Rebecca's Guide to Starting Star Trek
Holy Representation, Batman! You may have just heard that Star Trek Discovery is happening and it has a black woman as the lead, and Asian woman as the captain, and a confirmed interracial/interspecies gay couple, and you’re gunna watch!
Perhaps you want to start Star Trek now, but shit, there’s 13 movies, seven separate tv shows, all ranging somewhere between 3-7 seasons of 45 min episodes, plus there’s all those comics and novels.
First of all, if you don’t want to do anything other than Discovery, THAT IS 1701% OK. DO NOT LET GATE KEEPING BULLSHIT KEEP YOU FROM ENJOYING THINGS.
But if you do want to start, here’s my recommendations. Other people may have their opinions, but here’s mine.
Start with the movies, sorta. It’s much easier to get through all the movies than all the seasons. But, I say sorta, because don’t actually watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The first movie is just, well, it’s not great, and there isn’t enough plot to justify sitting through it. One day, for kicks and giggles, go back and watch, but for now, leave it alone.
What you’re gunna do is replace the first Star Trek movie with a few episodes of The Original Series (TOS).
You’re gunna do:
Space Speed (Season 1, ep 22)
City on the Edge of Forever (season 1, ep 28)
Amok Time (Season 2, ep 1)
Journey to Babel (Season 2, ep 10)
If you wanna toss one out to get to the movies faster, City on the Edge of Forever isn’t like, super plot important, but it’s generally considered one of the best episodes of all the series, and I think it’s really good for understanding characterization.
THEN START THE MOVIES
You’re gunna watch 2-6, and then I’d recommend pausing. You can just keep going, but I’m gunna suggest a few The Next Generation (TNG) episodes first before you move onto movies 7-10.
Q Who (Season 2, ep 16)
Best of Both Worlds part 1&2 (Season 3, ep 26, Season 4, ep 1)
Chain of Command part 1&2 (Season 6, ep 10-11)
The last one is similar to The City on The Edge of Forever. I think one more is best for understanding the characters moving forward, and this is a great ep for that, also it does my favorite Star Trek thing, which is discuss reverent political issues (use of torture in this case) while also getting you acquainted with the Cardassians, who will be around more in Deep Space Nine (DS9). But if you’re eager to get back to the movies, go ahead with the rest of the movies.
Movies 7-10 are all with the TNG cast, and then 11-13 are all the alternate Kelvin timeline (AOS).
Woo! At this point, you should feel much more aquatinted with this universe.
Now if you still want to watch more of the TV series, honestly, this may be controversial, but you can just watch whichever one strikes your fancy. The stories usually hold on their own, and one crew my be more interesting to you than another.
The Original Series and The Animated Series are the same crew, just one is animated.
From having watched the movies, you should have already met The Next Generation crew and should be able to tell if you want to see more of their adventures.
Deep Space Nine is not actually about a ship, but rather a base. This is the first time the captain was not a white man. Benjamin Cisco is played by Avery Brooks, a black man. Also, his first officer is a Bajoran (an alien) woman. This one also had the closest to the occasional LGBT+ rep with Jadzia Dax, an alien that is gender fluid and changes gender based on their host. It’s not perfect, but it’s at least not the regular cisgender heteronormative character we’re used to. Both Worf and O'Brein from TNG are in this series.
Voyager is about a ship that gets put 75 years away from Federation space and is about their adventures on their journey home. This features the first female captain, played by Kate Mulgrew from Orange is the New Black. It also has a Native American first officer, and a black Vulcan (not the first ever seen, but the first one as a main character), a half Klingon/human woman as the engineer, and later on in season 4, a former Borg assimilated woman. There’s even more than I’ve mentioned here actually, diversity wise. Other than Discovery, this is easily their most multicultural Bridge.
Enterprise is a prequel series that follows the crew of the Enterprise 100 years before Kirk took command. It’s, much less diverse to be honest. There’s a lot I like about it, and tbh I’m always a little Gay for T'Pol (Vulcan Sub-commander) but there’s a lot of white dudes, so if you’re looking for diversity, this…. may not be your jam.
Later, I’ll do a follow up post that has abridged recommendations for each series, because if I’m being totally honest, there’s really some episodes you can skip.
For now, this is my starting point for everyone.