Star Trek: Discovery will be the first Star Trek series to have a black woman as the lead of the show. It's something that the cast and producers are extremely proud of, but it didn't get the same reaction from Star Trek fans on the internet.
The cast and creators of the latest Star Trek series got a chance to speak out about that backlash — and why they think those trolls have completely missed the point.
"Star Trek has always been a pictorial of diversity," said actress Sonequa Martin-Green, who headlines Discovery as Michael — yes, Michael — Burnham, Sarek's (James Frain) surrogate daughter and a rising Star Fleet officer. "If you say you love the legacy of Star Trek but you don't love [the diversity] then you've missed it. I encourage you to join us, come on the journey with us."
The actress later added at the Star Trek: Discovery press panel that her being the face of this series is in part because of the work that came before by the original series' Nichelle Nichols.
"I am standing on Nichelle's shoulders," she said. "I don't know if I can put it into words. I feel like if I tried I would cry and it would get really messy up here. It's such a privilege to be a part of a story that I truly believe is going to bring people together."
The diversity of Star Trek goes beyond race. Anthony Rapp steps into the role of Lt. Stamets — the first openly gay character in the Star Trek TV universe. He won't be a token gay man in the Discovery universe. Rapp announced during the panel that My So-Called Life alum Wilson Cruz will be joining the cast as Stamets' love interest.
The representation in the cast is to capture the spirit of Gene Rodenberry's original vision and Star Trek: Discovery. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman said during the Discovery press conference that the series will continue the tradition of reflecting the world around us.
"We live in very troubled times. Every day we look at the news and it's hard to see what we see," he explained. "Now, more than ever, Trek is needed to remind us of who we can be, the best of who we can be...Star Trek has always been a mirror to the time it's reflecting."
Showrunner Akiva Goldsman backed Martin-Green's statements at the press conference and explained the show's dedication to showing the world around us.
"Diversity is too simple a word. We're committed to complexity, the differences between cultures, between biology and preferences. These are the principles that Star Trek was based upon," he said. "The show's job and mission is to be inclusive. We're very, very purposeful about that. You will see as we move forward that it is by no means an accident. It is very intentional."
Earlier at the panel, Goldsman expressed his confusion that there was so much backlash in the show's casting.
"It's confusing to me the degree of backlash that we got because if you love science fiction then you love imagining yourself as something other," Goldsman said. "Star Trek is built around empathy, uniquely when it comes to long standing science fiction. Its primary grammar is that we see how we are the same and we accept each other's differences."
In hindsight, Goldsman doesn't believe that the rage had anything to do with Star Trek but internet culture.
"It spoke more to what's happening culturally on the internet than Star Trek, because Star Trek is all about how we hold hands and go forward together," he said.
Star Trek: Discovery premieres Sept. 24 on CBS before moving exclusively to CBS All Access.
(Full disclosure: TV Guide is owned by CBS)
Editor's note; This story has been changed to include the cast and producers' comments from the Star Trek Discovery press panel.