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Old September 5 2009, 12:57 AM   #1
DevilEyes
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Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

I recently read an article - written a few years ago - which really bashed Trek's treatment of romantic/sexual relationships and basically said that none of the Trek shows ever managed to portray believable and interesting relationships, that their treatment of sex and romance is immature, and that most of the romantic pairings were mismatched or had no chemistry. (I think it said something like "When was the last time you could say a Trek couple lighted up the screen with their chemistry?") I remember that I agreed with some points in the article and disagreed with others and thought that it did point out some problems but it exaggerated it all.

What do you think? Was Trek ever good in portraying romance and/or sex? Did it have too much, or too little of it? What do you think gave been the examples of good, compelling and interesting portrayals of romance in Trek shows or movies, and what, OTOH, you really could have done without? What has been lacking? Which couples were really interesting and great to watch, which were mismatched and unbelievable, and which were just dull? Do you think that perhaps some of the 'pairings' (whether slash or hetero) that never actually became couples except in fanfics had more sexual chemistry than those that did?

For starters, I will say that I always despised the expendable love interest of the week routine that ruled in TOS, and occasionally persisted in the later series. Even though some of the storylines and episodes were great, on the whole it was boring because you always knew how it would end, that the love interest of the week would have to be gotten rid of and never be mentioned again. But I also thought that TNG came off a bit childish with playing up the eternal sexual tension between its regulars but never letting them get together (not before the finale or the movies, anyway). Both these things are the consequence of the unwritten rule that heroes can't settle down, or the inability of shows to handle the idea of the main characters having lasting relationships (by lasting I mean: longer than one episode). Which is a bit silly, really - it would be stupid to have everyone on the ship involved with each other, but it's equally unrealistic to make everyone single. DS9 did better by breaking those rules and letting the regulars actually have steady relationships, even which each other, (though we could discuss the merits of each specific pairing). I can't speak for Voyager, since I'm watching season 3 (but don't worry - I've already been spoiled, before I even started watching, on who gets together with whom, and who does not...) and I haven't watched ENT except for the pilot, so I can't comment on it either.

Two other things: I also think that Trek should have had a few homosexual relationships, but dealt with in a mature way, not as a silly Mirror Universe titillation.

And, I love the fact that Trek likes to feature unexpected pairings and interspecies relationships, and hybrid children - even if it doesn't make sense scientifically - since it is really a metaphor for interracial/crosscultural relationships, overcoming differences etc.

What I don't like, is the habit of introducing the pairings that are not just unusual, but very mismatched - due to one person being much more attractive than the other... and surprise, surprise, it's always the woman who is the more attractive (basically, just a variant of the "Ugly Got A Hot Wife" stereotype). It started with Rom and Leeta, but at least those two were of the similar intellectual level and interests. But the most jarring example is Neelix and Kes. Now, don't misunderstand, I'm not saying that it's all about physical attractiveness... it is also a matter of personality, charm, etc. We have to at least understand that those people see in each other, or in this case, what Kes sees in Neelix... and I am really not getting that from the show.
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Old September 5 2009, 01:27 AM   #2
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

The good: Riker and Troi
The bad: Scotty and Uhura
The boring: Odo and Kira
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Old September 5 2009, 01:38 AM   #3
SFRabid
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

The only relationship worth remembering for me is Worf/Dax. That is not much for 28 seasons of Trek.
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Old September 5 2009, 01:45 AM   #4
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

Worf/Dax, and to a lesser extent, Paris/Torres were two of the better-handled romances.
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Old September 5 2009, 02:42 AM   #5
PSGarak
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

I liked what developed between Sisko and Kassidy Yates. I felt that as relationships went in Trek, it was not only believable, but mature and enjoyable to watch.

I didn't like any of the relationships on TNG. They were either dreadfully boring or just plain weird. No chemistry, ever.

