Star Trek changed my life. I am fortunate because I have a Star Trek spiritual guide who has been leading me through the vast amount of material. I am no where near being finished all of the Star Trek series; here is a brief rundown of what exists:
The Original Series (TOS)
The Animated Series (TAS)
The Next Generation (TNG)
Deep Space Nine (DS9)
The TOS movies. I-VI
The TNG movies, VII-X
The Alternate Reality movies (XI-XIII)
I am on a mission to encourage people to watch Star Trek. I’m writing this list after watching TOS, TNG, and the movies I-V.
- The 60’s version of the future.
TOS aired from 1966-1969, and it is set in the 23rd century. There is something hilarious and cute about the way people living in the 60’s imagined the future. Blinking, multi-colored lights abound, as well as evidence of technology we use today: computers, cell phones, bluetooth.
- The 80’s version of the future.
Similarly, TNG aired from 1987-1994, and the 24th century is modeled after a version of the future based on the 80’s. The technology is more streamline and “cool” looking, with touch screens, “ipads”, and communicators that are attached to the uniform. The uniforms themselves, different from the short skirts of the 60’s, are now spandex bodysuits.
- Diversity among the cast.
Not only are there aliens of all colors, sizes, and shapes, but the human characters in Star Trek are refreshingly diverse. People of color occupy command positions, something that was a first during the run of TOS; Nichelle Nichols was the first black woman to play a vital role and kiss a white man in a television series. TNG continues to highlight this diversity, and DS9 features a black commander/capitan.
- Metaphoric confrontations of real issues.
Star Trek takes place in the future, in space, with aliens. However the plot and themes are very often representations of real, contemporary, Earth problems. Racism, sexism, ableism, xenophobia, and violence are all challenged by the crew of the starships.
- A hopeful vision of the future.
Star Trek presents one of the most exciting prospects for the future of Earth and humanity. In this universe, in the 23rd and 24th centuries, humans are a peaceful race; they have solved the “old” problems of Earth (war, poverty, etc) and now seek non-violent interaction with other species in the galaxy.
- Beautiful friendships.
Relationships on the starship are often put to the test because of long voyages, cramped space, and difficult missions. Despite this, the friendships that exist among the crew flourish, even across the boundaries of different species. Kirk and Spock, Data and Geordi, Deanna Troi and Picard.
- Alien races and ideas.
Star Trek constantly challenges its viewers to analyze and understand any given situation, especially in regards to an alien race and their customs. Star Trek is built on respect for all forms of life, whether we as humans understand it or not. It offers us a unique opportunity to open our minds in ways we may have never thought of before.
- Appreciation of all life.
Along the same lines, Star Trek places it’s highest values on life forms of any variety. Though the show is typically seen through a human’s eyes, it does not place any higher worth on human life, as opposed to say, a Klingon’s life. We are able to connect with other “humanoid” life forms (like the Klingons) but Star Trek also encourages us to seek understanding of life that is an energy source, or made of atoms that we have no knowledge of.
- Science Fiction that is potentially real.
Star Trek may be sci-fi, but it is also not far from reality. Much of the technology used on the starships is actually being experimented with by scientists today, like the transporters (although on a much smaller scale). As mentioned before, in TOS the use of “communicators” (which look exactly like flip-phones) and in TNG the use of devices that function like an iPad.
- Intelligent and serious, also funny and loving.
This is my favorite quality of Star Trek. Disregarding the science fiction aspect, Star Trek is a story about relationships, exploration, compassion, and personal growth. The way the characters interact with themselves is equally as important as how they interact with others. There are elements of the story that are dark and grave, yet we are shown again and again that mental strength, from within and from others, is possible, and moving forward is possible.
I suppose there are several key elements within these qualities that have attached me so deeply to Star Trek. Growing, changing, learning, and moving forward are exactly the things I search as I live with mental illness. I am so passionate and intensely excited about Star Trek because it has ignited those flames within me.