content by

Tim Ford

Star Trek, Wah Chang, and the Ongoing Legacy of “Balance of Terror”

Progress is measured in firsts. The first person on the moon. The first Black woman on the Supreme Court. The first country where gay marriage was legalized.

Recognizing Asian Heritage/AAPI Month, we can honour such firsts—the first Asian American senator, Hiram Fong, the first Asian woman to win the Best Director Oscar, Chloé Zhao—while also recognizing the lengths we still have to go. There has never, for instance, been an Asian American on the Supreme Court.

In pop culture, the shows that move the needle on progress are celebrated for what they depict, how they depicted it, and when it was depicted. 1966’s Star Trek is one such show: A seminal series in the history of television, with a deeply humanist vision that is still celebrated by an international and multigenerational fan base. There are, of course, aspects that have not aged well—the all-too-frequent casual sexism, for instance—but it was groundbreaking in some important ways, including the prominent inclusion of a Black woman and an Asian man in the main cast, and in its onscreen depiction of interracial relationships and sexuality.

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