I hated Miles O'Brien's relationship with Keiko. She was whiny, rude and constantly disrespectful. Before somebody jumps me about saying "a woman should respect her man", that is not what I mean by that at all. I mean that in a good marriage, there is mutual respect. Keiko talked to Miles as though he were a five year old, and for a reason I can't fathom, he just took it. She knew she was marrying a Starfleet engineer when she got into that relationship. Harping and nagging on him about her career needs not getting met was just stupid, considering she made that decision.

I hated the Worf Jadzia pairing. No chemistry at all. Then again, I don't like Worf, so I don't think any pairing for him would've worked for me.

I wish they had let Andrew Robinson have his way about portraying Garak as bisexual. The friendship chemistry he had with Bashir was more interesting than any romantic pairing on that show. I wouldn't have even cared if Bashir didn't feel the same way because he was straight. Just allowing that issue to be aired would've been nice. Most portrayals of bisexuals I've seen in tv and film are either horribly campy and over the top, like the MU characters, or make them come across as manipulative psychopaths like in Basic Instinct. As someone who is bisexual and has known it pretty much all of my life, I find such characterizations insulting. I think Robinson would've handled it in a mature, interesting way, and I would've loved to see it.

EDIT: I think the reason I find the characterizations insulting is because so often film and tv writers use bisexuality as shorthand for "perverted" or "twisted", much like some authors will turn a character into a rapist for no other reason than to show that character is evil. It's lazy, and it's unnecessary. There are other ways to establish that without maligning an entire sexual orientation.
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Old September 5 2009, 03:09 AM   #6
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

DevilEyes wrote: View Post

Two other things: I also think that Trek should have had a few homosexual relationships, but dealt with in a mature way, not as a silly Mirror Universe titillation.

And, I love the fact that Trek likes to feature unexpected pairings and interspecies relationships, and hybrid children - even if it doesn't make sense scientifically - since it is really a metaphor for interracial/crosscultural relationships, overcoming differences etc.
Devileyes is right.

Gays, when depicted at all, are present in the story because they are to be 'the gay charactor.'

Advertising prior to the episode Rejoined leaned heavy on the 'gay kiss' between Terry Farrell and a guess star Susanna Thompson. TNG episode Outcast was to be the much anticipated gay story fans had asked for, it wasn't.

Jadzia Dax would have been the perfect long term gay charactor. She was more open than most of the people on the various series. The slow to build romance she had with Worf could of been written as same-sex. If Tasha Yar had lived, she'd of been one possible choice. Or a brand new charactor could of been created, but not a 'gay' charactor.


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Old September 5 2009, 03:10 AM   #7
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

I was one of those who didn't see any sparks between Riker/Troi. Kind of bland. I thought Worf/Troi had a lot more verve. Worf/Dax didn't work for me, maybe because Dax is no fun.
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Old September 5 2009, 05:32 AM   #8
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

Riker/Troi was the best,
O'Brien/Keiko was most realistic portrayal,
Worf/Troi was the least believable.
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Old September 5 2009, 05:53 AM   #9
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

Xelo wrote: View Post
Riker/Troi was the best,
O'Brien/Keiko was most realistic portrayal,
Worf/Troi was the least believable.
Agreed.

On a related note- regular butt-bumping without the slipery stuff is conducive to health problems, so buy the good stuff.
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Old September 5 2009, 10:55 AM   #10
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

Romance isn't really Star Trek's strong suit, but there have been a few I liked. I thought Worf/Troi was great, much more interesting than Riker/Troi and I liked Paris/Torres a lot as well. Although I guess it comes under the "girl of the week" category, I'd like to put in a good word for the relationship between Picard and Lt. Cmdr Daren in TNG 'Lessons'. Patrick Stewart's acting really sold me on that one.
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Old September 5 2009, 12:04 PM   #11
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

Beyond Antares wrote: View Post
I was one of those who didn't see any sparks between Riker/Troi. Kind of bland.
I agree. Zero chemistry! Trek writers really sucked at writing romance, with the exception of Paris / Torres.

Data / Tasha - my favorite ship ever! Nuff said!

Worf / Dax were kinda okay, but they never made me care much about what happens to them. I personally couldn't care less if they had babies, or ended up divorced.

