Star Trek: Discovery breaks new ground in representation for the franchise. The series not only has the franchise's first lead woman of color, but also its first gay couple.
That couple is Paul Stamets, played by Anthony Rapp, and Hugh Culber, played by Wilson Cruz. The showrunners are handling the relationship with care, as they tell The Advocate.
Showrunner Aaron Harberts sees gay couples being “sexualized right out of the gate" in TV and film. Because of this, the writers wanted a "slow rollout" of the relationship.
Showrunner Gretchen J. Berg says she wants them to achieve a "transcendent" story. She and the writers have "a vision of a homosexual relationship that is rarely given" in the mainstream.
As for the actors themselves, Rapp says he's not much like his character.
“The character’s a little edgy and persnickety — ornery in some ways — and I’m not really,” he says.
Cruz gets the appeal. “[My character finds] that he’s opinionated, or persnickety, or confident in his beliefs incredibly attractive."
“I recognize right away that he could handle my persnicketiness. It was like he let me be myself,” Rapp adds. “We allow each other to be ourselves, and I like the softer sides. It’s a balance thing.”
“Opposites attract,” Cruz said. “He’s very focused on his work. I try to balance his work life by infusing some love and support. Their relationship is one of mutual admiration and respect for each other’s genius.”
“In the Star Trek community, they’ve been hungry for that kind of representation,” Rapp said.
“Our culture is diverse, and so why shouldn’t our stories reflect that?” said Cruz.
Stamets and Culber are likely entering a difficult period in their relationship based on the state of Stamets in the midseason finale of Star Trek: Discovery. After performing a series of 133 jumps using the Discovery’s experimental spore drive, Stamets’ 134th jump left him nearly catatonic and with milky white eyes. It also left the USS Discovery stranded in an uncharted region of space.
New Star Trek: Discovery episodes become available to stream Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS All Access.