Preparing For A Strange New World: The Grounding Presence Of 'Star Trek'

Mar 27, 2018

Frustratingly, I’ve not yet watched "Star Trek: Discovery," because to do so, unlike with the older series, I'd have to shell out $6 a month to CBS.

But I've seen all the other "Star Trek" shows and most of the movies, beginning about a decade ago, in the formative years of elementary school.

At first, I had no interest in seeing a show about space from the 1960s -- probably because at the time, I was only interested in horses and anything animated. 

My parents graciously allowed me to swap the 45 minutes of family bonding around a "Star Trek" episode for extra "computer time," which, as most small children know, is a very precious commodity. But it only took me a week or two to sacrifice that for the original series.

We eventually finished it at the excruciating pace of one episode a night. 

“One more, please!” my brother and I would plead as we were ushered off to bed. Only on the sweet breath of air that was the weekend would our request be granted. 

But we got older, and times changed. The activity that brought my family together split in two.

We had just started the fourth series, "Deep Space Nine," when it happened. It became my mother’s show, the one we would watch only with her. 

My father took "Voyager," the next one we would all have watched together.

Each episode was no longer so magical. Maybe that was as much about growing up as it was about the rift between my parents.

Yet I still cherished the stories, the familiarity of these characters -- who, above all odds, continued to rise above a variety of science fiction foes. 

I recently re-watched some of the old shows. The storylines I'd mostly forgotten captivated me once again.

This time, though, I noticed what's been a defining factor of the "Star Trek" franchise since its beginning, when Nichelle Nichols, a black woman, had a lead role for one the first times in American television. I appreciated this show that comforted me as a child even more when I realized its role in pushing for equality.

I don't know when I'll manage to watch the new series. Maybe when I go to college, if I can stomach the price tag. It seems a fitting way to mark the occasion.

In any case, I have every intention of watching some of the older series while I’m there. I know I’ll get homesick sometimes, but I also know I can’t always go home when that happens. "Star Trek" is the perfect middle ground, a reminder of who I am and where I come from.

Yet it also reminds me that the future is upon me, and I will succeed in my mission to explore this strange new world.

Alana Sacks is a junior at Amherst Regional High School.