept when people come TO HIM and want to engage in a romantic way.

    • Cay Reet

      #6: He gives people his pheromones (which qualify as ‘drugs’ in this context) and waits for those to work in his favour – as he knows they will. That is non-consenting sex. And, believe it or not, non-consenting sex is rape. It doesn’t matter if someone uses a drug or a weapon or just greater strength or another kind of threat (like firing you, if you don’t go along with it) to make you have sex with them.

      • daddyman

        You ignore All his responses(they were on point and actually About the show, can’t have that) and you respond to #6, which is interesting since that was the show consisting of the least amount of alleged misogyny, the point of the original post. Within its fan sites this episode inspired a lively amount of ‘rape culture’ conversation, as it was intended to do. Darulios rape wasn’t ok, very few fans thought so, but more to the point, 3 out of the 5 victims (and they were victims) were MEN, how does that fit into an article about misogyny? Isn’t having a conversation about rape culture a good thing? In the Unofficial Fansite conversation following that ep. several individuals literally asked “whatdaya mean rape culture”? and had it explained to them in detail. and this came from where? not a documentary, not a news program but from a sci fy dramedy. I am going to look up misogyny again cause I don’t see it in this or other episodes.

      • Mad Yank

        As a former LEO, I can remind you of something: rape requires INTENT to force sexual contact on the part of the INITIATOR.
        Now, it’s true that Darulio’s race exudes pheromones – however (and someone here PLEASE check me on this one, because I’m not sure) I think he was off-cycle THIS time; he was early. He actually didn’t expect to be ‘outgassing,’ or whatever they call it, while aboard Orville.
        Not that he was even going to be concerned about the results – as many here have said, his society just does NOT have the Puritanical viewpoint ours does regarding sexual relations. And since the ‘victims’ of his pheromones were coming on to him for intercourse (or whatever), it was only technically rape. From a legal standpoint, that charge would be on VERY shaky ground.

        • Greg

          It’s clear within the context of the episode that while Darullio’s people are well aware of the effect, *the rest of the Union is not*. Failure to disclose the fact means that, even barring the effect of the phermones, other races cannot give informed consent. Which makes it clearly rape.

  17. Scargosun

    Thank you for deleting my post. When you did so, you proved my point. I did not break any rules according to the comment policy. If you can’t take criticism, you should not make public posts.

  18. Pancakemaster808

    I agree with pretty much everything this article is saying. Persistent sexism is one of the many stones hanging around The Orville’s neck. The inconsistent tone and dickishness of half the main cast has placed this show at best as below average. Glad someone is posting about the crap this show pulls =).

  19. Tom

    All the points you made above just proved how hilarious the show is makes me very glad I watched and enjoyed every episode.

    XD

  20. Christian Storgaard

    While your points are somewhat correct on their own, they only hold up when seen in a specific angle in complete isolation from the rest of the show. You also seem to be somehow seeing most of your complaints as being played for laughs, even though they’re not.

    1. A woman putting in a recommendation for a man she trusts, is not her being “passed up” or being treated unfairly, it’s her being listened to and her opinion valued. Somehow this is misogynistic apparently? The laughs here come from the man’s awkwardness in dealing with “being helped” and also typical “first day of work” comedy.
    2. The fear of Alara’s strength is not portrayed as a fault of her character, but as a flaw of her ex. It’s also not played for laughs.
    3. Yaphit is played for laughs for being annoying but his inappropriateness is not at all played for laughs but as a negative example. This is the show trying to teach the viewer the same lesson as you seem to.
    4. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe anyone in the show ever likened cheating to domestic abuse. Also, no abuse of Kelly takes place in the show, we’re only shown the males talking about the abuse you talk about, that never happens, and the whole discussion is the joke – again, it’s the male’s reaction that’s the joke, not any actual abuse of power, abuse of women or non-existent domestic abuse.
    5. Malloy is the joke here. It’s the show saying “don’t act like this guy, you’ll look like a complete ass.”
    6. The joke here is on the chemical reactions behind romance, not sex. While the plot is certainly in the grey are of appropriateness, the sex itself is never played for laughs and is never shown to be un-wilful. Sure, it’s easy to draw uncomfortable parallels to our world, but we are talking about alien life forms and their biological mating functions in a sci-fi setting here, so maybe it’s better to look at what’s actually in the script instead.

