TV Review - The Orville
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy and American Dad!) stars as Ed Mercer, the Captain of the USS Orville, a space ship not unlike the Enterprise with a mission to explore the galaxy. It's 2418 and Ed takes command of the Orville after a year of being depressed and drunk, which came as a result of his divorce. He's dumbfounded when the first officer assigned to him is his ex-wife, Kelly Grayson, played by Adrianne Palicki (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Friday Night Lights). It's awkward at first, which adds a little to the humor, but the two must learn to work together and maybe rekindle things.
There's a robot character that seems like he could be an interesting take on robots, but the most interesting and perhaps controversial characters on the show are Bortus, played by Peter Macon, and Klyden, played by Chad L. Coleman. Bortus and Klyden are Moclans, a single-gender race, meaning there are only men, so when they mate, it's men marrying and sleeping with men.
Given that Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture this year, it's great to see this TV show furthering that kind of representation, which is sorely lacking in mainstream media. Moonlight depicted same-sex attraction between two African-American men. Both actors here are African-American men, so depicting them as a couple and expressing romantic love in that way is refreshing. Yes, Empire has done so as well, but spreading that kind of representation is important.
Some critics say that the argument utilized in the episode misses the point of what transgender people want. The episode makes a feminist argument that women are equal to men, but critics say that the argument embraces old stereotypes, which possibly hurt the case in the meta-textual sense. Critics say that the argument should have been to let the child decide what gender it wants to be and then let the child be that, loving him or her. Yet, the episode stresses simply women are as good as men. It doesn't take a misanthropic position but stresses female power instead of a more gender neutral view.
At the end of the episode, Ed finds a Moclan named Heveena who is the only female Moclan. Heveena testifies as being happy about who she is despite the gender norms that everyone wants to put on her. Bortus eventually agrees that imposing gender norms on his child is wrong, even though Klyden disagrees. Those points are not minor, and I appreciated this series for those points.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Thursdays at 9PM on FOX.