When a franchise has been around as long as Star Trek, it’s bound to have had its fair share of touchy subjects. That being said, Star Trek is in a category of its own. Gene Roddenberry pictured a multi-cultural (and multi-planetary) utopia where everyone got along, regardless of gender, race, creed, or antennae.
However, the viewers at home have demonstrated many times over the years that they may not be ready for Roddenberry’s version of paradise. The offices of Paramount have more than once been flooded with hate mail. Even internally, there have been several episodes from latter-day Trek that broke with Roddenberry’s view of an ‘ideal’ future, depicting some of the most important societal conflicts of the 20th and 21st century -under tons of latex no less- and causing much consternation amongst the very people entrusted with carrying the franchise forward.
Some are beyond important, some we would like to forget, but here are ten of the most groundbreaking and controversial episodes of Star Trek:
10. Star Trek, “Plato’s Stepchildren” – First Interracial Kiss
First, a caveat: this was not actually the first interracial kiss on television. That belongs to so many other shows it’s hard to keep track. If you want to get technical, it was the first kiss between an African-American and a Caucasian on a dramatic television series. But that doesn’t mean it was any left controversial.
It’s no secret that the 1960s weren’t exactly a peach when it came to Civil Rights. For a little perspective on the culture at the time, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner came out less than a year before this episode aired, and that was controversial for demonstrating Sidney Poitier was husband material. Of course there are caveats, like the fact that Kirk and Uhura are under some sort of mind control, but that is sort of beside the point.
In fact, the network didn’t even want the kiss to happen, so they had the crew film alternate takes. But in Nichelle Nichols memoirs, she revealed that Shatner and her botched every take of the alternate scene so that the network had to go with the kiss.
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