Why should people watch Star Trek?

There’s a lot of stuff to watch out there.

And when I state a “lot”, I mean a LOT. If you look at the Entertainment section that is in your typical Target or Wal-Mart, there are tens of thousands of hours of content at your disposal. Heck, even the $5 DVD bin contains a year’s worth of entertainment (some good, some bad).

Beyond even that, look at Netflix. Look at YouTube. There are millions of hours of television and film at your disposal, and much of it is available for free online. With all this stuff… you’re never at a loss for something watch. And the Industrial Entertainment complex keeps making MORE, every day.

So, with all this, this feast of riches… why watch Star Trek?

It’s a serious question. Why would anyone watch Star Trek, when they can watch shows like Breaking Bad, or catch up on the films of Kubrick or Hitchcock, or binge-watch Orange is the New Black? I ask because you need to keep the abundance of choice in mind, and because new people are born every minute of the day… Why would anyone go back and watch Star Trek?

Let’s restate the question – what would someone who has never seen Trek before watch it? What would they get out of it? Why should they watch it?

It’s an important question, because Star Trek is an entertainment franchise, and most franchises fade from our culture over time. A movie series like James Bond, going on for more than 50 years, is the exception rather than the rule. Some of the most successful TV and movie series ever are barely noted by people today. Man from UNCLE was the hottest show on TV for a year… now, it’s the answer to a trivia question. Movie series like Tarzan, Blondie and Ma and Pa Kettle were incredibly successful decades ago – and today they are forgotten , with many of the films not even available on DVD.

Star Trek is not a moribund property like the above examples (BTW, I’m a big UNCLE fan and hated using it as an example, but the truth hurts), but it could easily become one – even with all the pop culture impact it has had. The key is new viewers… keeping the series in the eye of the public.

I ask because I love Trek, but even as a fan I have to clearly acknowledge the series is at an impasse. The latest film left a bad taste in the mouth of many moviegoers, and where the series goes next is critical to whether it continues to live or is regarded as “old news.” And I ask because I’m not getting any younger – none of us are. And I want Trek to last.

Correct that – I want Trek to have an IMPACT. A positive one.

Which brings me back to my main question… If we want someone, a Star Trek “virgin” to watch the show or movies… how do we convince them? What is our argument?

Which is a harder question to answer that you might think.

Star Trek is Legion – it contains multitudes. What Trek are you talking about watching, for one thing? The original series, next gen, the movies, the other series that came after and during the movies? Is it Star Trek the morality play, Star Trek the action series, Star Trek the humanist pulpit, or Star Trek the escapist comedy? Trek is all that, and more. Which Trek to start with?

But there is one thing I keep going back to, the one common aspect of the best of Star Trek – a key point that was missing from lots of Trek, including the last film. Something that reason enough for anyone to watch Trek.


Star Trek started out as a crazy premise that we will not kill ourselves, that we will stretch our race beyond the furthest star… too seek out new lives, and new civilizations… It was in the mission statement at the beginning of EVERY EPISODE. That we could and will better ourselves, and take the risks that space travel entailed.

THAT is the answer, and that is why someone should watch Star Trek – because at its heart, Trek had an optimistic message of hope and a positive statement that we could do this.

We could do this together.

I write this on a very dark news day, a day that is ironically in the same week that is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. In recent days, I see that hope has dimmed in the opinions of many people. And that is why we need to regain the can-do optimism of that space program, when we strove to do more that accept things as impossible to change.

And that is why people need to watch Star Trek.

Just, not the latest movie.

Joseph Dickerson is a user experience professional and UX Lead for Microsoft based out of Atlanta, GA. He has implemented processes in user testing, design and ethnographic research and provided design and consulting services for many different projects and organizations.

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