In some ways, I am extremely sophisticated. For example, I never drink wine straight from the bottle. I always pour it into a plastic cup first.
But in other ways, my cultural understanding has been neglected. If you ask Mr. R what ways those might be, I guarantee you the first thing he’d say would be: Star Trek.
Mr. R grew up with Star Trek: The Original Series (which we shall now call TOS). I didn’t watch the show until I was older, and even then it was The Next Generation (which we shall call TNG). We each think our version is better.
This has been a point of contention in our relationship—a minor point, but a persistent one—ever since we were dating and we watched “The Trouble with Tribbles” together and I kept asking why the Klingons just looked like regular guys with smooth foreheads.
Recently, for the sake of peace in the house as well as for improved cultural understanding, I agreed to re-watch TOS episodes with Mr. R. I admit, in the past I didn’t watch them in the proper spirit. I watched them reluctantly, only to earn Good Spouse Points that could be spent on, say, Jelly Bellys. I was too put off by the minidresses and giant hairdos to become immersed in the stories.
But as I’ve become more sophisticated (wine in a cup!) I have also realized that I wouldn’t expect a 40-year-old novel to read like one published this month. So why should I expect a 40-year-old TV show to appeal in the same way as a new one?
So I decided to let go of that particular expectation, though I held onto another: that I would be told a good story. If the story is good—that is, if the stakes are high and the plot is compelling and the characters seem real—then the outdated trappings won’t matter so much. If the story’s no good, those trappings will be unbearable.
Mr. R picked episodes that he thought had a fair chance of convincing me with their stories. The first one we watched was “Space Seed.” Khan—as in “Wrath of”—makes his first appearance in this episode. There is also a female character that Mr. R confidently informed me I would hate. The ship’s historian, she immediately developed Hot Pants for Khan. She even mutinies (let’s call it like it is) to help Khan take over the Enterprise.
I did hate her for that. But guess what? Khan doesn’t respect her either. At that point in the episode, she’s just a pawn to him. Only after she defeats a few of Khan’s cronies, then helps the Enterprise crew regain control of the ship, does Khan truly seem impressed with her. He even calls her a “superior female.” (I know. There’s no higher praise.)
There’s a pretty good message within this episode. As a Starfleet officer, the historian’s highest duty should be to her job, her ship, her crew. When she gets her head on straight and does what she thinks is right—which is protecting the crew—that’s when she convinces Khan of her worth. Minidresses and giant hairdos aside, that’s an idea I can get on board with: ladies, be true to yourselves, and respect will follow.
Since then, Mr. R and I have watched six other episodes. They haven’t all been works of genius, but I can honestly say that the reasons I like or dislike them don’t have anything to do with their look. Either the story works for me, or it doesn’t. I’m trying my best to give them a fair shake—and if that means Mr. R gives me Good Spouse Points and brings home a bag of Jelly Bellys, well, that’s just a bonus.
How about you all? Ever been put off by a book’s cover or a show’s minidresses? Did the stories convince you in the end, or is there something you can’t overlook?
 Seriously. That’s what he would say.
 Though only I am correct.
 Dear Star Trek: has the difference in Klingon appearance over time ever been explained? Beyond Worf saying “we don’t talk about it” during one DS9 episode? Because I think it could be a really interesting story.
 By which I mean that it is awesome.