Star Trek: Voyager did Kes and the fans no favors.
Star Trek is supposed to be an augmented mirror of sorts, where we can hold up realistic questions to it and see how it’d play out in a science fiction setting. This is the core tenant of the franchise and what makes Star Trek inherently Star Trek. That is its defining trait and the thing that makes Trek what it is. So when Voyager introduced the two-year-old Ocumpan and her boyfriend, the maybe-30-something Talaxian Neelix, no one was comfortable with that.
While Kes was an adult for her people, maybe as mature as Neelix was in that regard, all people heard was “two years old”. While species mix all the time in Star Trek, Neelix, and Kes dating was the ultimate argument against such a concept.
Kes was a Kazon slave, abused routinely until Neelix convinced the newly arrived Voyager crew to help rescue her. Kes and the other Ocampans were saved, and she and Neelix joined the crew of Voyager after the fact. The show often times painted Kes as a tad naive but very smart, while they painted Neelix as very possessive.
They were not a good couple and the fans hated them. It wasn’t just the way Neelix was written or the fact he started dating a two-year-old. It was the fact her character was designed to be a walking problem. Maybe the writers didn’t intend for this to happen, but the creation of Kes was a bad idea from the start.
Seriously, what were the writers of Star Trek: Voyager thinking when they created her
The writer deliberately created a character that would be controversial. They made it abundantly clear that she was two, and that she was only going to live a few more years. They then gave her a creepy adult boyfriend, despite barely being into adulthood herself, and then, randomly gave her random psychic powers to spice her up.
She was day-old fried squash when all the writers really wanted was a pizza. You can’t turn one into another. There was nothing you could do to “fix” Kes. She was doomed from the start. Everything about her was going to be highly problematic and that was by design. Why? I have no idea, but I’d love to ask the creators of her why they felt it was appropriate to explore an age-gap relationship with a two-year-old.
She was way too young, had an inappropriate boyfriend, came from an alien race with a stupidly short lifespan, and had random powers that emerge for plot reasons.
She was designed to be controversial, so why is anyone surprised she was?