The Orville: MacFarlane on Timing of Abortion, LGBTQ Themes & More

When The Orville: New Horizons filmed season three for Hulu, the timing of certain episodes wasn't lost on creator and star Seth MacFarlane even if it wasn't premeditated given current events. In the episode "Gently Falling Rain," a couple of themes that emerged were insurrection (as hearings are being held by the January 6th Committee about the attack on the US Capitol) and abortion (in light of the recent SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe V Wade). MacFarlane spoke with TV Line about the relevance of the Hulu series and how the episode's themes unexpectedly mirrored all-too-well what's currently going on in society.

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Mark Jackson and Imani Pullum in The Orville: New Horizons. Image courtesy of Hulu / 20th Century Studios

"Yeah, that was an interesting and unfortunate coincidence [on 'Gently Falling Rain' airing the day before Roe was overturned]. I think we wrote that script two years ago…? And of all times for it to land, it was pretty insane," MacFarlane said. "There's a great essay that was written by Karl Sagan and Ann Druyan in the '90s, specifically about Roe v. Wade, and I would sound like an idiot if I tried to paraphrase it here. But it was written from a scientific perspective, really breaking down the biology of how abortion works and drawing the conclusion that the specifics of Roe v. Wade — just not the existence of it, but the specifics of it — were prudent and made a lot of a sense. It's something that I always try to post on social media periodically when I think of it."

The Orville: Seth MacFarlane on Abortion, LGBT Stories Timing & More
Charlie Townsend and Seth MacFarlane in The Orville: New Horizons. Image courtesy of Hulu / 20th Century Studios

The episode featured a holographic simulation generated by the Krill where parents who went through the abortion would see what their child could have looked like and interact with them. "In some states, you hear rumblings — if I were more educated as far as specific legislation, I could tell you which specific states — about the woman being forced to look at an ultrasound of her fetus before an abortion is allowed, which is pretty perverse," MacFarlane explained. "It's a very bizarre concept, and you can imagine a future society looking at it, going, 'Wow, what in the world is happening here?' When we wrote the episode, that was really the impetus for that wrinkle in their culture — how would a future society like Krill employ this kind of practice, with the technology of the future? This idea of extracting DNA and forcing the parents to sit and talk to "the child that could have been" seemed like a pretty potent science-fiction idea worth presenting."

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Peter Macon and Chad L. Coleman in The Orville ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Michael Becker/FOX

In "A Tale of Two Topas" Imani Pullum plays Topa, the child of Lt. Bortus (Peter Macon) and Clyden (Chad L. Coleman), who suffers from gender dysphoria as she was originally born female before a Moclan procedure left her as a male. Battling cultural norms and Planetary Union apathy, Topa found herself near-suicidal as the truth about her origins is being kept away. "For an adult actor, that would have been a huge challenge, and she just knocked it out of the park. Everyone was so impressed with her," MacFarlane said. "It's a testament to any guest actor on a show that's in its third season, that if you can come on board and carry an episode and hold the audience's attention and really establish your character with such force and such power, you're doing something right. She was just fantastic." For more on how MacFarlane thinks it would play out on broadcast TV, the future of Bortus and Clyden, what the future holds for the series & more, you can check out the complete interview here. The Orville: New Horizons streams Thursdays on Hulu.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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