• Star Trek: Discovery Boldly Going…Into F-Bombs

    by  • October 16, 2017 • CBS, Profanity, Streaming • 42 Comments

    Star Trek Discovery

    The CBS All Access series betrays the franchise’s family-friendly roots. 


    Star Trek is a global phenomenon of science-fiction. The classic 1960s TV series became an American icon though constant reruns, and sparked not only more than a dozen theatrical movies, but also multiple sequel TV series, from Star Trek: The Next Generation through Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. In fact, from 1987 through 2005, there was at least one Star Trek series airing original episodes on American TV.

    Now, after a decade-plus absence, Star Trek is back on the small screen…but it’s a far cry from the family-friendly program of years past. While produced by CBS, the new series Star Trek: Discovery is not airing on the CBS broadcast network. Rather, the network is using the series to push its own new streaming service, CBS All Access…a new first for the time-honored franchise.

    But using extortion for faithful Trekkies to get their fix is not Discovery’s only innovation. In addition to introducing yet another alternate timeline (after that of the previous TV series’, and the one introduced in the recent theatrical movie “reboot”), one including yet another new look for the Klingons and different uniforms and technology for Starfleet, Discovery is also journeying where no Star Trek has gone before – the use of the f-word.

    On the new series’ fifth episode, “Choose Your Pain,” a  nervous new cadet on her first mission blurts, “This is so f**ing cool!” Her superior officer replies, “It IS f**king cool.”

    Even worse than the utterly gratuitous, inappropriate, and meaningless use of harsh profanity were the sanctimonious comments made by Discovery’s co-showrunner Aaron Harberts afterward. After his program made a mockery of Star Trek’s fifty-year record of family-friendly TV, Harberts claimed that “What’s important to the creative team is the legacy of the show, which is passed down from mother to daughter, from father to son, from brother to brother. We want to make sure we’re not creating a show that fans can’t share with their families. You have to honor what the franchise is.”

    On classic Star Trek, when Captain Kirk demanded more power from the Enterprise’s engines, Scotty didn’t snarl, “I’m givin’ ye all I f***in’ can!” Nor, when confronted with an alien phenomenon, did Mr. Spock arch his eyebrow and softly exclaim, “F***king fascinating!”

    But apparently, Aaron Harberts and his allegedly “creative” team believe they should have…because to them, showing Star Trek characters spewing the f-word is “honoring what the franchise is” and demonstrating “the legacy of the show, passed down from mother to daughter.”

    It is beyond tragic that the Star Trek franchise – which over the years has given so many children their first exposure to science-fiction, and which literally three generations of families have been able to share together – has now declared itself off-limits to kids, earning its TV-MA rating by choosing to revel in explicit profanity and darker-than-dark storylines (all while having the temerity to charge people to watch it).

    A much better bet for sci-fi-loving families is Seth MacFarlane’s Trek-inspired series on Fox, The Orville — which, while not 100% ideal for kids, is much closer to the tone, sensibility, and storytelling of classic Trek than Discovery’s pathetic attempts at being “edgy” and “adult.”

    Yes, you read that right: a series by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is cleaner and safer for children than an episode of the new Star Trek.

    How the mighty have fallen.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    42 Responses to Star Trek: Discovery Boldly Going…Into F-Bombs

    1. Laura D.
      April 30, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      IMHO, ‘Star Trek’ must be scraping the bottom of the barrel if they need to use that language on their newest

    2. Georgi Malchov
      August 5, 2018 at 12:57 am

      Good news, PTC! Sir Patrick Stewart is returning to the Star Trek franchise!