    Your points are all valid, when applied to our current society, but from my perspective, the worst thing The Orville can be accused of is bringing focus to them, not indulging in them.

    • Cay Reet

      First of all, every piece of fiction is connected to the time and space where it was produced. The original Star Trek series is a product of the 60s. TNG is a product of the late 80s/early 90s. The Orville is a product of the late 2010s. That means you have to apply our current society and its rules to it.

      #6: The chemical reaction to the pheromones is no joke. It’s what enables the alien to knowingly have sex with whomever he wants. It doesn’t matter how it works on his homeworld, where everyone has those pheromones. He knows the species he deals with on the ship have no protection from it, nor do they seem to be aware (or they would have avoided skin contact and, perhaps, made him wear gloves and suchlike). If you use something – a drug, a weapon, another threat or trick – to make a person have sex with you, it’s not consenting sex. Again: the alien knows about his ability to make others desire him sexually, it’s not his first mating cycle and neither has he been raised away from his species and without learning about his own biology. He knows a handshake will be enough. He knows he’s in his mating cycle. By not taking precautions and not even warning the crew, he clearly shows he is prepared to used this to his advantage – no matter what others think about it. That is more than just an uncomfortable parallel.

      • Bronze Dog

        It continues to disturb me that some people still need consent explained to them.

        • Arielle

          All of this applies only when it’s based on the fact that our culture has placed a massive amount of moral baggage on sexuality. And that’s pure patriarchy. The idea of “protecting” women really means ensuring their “purity.” In other words, making sure the girl you marry is a virgin and you get firsties, and being certain that your son is really yours. Nothing progressive in any of that.

          Compare to another biological function which we actually make the center of most social ritual: eating. Ever actually watch someone eat? Kinda gross. But it’s almost required, and considered rude to decline an invitation without valid reason. Said reason might be the choice to be vegan. No one should be forced to eat that dish made with chicken stock, but if I didn’t know better, it’s not like I’m intentionally trying to poison you. And if I did know, and still tried to trick you into eating it, that makes me a world class asshole but not a criminal. That’s how Retepsians are about sex. And many vegetarians have family members who do indeed try to push them into eating meat. “That’s grandmas special meatloaf, so don’t insult her by refusing it. One little bite won’t hurt.” “Oh, grandma!”

          • Cay Reet

            If that guy never before met another species and thus didn’t know they had another idea about sexuality, I would agree to your argument, I really would. But since he had sex with Grayson before and has lived among humans (and, presumably, other aliens), he is aware of the cultural differences.

            And even if he were not, it’s still amoral to use your pheromones to make someone want to have sex with you. You wouldn’t use pheromones to make someone eat broccoli, now, would you? Or to say ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes?

          • Arielle

            True, and that makes the guy an asshole. But not a rapist. I agree he is amoral, which means “not conforming to a particular moral code.” If you are vegetarian for moral reasons, my eating meat will be amoral by your values. You might even be able to make the case that it’s immoral (which I think is what you meant). But your moral judgement places no obligation on me to abstain from meat, nor even to provide you with a vegetarian option. For that, you have to get your moral values codified into law. Do you really want to open that jar of pickles?

            And before you say that’s not even comparable, I agree. One is manipulating someone into having what they agree is very enjoyable sex, while the other is murdering a non-consenting animal to consume its flesh. True, those are not morally equal.

        • daddyman

          Most don’t need it explained, that includes Orville fans, but there are idiots everywhere. Neither you, nor Cay have brought anything new to the existing conversations about this ‘Rape Culture’ episode. What I question, again and again, is how this falls under a conversation about misogyny, when, and I say it again, 3 of the 5 rape victims were MEN?! Showing men And women being date raped is Bold! it caused the right conversations to happen, what other show has done that? especially involving (again) Both sexes being victimized!

  21. Raymond Schachner

    This is the first season of a pretty good show and shouldn’t be compared to star trek or anything else. on its own its doing ok. like most first season shows it has to introduce cast and backgrounds. going against what I first said, STNG wasn’t all that great first season. Seth is a damn good comedy writer and i do believe given a chance this will grow into a great tv show.

    • Cay Reet

      Unfortunately, they compare themselves to Star Trek, which is why it’s fair to do so as well when you’re writing a critique.

