How The Most Controversial Scene In Lower Decks Fits Into The World Of Star Trek

It's not always easy to balance the kind of raunchy humor beloved by adult animation fans with the world of "Star Trek," but showrunner Mike McMahan and the rest of the "Star Trek: Lower Decks" gang sure give it their best shot. One sequence was a little too much for some hardcore Trekkies — er, Trekkers — and it involved a whole lot of sex. In the season 2 episode "I, Excretus," Ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome) walks in on an orgy involving most of the crew of the Cerritos. The whole event was a hologram, but it really upset whole swathes of the fandom. 

Wait a second... "Star Trek" is one of the horniest franchises in existence. Sure, most of its salacious scenes happen just off-screen, but embracing sex and sexuality has been a part of the "Star Trek" ethos going all the way back to Kirk (William Shatner) boning his first alien. Sex and sex jokes are a "Trek" tradition, and it's buck wild that a contingent of fans got so upset about some cartoon characters getting buck naked. 

A storied history of Star Trek sexy-times

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, McMahan explained the reasoning behind the scene, which had its roots in "Star Trek" silliness because Mariner was trying to achieve high test scores to impress Starfleet: 

"That one orgy scene in the show had to drive Mariner out of the room with shock because that was part of the plot, you know? I remember, for better or for worse, we got the animation of that scene in, and I was like, I don't think it's raunchy enough because I don't believe that Mariner — a character who's seen a lot of stuff — would get driven out of the room by that."

In the end, he asked the animators to up the nudity, and put Boimler "spread-eagle" on the counter, which he concedes might have been too much. Honestly, I gasped when that reveal happened and then proceeded to laugh like a Ferengi who just won at dabo. Sure, it's raunchy, but it's really funny, and it's not like "Star Trek" hasn't had its fair share of giggle-worthy groin-grinding. 

Silly sexy Star Trek

McMahan pointed out that for some reason, horny humor was the one thing that people seemed to feel was wrong tonally, even though "Star Trek" is ridiculously randy:

"It's funny, the sex stuff — even if we're being very careful about it — tends to ping people as not feeling like 'Star Trek,' which I find to be crazy, because everybody was f***ing on 'Star Trek.'"

He goes on to remind everyone that Data (Brent Spiner) was "fully functional" (and anatomically correct!) and that sexuality is just part of what makes "Star Trek," "Star Trek." There's a tendency for some fans to think of the earlier entries in the franchise, especially the original series, to be sterile and pure, but there have been sex scenes and jokes in every single "Star Trek" series except for "Star Trek: Prodigy," and that's only because it's for kids. 

While some fans complained that the scene was too close to other animated shows like "Rick and Morty," adult content and sexual humor can still be very much a part of the "Star Trek" universe. That critique of "Lower Decks" sometimes works elsewhere, but when it comes to this one-off, imaginary orgy? The "Lower Decks" crew are keeping the pervy part of the "Star Trek" universe alive.