There is still a lot we don't know about Star Trek: Discovery, but news has been trickling out over the year since its announcement. We learned that the new series will be set in the Prime Universe and take place 10 years before the original Star Trek series. When Bryan Fuller was brought on as showrunner and co-creator, he made it clear that they intended to include gay characters and keep with the Star Trek tradition of diverse casting. Last week they made good on that, announcing Anthony Rapp had been cast as the character Lieutenant Stamets. Stamets is said to be a Science Officer, an astromycologist and an expert in fungus. From the looks of his twitter, Rapp is already underway in preparing for the roll.
The inclusion of a gay character in the franchise is a big deal for a number of reasons. While prior series' did make attempts at dealing with LGBT themes, they were very few and often problematic. The most notorious of these was the Next Generation episode "The Outcast," which I wrote about extensively last spring. The far better example is the Deep Space Nine episode "Rejoined." Most recently, this summer's Star Trek Beyond ret-conned Hikaru Sulu as gay, which was met by some criticism from the character's original actor George Takei. It's taken 50 years and roughly 700 episodes, but we're finally getting a gay character in the Star Trek canon. The other exciting part is: this is only one of three cast members we know so far. Doug Jones and Michelle Yeoh were also announced as Lieutenant Saru and Captain Georgiou respectively. The reported main character of the series has yet to be cast.
Not all of the news about Discovery has been good, however. It has also been announced that Bryan Fuller is no longer involved with the production of the show. Accusations have been made that this was due to pressures from CBS to rush the production in order to have it ready for their launch of their All Access streaming service. Fuller himself has said he had to make a choice between focusing on Star Trek or the upcoming American Gods. He is still credited as a co-creator and wrote a lot of the material that will presumably still be used. All Access itself has been another pain point for fans, as CBS has announced that the show will be available exclusively through streaming. In a way, this is keeping with Star Trek's history of tensions with broadcast television. The Next Generation found its way around it through syndication and proved to be a massive success in the long run. Hopefully, Discovery will find its own way as well.
There are still more casting announcements to come. Despite what's been reported about behind the scenes drama with CBS, there is still a lot to be excited about. I, for one, am feeling cautiously optimistic.