      The actor, who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard on The Next Generation, will reprise that role in a brand new series that “follows the next chapter in Picard’s life”. It is exciting news for those who grew up watching TNG(and Star Trek in general). The only downside is that the series will be on CBS All Access, which already has explicit originals like The Good Fight, a spinoff of The Good Wife, No Activity, which featured a censored s-word in promotional material, and Strange Angel, which has a sexually-charged premise

      Nor is this the only Star Trek series on All Access. As season 2 of Discovery won’t arrive until “early 2019″, the platform, which only launched 4 years ago, is giving us Short Treks, a series of 10-15-minute episodes which will be released monthly stsrting in September. And during season 1 of Discovery, after every episode there was an aftershow called After Trek, in which host Matt Mira discusses episodes of Discovery with guests including celebrity fans, cast members and crew members.

      So yeah, we’ll now have 4(!) Star Trek series on CBS All Access: Discovery, After Trek, Short Treks and the upcoming Picard series. And that’s not even counting the franchise’s back catalogue of series and movies which are already available on the platform!

      Even though TNG fans are heartwarmed by yesterday’s announcement, there is a possibility that the yet-untitled series will be awash with strong language, explicit violence, raunchy sex scenes and blacker than black plots, earning a TV-MA rating

    3. Wabba69
      November 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Profanity is not meaningless. It is not an indicator of low vocabulary or stupidity. When people use profanity, in most cases it is an indicator of anger/contempt/frustration/hatred. In other cases, people use profanity because it’s the only way to get the attention of others or because it’s the only way they can fit in.

      If you want to fight profanity, you should survey people who use profanity frequently and ask them why they do so. Then make a list of the top 10 reasons people use profanity, and divide and conquer, suggesting an alternative action for each reason. I say this because if you try to discourage profanity or any other thought process/behavior and start off by listing a bunch of myths/old wives’ tales/urban legends/conspiracy theories instead of the real reasons for those thought processes/behaviors, your audience will ignore/dismiss you because they are convinced you don’t have a clue.

      I guarantee you, when you ask people why they use profanity, none of them will say:
      “Because I saw it on TV.”
      “Because I have a low vocabulary.”
      “Because I heard it on the radio.”
      “Because I’m stupid.”

    4. Zapper
      November 6, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      Putting this version of Star Trek on a streaming service instead of a broadcast network just so they can include the f-word is sad. But tragic? I don’t think so. The murders of 58 people in Las Vegas were tragic. Calling the choice of CBS to distribute Star Trek over a streaming service and use the f-word tragic is extremely disrespectful/insensitive towards people who have had to witness real tragedies. Not everyone who hears the f-word out loud repeats it. My father said the f-word frequently when he got mad. But I have never said the f-word out loud or written it. All who survived what happened in Las Vegas on October 1st are going to have nightmares for the rest of their lives as a result.

      Think more about your choice of words before critiquing the choice of words of others.

    5. Some Guy on the Internet
      October 27, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      Luckily its not on the REAL CBS networks. All Access is trash and barely used by families.

    6. Vicky
      October 27, 2017 at 11:04 am

      It is disgusting. I cannot believe we are losing the battle with profanity. I do pray for redemption of our Airwaves from the carnal people in charge right now. Sadly Vidangel the one place we could choose to watch a movie without ANY profane language or carnal nudity, is now having to regroup because Hollywood would NOT leave them alone. They just hate to see something wholesome thrive. So now that Netflix is only offering garbage, we dropped them. Pretty soon we will be listening to radio or going to Church for the only wholesome content we can find. Let’s fight harder!!

    7. XZ
      October 26, 2017 at 10:18 am

      I have one small question. Why does everybody complain about profanity in television, but nobody complains about profanity in books? There are several books out there that would be rated R by the MPAA if they were movie screenplays because they use the F-word multiple times. The book “Presto” by Penn Jillette is one such example.

      Why is television considered the root of all evil, whereas written literature does not have the same stigma?

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        October 26, 2017 at 11:29 am

        Because one has to deliberately choose to open a book and invest the effort in reading the words. TV is beamed into every living room in America, and children can hear the profanity even if they’re just flipping channels.

    8. Lee Humphrey
      October 23, 2017 at 6:01 am

      There’s no place and no need for obscenities in movies, especially the f-word (which really is just another word for rape, and women and children are most vulnerable). And I agree that Star Trek’s use of this obscenity certainly “dumbs down” a classic, intelligent show.

