Star Trek Guide

Why Star Trek Fans So Dislike Lower Decks

The irreverent and divisive Star Trek: Lower Decks has an uphill battle to win over the franchise's notoriously picky fan base. The animated series debuted on CBS All Access to much fanfare, but the show immediately polarized fans. Created by Rick and Morty veteran Mike McMahan, Lower Decks shares more than a little DNA with that Adult Swim behemoth, especially in its brilliant but troubled lead character, Ensign Mariner; she evokes Rick Sanchez in some fundamental ways, though she seems to lack Rick's cynicism and deep, dark pathos.

Some fans simply believe an animated comedy is a poor fit for Star Trek, and dislike Lower Decks on principle, but most criticisms of Lower Decks have been more pointed. The crew of the USS Cerritos is, with very little competition, the least impressive Starfleet crew ever seen onscreen. That's by design, of course - the whole point of the series is that it chronicles a minor Federation ship and crew.

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But some fans feel the manic, irreverent tone flies in the face of what Star Trek is supposed to be - earnest, hopeful, and showcasing humanity's great potential. It's tough to see much of humanity's potential in the guy who cleans out the replicators on the USS Cerritos when they keep popping out hot bananas. There's also a certain lack of basic respect for the chain of command that's present in Lower Decks; Mariner gets away with a lot of insubordinate behavior that wouldn't fly on a ship like the Enterprise. Again, that's part of the premise with a lowly ship like the Cerritos, but it has rubbed some fans the wrong way.

This is a normal part of the growing pains virtually every Star Trek series has experienced. With the exception of Star Trek: The Original Series, every iteration of the franchise has come in for criticism from the fan base, especially in the early seasons. It wasn't so long ago that Star Trek: The Next Generation was seen as a pale imitation of TOS, but by the show's later seasons it had become a cultural phenomenon, surpassing even the heights of TOS's syndication rejuvenation in the 1970s.

The J.J. Abrams reboot films are often unfairly dismissed as flashy action films that fundamentally reaffirm the accepted idea that Star Trek is always weaker as a film franchise. The Kelvinverse movies are also criticized for borrowing more from Star Wars than the rich history of Star Trek. And while the franchise's natural home is on the small screen, CBS All Access' Star Trek offerings have endured plenty of criticism as well, particularly Star Trek: Discovery's lumpy first season.

Star Trek is currently enjoying a renaissance on CBS All Access, with Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and Lower Decks all currently in production, with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Star Trek: Prodigy, and Star Trek: Section 31 all in different phases of development. There's a lot of Star Trek right now, and not all of it is going to appeal to every fan. But Star Trek: Lower Decks deserves a chance to prove itself, even if it slightly bends the rules of what we generally associate with the franchise.