It's mind-boggling given the consistent pushback of the Star Trek franchise largely from conservatives since it never waivered from its identity as a progressive series since The Original Series premiere in 1966. In fact, several NBC affiliates, particularly in the South, refused to air the season three episode "Plato's Stepchildren" in November 1968 because it featured an interracial kiss between Kirk (William Shatner) and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). It was a question one fan asked Discovery stars Blu del Barrio, Wilson Cruz, Anthony Rapp, and Picard's Michelle Hurd at Dragon Con in Atlanta about what they had to say to those who feel the franchise is being too progressive.
"'Star Trek' is defined as infinite diversity in infinite combinations," Cruz said. "If that's true, and if that is our aim, progress towards that has to be modeled. That's what science-fiction does for us, it helps us imagine what that's going to look like … and that is inherently political." The franchise has endured in its over 55-year existence from its original network appearance, and since thrived on cinema, syndication with several spinoffs, and even made a return to network television with Voyager and Enterprise on UPN before making its triumphant return in the streaming era for Paramount+.
From TOS through its latest series in Strange New Worlds, Star Trek has never been afraid to tackle sociopolitical issues regardless of the current climate. "What I want is new fans," said Leo Visentin, assistant director for the "Star Trek" convention track. "I want the franchise to grow and continue and be inspiring to people because it is important, and the things that it talks about are social commentaries and are important. Getting new fans is probably the most important part of the process. Because otherwise, you know, if you're just appeasing old fans, they get cranky, and then it goes and dies."
"I don't think they necessarily feel like we're… feeling the weight of Paramount," Hurd said. "Paramount was smart to create this and to back this and to support this because we are speaking the moral truth." For more, including Hurd's work on the Crown Act, the cameo from Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, & more, check out the complete Variety piece here.