It’s been a long time since a Star Trek television show felt like it was really going where no one had gone before — or even to relatively infrequently visited places. Although the original 1966 series dared to feature an interracial kiss, the franchise as a whole missed the boat on LGBT representation until it was already mainstream. And between Star Trek: Enterprise and the reboot films, the Trek series has spent the last decade flailing around in lackluster retreads of its own tropes.
But in the November 12th episode “Into the Forest I Go” Star Trek: Discovery explored a subject that few mainstream shows have had the guts to tackle meaningfully: the rape and sexual abuse of men. The subject is even more important amid the current conversation about sexual assault, inspired by an avalanche of accusations in the entertainment industry, which are still rolling out at a feverish pitch.
Most of these accusations have been made by women against powerful men, but Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp is a reminder that women are not the only victims of predatory sexual advances. Rapp, who plays science officer Lieutenant Paul Stamets, recently accused actor Kevin Spacey, 12 years his senior, of attempting to sexually assault him when he was only 14. Like Rose McGowan’s accusations against Harvey Weinstein, Rapp’s story set off a cascade of reports from more than a dozen other men who say Spacey assaulted them, which led to Netflix cutting ties with the House of Cards star and Ridley Scott replacing Spacey in a completed film. The accusations may even result in criminal charges for Spacey.