I like Bry's question.
"IS 7 THE TRUE SOURCE OF VOYAGER'S SUCCESS?"
For me Seven really ruined the series. The character concept was interesting, but too much emphasis was placed on her, at the expense of the other characters (save Janeway and the Doctor, but they became more sidekicks to Seven).
As a gay man, Seven as sex appeal was never going to work for me, but I can appreciate an attractive woman. Jeri Ryan is good-looking, with a very curvy figure, but when you have someone like that parade around in catsuits it kinda cheapens the character and continues stereotypes of "sexy sci-fi chick".
Trek should have done something a little better, rather than just giving into fanwank
The Halloween Parade in NY East Village is full of gay men that dressed up as Seven during the years that Voyager was in production. Many gay men appreciate the appeal of diva-esque sex appeal and the camp of the sexy sci-fi babe, if they didn't we wouldn't have "Ru Paul's Drag Race" or men in drag calling themselves "Heada Lettuce" or "Aqua Netta".
Seems like Seven didn't cheapen anything for them but rather made them feel empowered.
Wasn't it Gene Roddenberry's idea to have green naked women as sex slaves?A virus that causes everyone to get naked? An entire planet where nearly any sexual act is legal? Anybody remember the citizens of "Angel One". Kirk's implying in "Gamesters...." how sex can overcome slavery? How even within the series, that Troi's leotard was called inappropriate attire for the bridge? I don't see how Seven's catsuit cheapened things but rather just continued the idea that sexuality was always a big part of Trek's universe as established by the shows creator.
We just fooled ourselves in to believing Trek is more high brow than it really is. Trek may have a message but it's still entertainment, first and foremost.
If the rest of the audience gave a damn about the rest of the cast, the ratings wouldn't have fallen during s1-3 to require bringing her on in the first place. Honestly, I've never seen fans say; " I tuned in every week for Tuvok....or Paris.....or Chakotay." If they did, he show wouldn't have needed the soft reboot it got.