Fifty-one years after the original show's debut, the new CBS series Star Trek: Discovery promises to inspire a new generation with a more colorful galaxy. Discovery follows in the groundbreaking footsteps of the Star Trek original series, which featured a Japanese officer, a black female officer, and a Russian navigator. The new Star Trek will see the television series' first black female lead, its first Asian captain, and the first-ever Star Trek character to be conceived of and announced as gay (played by Sonequa Martin-Green, Michelle Yeoh, and Anthony Rapp, respectively).
When the original Star Trek debuted in 1966 at the height of the civil rights movement, creator Gene Roddenberry's vision was clear: The future was better, brighter, and free of some of the entrenched intolerances and prejudices of his viewers' present day. Half a century later, Discovery is preserving that revolutionary spirit: During casting, initial showrunner Bryan Fuller consulted with astronaut Mae Jemison—the first African-American woman to travel in space—who has cited Nichelle Nichols' Lieutenant Uhura as her inspiration to join NASA. In 2017, as popular shows like Black Mirror and The Leftovers are offering dim visions of oppressed future societies, Discovery is poised to present a more optimistic vision by, once more, boldly going where no one has gone before.
A version of this story originally appeared in the August/September 2017 issue of Pacific Standard.