Seth McFarlane’s Science Fiction Show Criticized for its Content
The new Fox television science fiction show The Orville is drawing criticism from conservative groups who claim the show is being used to attack religion. The show’s creator and leading star, Seth McFarlane, is no stranger to controversy. His widely popular animated shows have routinely pushed the envelope on cultural issues.
The show is about a spaceship and its crew exploring the galaxy in the future. The most recent episode “If The Stars Should Appear” has the crew investigate a gigantic ship that is ruled under a “dictatorial theocracy.” The inhabitants are so dogged about their faith that they are willing to plunge the ship into a sun rather than question their religious beliefs. One of the main characters mocks the society: “the common impulse of biological life forms to attribute the origin of the universe to an omnipotent being is most curious.” The show has previously caused ire over an episode that involved a sex change of a newborn infant.
The issue could have started with the influences of the show. The Orville is heavily influenced by the original Star Trek show. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, was an outspoken atheist who stated: “For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain.” Star Trek, which took place in the 23rd century, where religion has disappeared due to the dominance of science and rationality.
Seth Mcfarlane has listed the show as one his favorites growing up and of The Orville said “in some ways, this is the show that I came to Hollywood to do.”
McFarlane has been quite outspoken about his atheist beliefs. He drew comparisons to the Civil Rights Movement, requiring people to rise up as a counter voice to those promoting religion.
Whether this is more of a loving homage to the Star Trek world or an expression of McFarlane’s personal philosophy is unclear. It probably lays somewhere in the middle.