      • WAS

        Lol really now? It seems to be the Star Trek community comparing to The Orville left and right, Star Trek fans who completely don’t get Roddenberry’s vision at that. While the MAJORITY of Star Trek fans are on board with the Orville and have absolutely no worry or need to compare them with articles like this, now months later.

  22. Cookies

    Sorry, but the idea that cheating is worse than domestic abuse doesn’t only mean that men own a woman’s sexuality, but either is applied to any gender. Think of a girlfriend who gets mad when she finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her–then she abusing him is okay? No. And if they’re two guys or gals, or a guy and a gal, abuse is NEVER justified and limited to an only gender or sexuality. It could happen in any romantic relationship. Just to point it out.

    • Sam Victors

      That still doesn’t make it good, from either gender. This website does not support girlfriends abusing their boyfriends, that still counts as a double standard. There is no justification for abuse at all.

      And Just because it could happen in any romantic relationship, it still doesn’t make it right at all.

      • daddyman

        Uh huh, uh huh, good points all, except said abuse DOES NOT OCCUR on the show. Just because someone says it did, you can feel very upright in saying “abuse in all its myriad forms is bad” and you’d be right, but, give me an example, from the show Orville, when it occurred, and make it a clear example, because it makes up a whole point in the original article. Capt. Mercer is not happy having his adulterous ex wife serving under him, does that make sense? Commander Grayson seemed to understand. His best friend doesn’t like it either, does that make sense? or is his opinion in of itself, abuse? He gossips about it, do people do that? and yet, never in the show (cause I watch the show) is Grayson given the cold shoulder, by Any crewman, where is the abuse? Cmdr. Grayson even had a very frank conversation with her ex’s best friend, one of the most immature members of the crew, and it ended amicably. conflict on any show is supposed to exist, or why watch, but abuse? Look I ain’t perfekt, I miss stuff, I have watched every episode, some twice, if you saw some ex-spousal abuse, share it with me, I’ll revisit it, if you’re just trumpeting Abuse Bad=Show Bad, because you read point #4, then I ask that you do your own research.

  23. Xelianthought

    Informative, thanks!

  24. Sam Victors

    Holy Mother of God, most commentors here are defending this show as if it were sacred or something. Look I love watching shows like Orville as well but that doesn’t mean its free of criticism, and Seth MacFarlane is not a terribly sensitive comedian, he tends to rely too much on bigotry as the joke.

    • daddyman

      The point of the criticism is stating singularly that the show is misogynistic. Go to any fansite and you will encounter fans, true fans, negatively critiquing an episode, a character, a line, etc. You of course are free to not like the Orville, Seth MacFarlane, his humor, whatever. but when you make a sweeping generalization, someone is going to say nuh uh. The show has growing pains to go through, what new show doesn’t? and if you’re not a fan of Seth’s you won’t like it cause his personality is all over it, so why watch? but if you say ‘It’s Misogynistic’ I will ask ‘really, where’?

      • Janet

        Hear, hear daddyman. I don’t see misogyny (blatant or subtle) in the Orville. But even if it did, one has to look at the show as a whole to say it’s misogynistic. About A Girl (which he didn’t mention at all) blatantly says that women have value. All of the main female characters are strong (not just physically). While the Darulio episode may have some consent issues, it treats attraction between men as normal, which is the opposite of homophobia. As a minor point, there’s a male nurse who’s not emasculated and has great problem-solving skills (he cracked the Darulio mystery).

  25. Janet

    I like most of your work Oren but a few points are taken out of context. When Alara can’t get a man because of her physical strength, I take it as a criticism of insecure men. To say it implies that her strength is a flaw is a huge stretch, especially when it’s crucial for her job. As for the “abuse” of Kelly, you leave the fact that he later treats her better. The point is that they get past their differences and work well together. As this podcast (by two feminists who like the Orville) pointed out, Kelly as a cheater could have been easily painted as the bad guy. But no, she’s a complex character.

    http://www.semanticshenanigans.com/semantic-shenanigans-show-11-goes-eleven/

  26. Michael

    From what I recall, Grayson got her admiral father to pull strings with the guy that appointed Mercer (a friend of his) so he would get that command. This stuff happens, both now and in their future apparently.

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