How Star Trek: Lower Decks Reflects Fans Back at Themselves

This week, Star Trek: Lower Decks debuted on CBS All Access, introducing Star Trek fans to a new [...]

This week, Star Trek: Lower Decks debuted on CBS All Access, introducing Star Trek fans to a new cast of characters aboard the USS Cerritos. These characters may feel familiar to longtime Star Trek fans. That's because, as ensigns still early in their Starfleet careers, they're as enthusiastic about exploring the Star Trek universe as the people who watch the show. spoke to Star Trek: Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan and star Tawny Newsome, who plays Ensign Beckett Mariner, ahead of the series premiere. McMahan says they didn't set out to make a show that reflected Star Trek fans, but that's what the show became.

"We didn't go into it thinking we were going to do that," McMahan says. "It's just when we were writing these characters that love Starfleet but are a part of a larger world; it was impossible to not have them be geeking out for the same stuff that we all geek out over. If any of us were in a timeline where Data existed, how would we not all love Data? It's so easy to be a fan of Starfleet when you're in Starfleet, and that's a lot of the joy.

"When we were trying to find the comedic voice fo the show, it got so much easier once we realized that of course, the lower deckers would be huge fans of the thing that they're in because when you're in a comedy writers' room or Tawny, when you're doing improv and stand up and when you're doing your music stuff, you only do this stuff because you geek out over all of it. And Starfleet officers geek out over everything. They're all about knowledge and passing along information, and how could they not be geeking out over Kirk or Scotty or anybody? It just ended up fitting so well that it felt shocking that nobody had ever explored Starfleet officers that are huge fans of Star Trek within the world."

For Newsome, this reminds her of working in live comedy and music. "That's what felt the most real to me about it as the season shaped up. When you're in a band or something or when you get done doing comedy, you get offstage, and then you're back in the green room talking about other bands, or you're listening to a new release by an artist you love or something or talking about a new show because you're aspiring to get somewhere but also, if you truly love what you do, then you love the people who are excelling at it. So even Mariner in her snarky weird little way, she does truly love it and loves everyone who's gone on to do great things."

McMahan adds that "Mariner's the classic, young, amazing at what she does, knows everything about it, was shown the system and is now like, 'I can do this better,' but everybody who's in her rank and her age, sometimes you can't break the system until you get to the top of it and that's always so frustrating. But it's coming from an honest place. It's coming from a place of love, not a place of disliking Starfleet."

New episodes of Star Trek: Lower Decks debut on Thursdays on CBS All Access.