What to make of Discovery’s TV-MA rating


Star Trek Discovery’s newest trailer answered some questions, but it gave us more as well. Perhaps the most important of which focus on its TV-MA rating.

CBS Entertainment has been putting out trailers and teasers of various lengths on a daily basis for the upcoming Star Trek Discovery since the end of Star Trek Las Vegas. The newest trailer, released on Thursday, was a minute in length and showed us new footage and gave us our best look at Captain Gabriel Lorca.

It also gave us a look at something which might prove to be problematic for fans of the franchise more accustomed to Star Trek’s traditional PG-13 (at most) content. Recently, Aaron Harberts, one of Discovery’s showrunners, assured fans that Star Trek’s newest entry would be edgier than what they’re accustomed to, but not excessively so.

Per NCC-1031:

"“[W]hat’s important to the creative team is the legacy of the show which is passed down from mother to daughter, from father to son, from brother to brother. We want to make sure we’re not creating a show that fans can’t share with their families. You have to honor what the franchise is. I would say we’re not going much beyond hard PG-13.”"

Around the ten second mark of the trailer, a TV-MA rating is displayed on the screen. According to TVGuidelines.org, a TV-MA rating means the following:

"This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program may contain one or more of the following: crude indecent language (L), explicit sexual activity (S), or graphic violence (V)."

By this defenition, this definitely isn’t your grandpa’s Star Trek, or even your older brother’s Star Trek. Mind you, this is not to say that a well-written show with a TV-MA rating can’t be a fantastic viewing experience. Some of the best shows in the past decade have had such a rating, including Game of Thrones, South Park, The Sopranos, Homeland, Fargo, True Detective, Mr. Robot and Orange Is The New Black.

Needless to say, violence, language and sexual activity are not the only thing those shows have in common, but those shows are also not catering to an audience anything like what Star Trek: Discovery will be going after.

One of the great things about Star Trek through the decades is that the entry point has been welcome to all ages. I was raised on Star Trek: The Next Generation and truly don’t remember a time before Star Trek was a part of my life. If this rating remains in place (and is warranted), that entry point may not hold true for this generation like it did previous eras.

Next: A closer look at Captain Gabriel Lorca

Hopefully Star Trek: Discovery’s writers and producers walk this fine line and keep the show as acceptable to all ages as they possibly can.