    9. Emily Whitesell
      October 23, 2017 at 5:32 am

      NO and Double NO. I am so sick and tired of trying to watch a movie with a good story and it be ruin with profanity. Can’t even watch anything on TV hardly except things that were made before the 90s.

    10. Vicki Germer
      October 22, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      I think this is appalling

    11. Stephen Bauer
      October 22, 2017 at 5:06 pm

      Sad. More and more people even in academia and corporate are using the F bomb and think they are “cool.” It sounds really low life to me. I have heard teens and college people do the same. The term, “swearing like a truck driver”, doesn’t work anymore. I was a trucker for 45 years and seldom heard that kind of trash talk. So no, I don’t think it is a good idea for Star Trek. This is one more effort at shock effect.

    12. Pat
      October 22, 2017 at 11:22 am

      The F word is nothing more than an old English acronym for Fornication Using Carnal Knowledge, which was a crime in old England. I’d much rather hear it than I would the word Screw or screw up, which is a vulgar alternative for a sex act. I’d also rather hear it than God’s Holy Name being used in vain, which has become common now on mainstream tv 10p and after. I and my family miss many a good story line due to this problem. Heck with the F word.. they use vulgar words for private parts, talk a out masturbation, and other vulgar language. Fight them using God’s Name in vain and I’m all on board. Some good tv shows are going over to the all access channels just so they can be free to mock God and use vulnar language and I won’t pay extra for that filth

    13. Mark
      October 22, 2017 at 11:20 am

      I am glad I was sitting down when I read this. Frankly, I don’t know whether I am livid or tearful right now… I could swing either way. Star Trek (the original and Next Generation) were shows that meant a lot to me. Part of it was that it was in outer space, the great technology, all the adventures, but most importantly, I saw how the crew got along, even if they had their minor spats and quirks along the way.

      It truly was a good family show. Occasionally it dealt with moral themes: when/when not to interfere with other cultures, how to best deal with disputes, getting along with your crewmates, and so forth. Sure, some shows were just goofy “fight scenes”, and yes, the “new guy” on the transporter usually was killed by the hostile alien, but okay, I won’t argue it.

      But the FEEL of these shows was good-natured and there always was lots and lots of HUMOR. You just got to know who these characters were and enjoyed them.

      I am 52 years old and I feel like so many of the things which I considered good, even sacred, are now being torn apart. I love my (old) Star Trek, but this new one I can sum in one word: OY! (Yup, that’s the word). It seems like almost every movie or tv show is “dark and dreary”, or it is goofy-silly; it’s one extreme or the other. There is rarely anything “nice” to watch. So, I watch reruns of my old shows, but I admit I am bored of them now (I have seen them so many times).

      We are collectively going down a wrong path and, sadly, I can’t help but to wonder if all the real violence we see in the news somehow correlates with all the fake violence we see on tv and in the movies. To me, it seems like a “no brainer”, but I can’t prove anything.

    14. Tom
      October 22, 2017 at 10:50 am

      When an adult sci-fy comedy like The Orville is safer for kids than a true “Franchise” Star Trek, it is indeed a sad day. My wife and I watched the first airing of Star Trek: Discovery and found it hard to get through, and felt let down. We gave it another try and never again! I hope those at CBS loose their shirts over this garbage.

    15. w_tskinner@bellsouth.net
      October 22, 2017 at 10:38 am

      NO!!!! How totally uncouth and immature.

    16. Rodney Starr
      October 22, 2017 at 10:12 am

      No. It should never be allowed. We watch mostly reruns and old movies. Hollywood is mostly producing garbage.

    17. Joyce Baskind
      October 22, 2017 at 10:07 am

      I had been of the opinion that swearing was simply not part of anyone’s vocabulary in the Star Trek universe as shown in the classic series.
      I would like to hope that this outburst of profanity is an exception, rather than the rule, going forward on Discovery.

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