Star Trek: Prodigy introduces kids to a new frontier of inclusion with non-binary lead character
The animated Star Trek kids’ series premiered on Paramount+ last week with a star-studded voice cast including Ella Purnell, Brett Gray, Rylee Alazraqui, Angus Imrie and Jason Mantzoukas.
The show is already winning praise for its thoughtful messaging, which teaches children the importance of acceptance, individuality and looking beyond appearances.
This careful inclusivity is established from the first episode when a simple pronoun correction is defly handled by Gwyn, voiced by Ella Purnell. “Fugitive Zero isn’t a ‘him’ or a ‘her,” she says after one character refers to them as ‘he’.
Zero is a Medusan, an energy-based species that have no gender or corporeal form. That’s hardly new to Star Trek: Medusans have been around since the Original Series, and the show has dealt with non-binary and shifting genders many times since.
Director Ben Hibon says continuing the show’s egalitarian legacy was a big focus for the creative team.
“I feel like Trek has always been the story of many rather than the story of one. By taking that approach, it has such a wider appeal and way to connect with an audience,” he told TV Fanatic.
“It never isolates. It never judges. And it always tries to include. In my opinion, that is one of the strengths. There are many, but that is one of them.”
This message is affirmed in another gender non-conforming moment: when the ship’s translators kick in and Rok-Tahk’s deep growls are transformed into a little girl’s voice.
The other characters momentarily express surprise and then move on, a normal reaction from people in a world inhabited by aliens without a binary sense of gender.
It’s entirely in keeping with the open-minded vision of the future that’s characterised Star Trek since its inception, and the moment firmly establishes Prodigy on well-trodden ground.
After the first episode aired scores of Trekkies took to Twitter to share their love for a show that’s still boldly going where none have gone before, 55 years after it first began.
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