Star Trek: Discovery really is boldly going where no Trek series has gone before: Straight into the F-bomb zone.
Sunday’s fifth episode delivered not just one but two f-bomb payloads into the CBS All Access-sphere, with Cadet Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and Lt. Stamets (Anthony Rapp) getting the honors after the duo had a scientific breakthrough. Rapp told IndieWire they were very aware of breaking the 51-year-old franchise’s PG-rated anti-profanity streak.
“We were aware of it, we embraced it, and we had a blast with it,” the Rent actor said. “These people just put their brains to work in a really tough way and they had a breakthrough. And I imagine there are scientists in their labs who might do that any time. We didn’t drop the F-bomb in Star Trek by telling somebody to go fuck themselves. We did it by saying, ‘this is f—ing cool.'”
Previously showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg told EW they were going for a PG-13-to-R-rated vibe on Discovery since unlike the franchise’s previous iterations (which aired on broadcast or in syndication) they were on a premium streaming service where anything goes. Still, the producers said they’ll draw the line at any significant nudity and will be careful about staying on brand for Trek.
“Every writer’s impulse when you get to work on the streaming shows with no parameters is to go crazy,” Harberts said. “But then you look at things like: How does nudity play on Trek? Eh, it feels weird. How does a lot of [profanity] on Trek? Not so great. Are there moments where it merits it that we’re trying to push here and there? I would say we’re trying to push more by having the type of complicated messed-up characters who aren’t necessarily embraced on broadcast.”
The use brings to mind another Trek-inspired TV sci-fi series, Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica, which famously got around the restrictions of basic cable by having its characters use “frak.”
Star Trek: Discovery has prided itself on modernizing the franchise with the saga’s first black female lead (Sonequa Martin-Green), first openly gay character in a series version of the show (Rapp), first serialized story, and more. The show airs on All Access on Sunday nights.