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Star Trek: Discovery

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Star Trek: Discovery TV Poster Image
Darker, more violent Trek still has positive messages.
 Popular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 25 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

A welcome addition to the Star Trek franchise, with women of color in roles of power. Strong themes of acting on your ideals even when it contradicts popular opinion. Also teamwork, individual responsibility, and being inspired by mentors. Brief mention of race and prejudice, but no follow-up. The idea that violence can be used to keep peace is broached.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Michael is a trailblazer both as the first human to have attended the Vulcan Science Academy within the story and (along with her superior) as a woman of color in a lead role in the Star Trek franchise. She's logical, fearless, and strong under pressure, willing to do what needs to be done even when the decision is difficult. Even so, she engages in mutiny on her own instincts alone and possibly exposes them to more danger in the process.



Explosions, fires, and other dangers to starships. Personal weapons like phasers are used in combat. Some scares and surprises, and constant threat of danger. Also some gore, including a distorted human face after a disturbing alien attack. Klingons are quite a bit more intimidating in this iteration than in past ones. Main characters die. A human character is raped and abused by a Klingon female. 


Gay and straight couples live on the ship together; their relationships include kissing. A Klingon has a sexual relationship with a human that's based on a power differential and is not consensual. 


In a mid-season episode, ship scientists use "f--king" to exclaim about a successful project. Swearing also includes occasional uses of "s--t," "goddamn," etc.


This series joins the prolific Star Trek franchise of entertainment and merchandise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Star Trek: Discovery is a prequel to Star Trek: The Original Series. The story is set 10 years before Kirk and Spock first embark on the USS Enterprise and sees the start of the battle between the Federation and the Klingons. Expect plenty of violence in the form of explosions and phaser fights, with multiple prominent character deaths. The story also raises questions regarding authority and subservience in war. Happily, there's a strong female lead in Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), who's unflappable under pressure. This series benefits from modern visual effects and diverse casting and is likely to have appeal even for sci-fi fans who aren't Trekkies yet.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDonna B. September 26, 2017

Pilot was tv-14, subsequent episodes are TV-MA!

This is not a show for children. TV-MA equates to an NC 17 or R rating at the movie theater. It's a shame because when STEM programs are so sought after fo... Continue reading
Parent of a 13 and 13 year old Written byPhil G. October 16, 2017

F Word Used In First Star Trek Episode

We've just finished watching the latest episode of the family space drama Star Trek Discovery. My kids hadn't seen any of the previous versions except... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMovieFan14 November 14, 2017

Star Trek takes a darker turn... but is that really a bad thing?

Star Trek has always been ahead of its time and dealt with some mature, modern themes. Discovery is no exception, but in today's world, which is pretty dep... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bynate12621 October 5, 2017

Nothing inappropriate, not even sure why its rated TV-MA

The first episode was rated TV-14, subsequent episodes rated TV-MA. I have no idea why this is, the "maturity" of episodes after the pilot is the exac... Continue reading

What's the story?

In STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, a routine mission takes a fateful turn when the Starship Shenzhou encounters a mysterious presence near a damaged Federation probe. Determined to learn more, Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) persuades Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) to let her check it out. In so doing, she engages a member of the Klingon race not seen or heard from in more than a century, and inadvertently gives away Starfleet's proximity. This launches the crew into an epic battle with their longtime enemy and its formidable leader, T'Kuvma (Chris Obi).

Is it any good?

Set 10 years before the story told in the original TV series, this sci-fi adventure gets a boost from two modern factors: absorbing special effects (including Klingon makeup) and cast diversity. The story doesn't break much ground -- save for a few surprises here and there -- but it does an excellent job linking itself through Michael to the tale of the Enterprise and its crew that's no doubt indelible memory for Trekkie fans.

Its arrival as a prequel to the classic series that boldly went where no man had gone before is fortuitous for non-Trekkies whose introduction to the events of the mid-20th century is Star Trek: Discovery. Rather than feeling like you have to backtrack to understand who's who and what's what, with a few basic facts (Sarek is Spock's dad as well as Michael's mentor, for instance), you're able to see connections between the two stories start to emerge.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the idea of right and wrong in a story like Star Trek: Discovery. Is it always easy to identify the good guys and the bad guys, or is that distinction subjective? Does this story allow the Klingons to be sympathetic characters? If so, does that change your impression of the Federation's actions?

  • What qualities make Michael a role model? Do her actions ever contradict that distinction? How does it feel when someone you look up to disappoints you by what he or she says or does?

  • If you have seen other Star Trek shows or movies, compare them to this one. Besides the modern advances in visual effects, does this story eclipse the others in another way? Does it do enough to make connections between itself and the original series, or does it work better as its own show?

  • How do characters in this series show courage? Why is this an important character strength

TV details

Character Strengths

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