Parents' Guide to

Star Trek: The Original Series

By Jane Boursaw, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

A cultural icon that's lived long and prospered.

Star Trek: The Original Series Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 12 parent reviews

age 8+

A revolutionary tv show

I grew up watching this show on a black and white tv from age 6. Some episodes scared the crap out of me but that's how caught up I was in the story, especially for watching it in black and white! My imagination filled in the rest! And that's why I consider this one of the best tv shows out there: it conveyed the story without flashiness and completely engaged the viewer. That being said, I want to point out (after having read many of the comments here) that one cannot view every aspect of the show through the eyes of someone in 2018. It wasn't done in that year so it's unfair to judge it that way. It was written and produced in 1966 originally, a time when women were still trying to find a foothold in making their own way, in making names for themselves. Yes, unfortunately, there are some stereotypes seen but that was, again, due to the times and mindsets of those in charge at CBS. Roddenberry wanted to give women their due, and that's obvious in his casting a woman as second-in-command, something plainly seen in the original pilot "The Cage". Majel Barrett was that officer...but CBS nixed the idea, saying that "no one will accept a woman in charge". No matter how Roddenberry fought for it, they turned him down and asked for a different pilot. So he gave them "Where No Man Has Gone Before", which got Star Trek on the air. Roddenberry had to choose his battles, and along the way during the three year run that they had, he was able to sneak in women's lib, political messages, toleration for people different from you, and minor cursing, which was absolutely unheard of in those days. Honestly, the only word I remember was "hell", and it was extremely appropriate for the episode. "The City on the Edge of Forever". Kirk had just allowed the woman he loved to die to preserve the timeline (they had accidentally gone into the past)...if Edith had lived, Starfleet would not have existed the way that it currently did and everything would change. They couldn't risk it. After suffering this, Kirk had every right to say to the crew, "Let's get the hell out of here". Roddenberry was fined for it but to him it was worth it. Some other notes: visible navels weren't acceptable to CBS standards, which is why costumes were strategically designed. Only in the third year could navels be seen bc finally viewers and censors didn't flip by seeing a belly button. The mini skirts were loved by the actresses. I read Nichelle Nichols comment in an article that the ladies found them liberating bc for so long they'd been forced to cover their legs, pretending that they didn't have a femininity. And just for the record, the women in "Mudd's Women" were NOT prostitutes. They were women looking for husbands...under false pretenses, yes, by using the Venus drug, but the main character, Eve, knew this was wrong and fought against it. Mudd was a con man, plain and simple, and was looking to make a buck. These women, in their natural state, were rather homely and had had no luck in finding men who wanted them, so they fell for Mudd's ploy. The point is, it was pointed out as being wrong and the wrong was righted, AND the women still found love and their "happily ever after"...if the men didn't want to back out bc of the false pretenses. Personally, I felt that the episode was a kind of setup for another show to spring from Star Trek but it never came to fruition. Yes, the "weak" and "helpless" women in the crew (Janice Rand needing Spock's help with the amorous crewman) were a bit annoying and still are today (bc really, what military person is going to be unable to defend themselves) but again, I remember when these stories were written and the backwards mindsets existing at the time. But that's what Roddenberry was all about: changing people's mindsets and getting them to think about things differently. He simply could only tackle one thing at a time...and I feel that he did a very good job. Do I let my kids watch this? Absolutely. Do they learn moral lessons? Absolutely. Would I recommend this to others and their kids? Absolutely. It's the yardstick by which I judge other shows: if there's awesome special effects but no good story, I won't continue watching a particular movie or TV show. To me, special effects are icing on the cake but should not detract from the story, the essence of the show. If the writing is lousy, the acting not great, or the direction junk but the effects are fabulous, big deal. The whole thing is junk in my opinion. Shows should focus on getting their point across and not worry about how much money they can blow in a laser gun blast 'cause it's cool. Bottom line: great for families and conversation starters, and learning lessons.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
1 person found this helpful.
age 16+

Honest review from the biggest Trekkie: Bad lessons about women for modern kids

This isn't an easy review to write. I am a long time trekkie - since the age of five - and the original is my greatest love. But this show just isn't for modern kids. Star Trek may have been progressive for the 60's but it wreaks of Mad Men era politics today. Nearly every single episode has a slight against women who come in four flavors: damsels, secretaries, vamps, and traitors. Main characters say things like "women are biologically more prone to fear" (Wolf in the Fold) and "female service members always leave to start a family" (Who Mourns for Adonais). One episode features a female crew member falling in love with a bad guy, being abused by him, and betraying the crew for him (Space Seed). Another features a female robot described as a "geisha" who kisses men on command (What are Little Girls Made Of). Most of the outfits women wear are scant to nonexistent. At one point one of the more prominent women on the main cast (the captain's secretary) asks the captain why he never looks at her legs (Miri). One professional woman is actually sexually harassed by the entirety of the male cast (Is There in Truth No Beauty). One of the first episodes features three prostitutes who use a drug to make themselved prettier and marry lonely miners under false pretenses (Mudd's Women). And on, and on, and on. It really is a nightmare at times. And it's a shame because much of the messaging on war and conflict at as relevant today as 50 years ago. The action is always exciting. The chemistry between the three leads is legendary. It is the only sci-fi franchise that is optimistic about the future. But, gosh darn it, it comes at such a cost. While TNG has it's faults it is a better show from an egalitarian standpoint. Start your kids on that one.

This title has:

Too much sex
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (12):
Kids say (29):

Forty years after it's premiere, this series still succeeds in syndication because its messages about racism, sexism, politics, and respecting differences really are timeless, even if the special effects aren't. (Though the early episodes are being remastered and enhanced with more up-to-date effects and imagery). In their 80 episodes, the Star Trek: The Original Series crew encountered deadly diseases, alien races, time warps, beautiful women in skin-tight outfits, and furry creatures called Tribbles. Kirk was put on trial for crimes against humanity, split into two alter-egos (good and evil), and cloned into an android. But at the core of the show is the idea that humans are complex creatures, and dilemmas often have no right or wrong answer.

TV Details

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