Episode 1×07 “Majority Rule” of The Orville tackles a few ideas simultaneously, but most pointedly, the idea that social media governs perceptions of others. This notion was not simply a part of the social fabric that Capt. Mercer and his crew were infiltrating to locate lost anthropologist, but it was the backbone of their society, a sort of pseudo legal system. We will get back to that. What is more poignant than how this episode relates to our current cultural landscape is the timing of the material.
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) October 27, 2017
Explaining that he wrote the episode “a year and a half” before it aired puts the writing in around April of 2016. This means it was during the contentious primary races for the Democrat and Republican party nominations. By definition, a popularity contest. This was the first time that so much attention was paid to Twitter as a platform for candidates to connect with their prospective voters. Moreover, it need not be said that factual inaccuracies and belittling comments were more prevalent than ever before in a presidential primary race. This is something that has actually increased since the election held almost a year ago. Fitting that this episode air during a time when political rhetoric is primarily filtered through, and spread by, social media.
This makes this episode relatable. It makes it profound, and forces viewers to question their own reliance on social media to inform their opinions and communicate their ideas. Most especially because Lt. LaMarr faces a possible lobotomy for something as benign as grinding an inanimate object in public. Which leads us to the deeper issue raised. What constitutes a crime, in as far as we hold historical figures up as indisputable and infallible heroes. Denying a society the ability to criticize its leaders and significant figures stymies their ability to think critically and rationally. This is evident in the Sargasian reaction to a statue receiving pelvic thrusts and immediately thinking the thruster deserving of a horrible procedure that will potentially cause him irreparable brain damage.
The one problem I have with this episode, and it seems like something that will occur again, is that Lt. Malloy knows and has an opinion about “American Idol” but Alara has never heard of a concept like money. The former was obviously included for its comical effect, while the latter might have been a way to fill ninety seconds of dialogue, or simply give the viewers a chance to feel like Alara’s culture is very different from that of Earth. Small but noticeable quirks like this can add up over time, but for now, I am willing to accept them as part of a growing show and developing writers’ room.
This episode, perhaps more than the previous six, personifies what The Orville can do. That is present social commentary with a healthy dose of humor with the backdrop of science fiction. This makes for entertaining, thought provoking television that deserves to be watched, and loved. Oh, and tweeted about…don’t forget to go on Twitter and like the show. 😉