As the long-time readers among you know, I am a huge trekkie and grew up with Star Trek – The Next Generation, a series that always put a smile on my face. Now, approximately 30 years later, the old familiar feeling of joy is back – every time I watch The Orville. For those of you who aren't as geeky as I am, The Orville is a series created by Seth MacFarlane who is a huge trekkie himself. Thus, The Orville is an homage to Star Trek, but with more realistic dialogue and its own very special kind of humour.
As always, we are a bit behind the schedule here in Germany, because the episodes are shown as synchronised versions on German television. So it was only a few weeks ago that I watched the second episode of season two, called "Primal Urges".
It's an episode which, among other things, discusses the topic of porn addiction. And since the plot is set in the 25th century, we are not talking about watching videos, but about living out erotic fantasies on a holodeck. Lieutenant Commander Bortus, the second officer aboard the USS Orville, and his mate Klyden are struggling with serious problems in their relationship, and Bortus finds mental escape in the fantasy world of the holodeck.
What I love about The Orville is that they often manage to combine serious topics and difficult ethical questions with humorous scenes, making both work side by side. Plus, while most of the time things turn out to be fine at the end, which I love, they don't always give simple answers to the problems described. And they don't mind going a bit further with what they show than Star Trek ever would.
So, the erotic holodeck-scenes in "Primal Urges" are quite graphic (at least for the average American taste, I suppose, and for a mainstream television series). And since most Moclans are male and live in male-male-relationships, all the scenes contain guys only. Plus, they include kink! MM kink! Which, as the more avid readers among you know, is exactly my cup of tea.
Now, the problem is, that kink often isn't depicted very positively on mainstream television. It's either shown as something dark and bad or it is ridiculed. A plot about porn addiction in a series that has become famous for its unique humour holds the risk of both. But, to my surprise and delight, I found that neither turned out to be true. Of course porn addiction is depicted as being destructive, and rightfully so. And of course, the erotic scenes can't be taken too seriously. But, as a kinky person, I didn't have the feeling that this special erotic preference is depicted as being dangerous, sick, not even more odd than other sexual variations.
The most BDSMy scene that is shown is a dungeon scenario, with Bortus as the prisoner and a holographic warden as his counterpart. Now, as you might know, I don't care all that much about non-consensual dark scenarios, but the way it is depicted I have to admit that I loved it. I am going to describe the scene for you (I've looked up the English original conversation):
The scene begins with Bortus entering the holodeck and starting the simulation. The room turns into a medivial prison cell (with torches and all that). There are shackles hanging from the walls, but Bortus doesn't make use of them, he just crouches down in front of the wall vis-à-vis the cell door. The door is unlocked from outside and a warden steps in, carrying a battle axe and a plate with food. Warden: "Your supper, prisoner." He throws the plate at Bortus' feet. Bortus looks up at him: "Please, Sir, may I have some water?" Warden: "Very well." He turns around, leaves and comes back with a wooden bucket filled with water. He takes some of it out with a scoop and holds the scoop close to Bortus. But when Bortus wants to take it, the warden suddenly pulls the scoop back, takes a mouthful of water himself and spits it at Bortus, laughing. Bortus: "I beg you to release me from this dungeon. I have done nothing wrong." Warden: "What is your name, prisoner?" Bortus: "Cheston, my name is Cheston." Warden: "How badly do you want to get out of this prison, Cheston?" Bortus: "Very badly. I am to be executed in the morning." Warden: "Perhaps we can make an arrangement." He starts taking off his suit of armour. But Bortus objects: "No, I can not. I am a virgin in that way." The warden starts turning around angrily: "Then you shall die in the morning, Cheston!" He starts to leave. Quickly Bortus stands up and cries out: "Wait!" The warden turns around again. Bortus: "If there is no other way, then I suppose I must do what you ask of me." He takes a step forward closer to the warden and adds: "And more." The warden puts down the bucket, takes off a belt of his armour and walks towards Bortus. Here the scenes ends and the rest is left to our imagination.
Is this scene and the dialogue clichéd? Oh yes, definitely! In my opinion it's a hilarious parody and can't be taken all too seriously. However, to me it seems like a parody not from someone who looks at kink from the outside. To me it feels like an homage created by someone who understands and appreciates the power dynamic many kinksters seek. And even though it can't be taken too seriously, I have to admit that I find the scene quite erotic in its own way. I also love the wording and intonation. I might be wrong, but isn't the language a bit like what some kinksters might use for traditional upper class school or historical scenarios?
What impressed me the most, though, is how well the topic of consensual non-consent is covered here, in a way that makes the scene attractive even for me. First of all, how more topping from the bottom can one have? It is Bortus' holodeck program we watch, and the warden is just a holodeck figure, doing what Bortus has programmed him to do. Secondly, it is Bortus who in a way initiates the whole scene by asking to be released and by finally agreeing to give the warden his reward for helping him. The greatest part of the dialogue, though, is the very end in my opinion. When Bortus not only agrees to do what the warden wants him to, but on his own initiative adds that he must do even more.
So, my conclusion: My currently most loved TV series showed an episode which contained kink. And instead of spoiling it, they managed to depict kink in a funny way and even push some of my buttons as a kinkster. Sometimes watching television can make for a wonderful close of the day!