When it came to the creation of Star Trek: Lower Decks, series creator Mike McMahan originally considered it a dream project that would never see the light of day. The director sat with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about the series and brought up the show’s creation. McMahan, a longtime Trekkie, had always wanted to do a show set in the world of the cultural phenomenon. But he considered it “the dream he didn’t think was possible.”
“When I got a call to go in and pitch an animated show to Alex Kurtzman at Secret Hideout, Aaron Baiers brought me in and we had been assistants at 20th Century together back in 2008 when I was writing a Star Trek Twitter (about a fictional 8th season of Next Generation.)… (And) I told him going in, ‘I’m going to come in and pitch the only Star Trek show that I have the skill set to make, but you will never make it. So, apologies in advance.’ And he was like, ‘Shut up, just come in and pitch.’ It wasn’t even a pitch. It was just a meeting to chat with Alex. And Alex just asked me, ‘what would your dream Star Trek be?’ And I literally just laid out exactly what Lower Decks was off the top of my head, not even preparing. Just going in and being like, well, ‘I’d want it to be about the lower decks and I’d want it be in the Next Generation era. I would want it to feel like this, with this type of art.’ And he turned to one of his executives and said, ‘Well, I guess we have another Star Trek show because we have to make that.’”
Star Trek: Lower Decks is an adult animated series that sets itself apart from other previous shows in the franchise. While most shows follow a brave captain and their crew on the bridge of the starship, Lower Decks follows a group of crew members that occupy the ship’s lower decks and do the dirty and menial jobs. Meanwhile, the captain and senior staff are delegated to the supporting cast.
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When Lower Decks made its grand premiere in 2020, fans were initially split on the idea. While it wasn’t the first Star Trek animated series, the more comedic tone caused a stir among certain fans. McMahan touched on those concerns with The Hollywood Reporter.
“I think that Star Trek fans are so protective of this thing that they love, that when a new thing shows up, instinctively, we’re like, ‘What is this?’ We’ve aired 20 episodes, and now we’re about to have another 10 air. And just in 20 episodes, I’ve seen people go from, ‘Oh no, a funny Star Trek cartoon, that’s going to make me sad,’ to being like, ‘Oh, my comfort show! The thing that made me feel better in the pandemic, the thing that makes me so happy.’ All of us on the show are here to make people have that feeling — to make you laugh, to make you want to talk about the episode, to quote it, to cosplay it. We’re trying to do a thing that people love. And it feels like we’ve gone from ‘Oh, no, what is this?’ to ‘This is one of my favorite Star Treks.’”
Star Trek: Lower Decks is currently on its third season, with a fourth one ordered by Paramount. The characters from Lower Decks are set to cross over into Star Trek: Strange New Worlds in an upcoming episode, with Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid playing live-action versions of their characters, Beckett Marinier and Brad Boimler McMahan expressed excitement for the upcoming episode and said that while schedules couldn’t let him visit the set, he was able to “punch up the script” and help make sure that the episode “felt like Lower Decks.” The show is currently streaming on Paramount+ with new episodes premiering every Thursday.