Kira / Odo I never liked. It was too weird for my taste.

Kes / Neelix - OMG, that had to be one of the worst TV romances ever. He was old, ugly and annoying, she was young, pretty and intelligent. Who the hell came up with that pairing? FAIL!

Chakotay / Seven - that wasn't even a romance, that was, like, "lets give Chakotay some booty, since we robbed him of character development."

Trip / T'Pol - had huge potential for a kick ass Romeo/Juliet story. Ton of buildup that eventually went nowhere. A perfect example of "don't write romance if you don't know how." Pitty, I like Manny Coto in general, but with this, he really failed. Epically.

Spock / Uhura [ST XI] - I like this romance quite a bit, I must say. Bob and Alex really took me by surprise with this one. That scene where Spock calls her Nyota in front of Kirk was one of my favorite moments in the movie. I just hope they don't screw it up in future films.
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Old September 5 2009, 01:33 PM   #12
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

Mach5 wrote: View Post
Kes / Neelix - OMG, that had to be one of the worst TV romances ever. He was old, ugly and annoying, she was young, pretty and intelligent. Who the hell came up with that pairing? FAIL!
I have to agree, but more because they just didn't seem to truly have anything in common. I think theirs was the least believable pairing of the lot and the fact it eventually fizzled out came as no surprise to me. Kes had more chemistry with the Doctor than with Neelix, IMO...

Personally, I thought the Worf and Troi pairing was the best, but it came to an end when Worf was assigned to DS9, IMO. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if they kept them together during the movies--it might have been Worf and Troi getting married in Nemesis perhaps...

For me, the most boring was Picard and Crusher. It started off fine--even cute once or twice--but they dragged that out so ridiculously long and then dropped it altogether once the TV series ended (fortunately, the post-Nemesis novels picked it back up and didn't waste any time moving them logically forward)...
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Old September 5 2009, 02:48 PM   #13
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

The good: Kirk/Edith, Data/Tasha, Riker/Troi, O'Brien/Keiko
The bad: Scotty/Uhura, Odo/Kira
The boring: Spock/Uhura
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Old September 5 2009, 03:12 PM   #14
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

I LOVED Picard & Nella Daren. The only problem i had with it was when they decided it would be best for her to transfer. I really would have liked to see how they handled it.
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Old September 5 2009, 05:24 PM   #15
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Re: Trek romances - the good, the bad, and the boring?

I think the relationship of the O'Briens was the most realistic portrayal. Sure, they had their problems, and it looked like their marriage was headed for a breakup in the middle of DS9, but they stuck with it and worked it out.

I also liked the Kira/Bareil relationship and the Sisko/Yates relationship. Watching both relationships together, we get a good portrayal of how couples can handle interfaith relationships (whether they practice different religions, or the same religion differently). Kira was more orthodox than Bareil, which caused some disagreement early on in their relationship, but they stayed together because they were in love. The Sisko/Yates dynamic was even more interesting because Kassidy didn't seem to have any religious beliefs and showed discomfort at Ben's embrace of his faith. She came around and became supportive, even to the point of at least publicly pretending to practice some of the stuff. (I don't necessarily think a non-believing spouse should feel obligated to act as if s/he believes, but it's a realistic portrayal, since it happens fairly frequently.)

I wasn't into the Kira/Odo relationship at all. I thought it was beautiful when it was Odo's unrequited love for Kira, but I couldn't buy her interest in him. She was uninterested for the whole show, and then suddenly, a hologram convinces her to change her mind. I just didn't find it believable. (Plus, it's really out of character for her to have forgiven him for breaking his promise not to link with the leader of the Founders during the Dominion occupation of DS9.)

I didn't see any chemistry between Riker/Troi, and the less said about Chakotay/Seven, the better.

One pairing that I wish the writers had done more with was Seven and the EMH. They were both at similar levels of emotional development, and they seemed to have a lot in common. They cared for one another, and I think they would have been really good for each other.
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