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The streaming age of Star Trek has matured the franchise in a number of ways. The fact that the series air on CBS All Access means they’re no longer bound by network rules so the tone can be darker, there can be more violence and the characters are free to swear. This last alteration, in particular, has been a controversial one, as Trek has generally been accessible to family audiences. In fact, it turns out even Jean-Luc himself was shocked by the swearing in Star Trek: Picard.
While speaking to TV Guide, Sir Patrick Stewart revealed that he was taken aback when he first came across a swear word in one of the show’s scripts. It seems the actor was aware that introducing stronger language into the series needed to be handled with care, as he notes that he was “unsettled” by the use of the F-word and had discussions with showrunner Michael Chabon on the topic.
“When I came across the first swear word in the first script, I can honestly tell you, I was deeply shocked. I grew up in a family where swearing was second nature. Every other word was a swear word, and yet when I read… it might have been the F-word that I read and I was shocked and unsettled by it. I think I did have a conversation with Michael [Chabon] about this use of language and how comfortable were we with it. It was something that had never been a part of previous Star Trek.”
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The rest of the crew of La Sirena may drop the odd expletive now and again, but don’t expect Picard to start getting all foul-mouthed in season 2. Stewart went on to say that he believes Picard has long taken a vow against using strong language, in a bid to never to offend anyone.
“I think that Picard had actually taken an active decision not to abuse language that would be unpleasant for people to hear whether it is abusive or offensive in some way, and he stuck to it,” Stewart says. “Even if he wanted to say, ‘Damn, blast,’ or whatever, he would, for the most part, manage to deny himself that pleasure.”
That’s a neat bit of head-canon from Stewart which shows how well he understands his character. And his reservations about swearing being introduced at all demonstrate how much he understands Trek as a whole. Fans have questioned why the decision was made, with Chabon addressing the controversy on social media. The EP explained that he believes swearing is a part of life and natural conversation and a more grounded show like Picard needed to reflect that. Fair enough.
Star Trek: Picard season 2 has been delayed by the pandemic, but it is a top priority for CBS once the TV industry can proceed.
Source: TV Guide