I’ve been less than impressed with The Orville since its premiere as it, at least to me and anyone with eyes, ears, and any sense, seemed to be little more than a well-intentioned Star Trek clone content with being… merely okay. Yes, I’ll admit that I was even turned off on the show by hateful and stupid Star Trek fans clamoring that it was going to be better than Star Trek: Discovery because that’s how you love something nowadays… you hate everything it might become.
But, you know… this last episode, “About a Girl” was actually good. Surprisingly, it was very good. Mixing humor, ethical quandaries, and culture clashes, this could be the most Trek episode that The Orville has pulled off short of just being Seth McFarland’s Star Trek fan series.
In “About a Girl,” a female baby is born to Bortas and his mate, the complication being that Moclans are a single-gendered species and being born a female is like being born with a cleft pallet and it is seen as something to surgically correct after birth. The human members of the Orville crew, of course, see this as highly unethical and manage to get Bortas aboard to their way of thinking, but Klyden, Bortas’ mate and other father to the baby, wants to give his baby a sex change and, so, in typical Star Trek fashion, a trial is held on an alien world.
You’ve got to hand it to The Orville, it is developing a heart and some head. Certainly, Seth McFarland is no stranger to courting controversy, but with this episode, The Orville handles the subject in a deft way, presenting both sides as being right and wrong. You could see the idea of giving a baby a sex change as an inhumane act, but on the other hand, you kind of understand the Moclan arguments that it’s hypocritical to argue choice on one hand, and circumcision with the other.
Both the most serious of the three Orville adventures and the most humorous, in “About a Girl,” the one-liners and comedy work faster and better than they have in the past and even the few dick jokes that are whipped out pass by organically without much pause. I found this to be a rather compelling hour of television, taking on a touchy subject with maturity (and a little immaturity), and leading the audience to think and debate.
I hesitate to say I’m completely on board with this show yet, but if I see another episode of two of this caliber, I would be well on my way. This show has a lot going for it and now, it seems to be ready to live up to that promise.