Exclusive Interview: Mike McMahan On ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’, Perfecting Alien Humour, And More

For the uninitiated, Mike McMahan has labored because the manufacturing assistant of Drawn Together and South Park, the writers assistant of Out There, China, IL, and Rick and Morty. He has served as the chief producer of Solar Opposites and Rick and Morty. And he is written episodes of Axe Cop, Star Trek: Short Treks, Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites, and his newest work, Star Trek: Lower Decks. So, I nearly sat down with him to speak about his Trek-isms, creating Badgey, and extra!

Star Trek: Lower Decks has performed its US run. Now, it’s opening to a global viewers. What are your ideas?

“I am beyond excited. You know, Star Trek doesn’t feel like a North American only idea. It feels like a global story. And I am just so happy that more people like me around the world are going to get to check it out.”

Despite rising up with the slightly heroic strategy of the Kelvin timeline to Star Trek, I actually associated with Lower Decks due to its middle-class sensibilities. How integral was that to the writing course of?

“Well, I mean, we have all worked jobs where we are Lower Decks. I definitely have. And the experiences I have had in those jobs were really positive. I have a lot of friends and a lot of collaborators who I met when we were doing kind of the lowest of the low jobs. And spending years doing that, like, generations before me, they would start working in Hollywood in creative ways, and they would have opportunities to go zooming on up. I worked as a production assistant for multiple years, I was in 20th Century Fox for three years, I have worked setting up tables in bars, and all sorts of menial jobs, and just because the job isn’t spectacularly important, it doesn’t mean you don’t have an awesome time doing it or you can’t meet awesome people doing it. So, taking that and taking experiences from me and the other writers and trying to figure out ways to put them into a sci-fi lens and a Star Trek lens. A big thing about Star Trek is that humans have this capacity for goodness and it’s just not the people on the bridge. There are people all around you all the time who might not be the most important person in the room but it doesn’t mean they’re not a person. It doesn’t mean that they’re not doing something great. So, taking that mentality and putting it into Star Fleet was definitely a guiding light all throughout.”

Was there ever a second the place you felt that you just’ve written yourselves right into a nook as a result of the characters don’t all the time have the straightforward approach out that different heroic characters had within the franchise? Or was that problem empowering?

“Most of the time, what we tried to do was, if there was a problem, it wasn’t that they were not capable because everybody in Star Fleet is probably amazing at their job because they’ve graduated from Star Fleet Academy. But there are two things that get in the way to easy success for these guys. One of them is context. They don’t always know what’s going on. They don’t always have all the information because their jobs aren’t on the bridge. They’re not coordinating everything. And so, you’ll find that the jobs they’re doing, because they don’t know some of the information, they become sort of impossible until they do. And the other thing is that they’re not at the top of their careers. They don’t have the experience yet. Any scientist can tell you that you’re not going to get the exact right results from a test every single time. You’re gonna be learning and you’re gonna be finding out things as you go. That’s what we’re seeing with our Lower Deckers, is that they have the capacity to be great and they have the desire to be great and to be just and moral. And they have principles but they don’t always have the experience. So, they’re learning who they are and what their paths are gonna be along with being these Lower Deckers. So, it’s a combination of that stuff.”

Tell me a little bit bit about Badgey. I is perhaps trying too deeply into this however is it like a commentary on how a franchise can turn into its personal Frankenstein?

“[laughs] If you wish to take it like that, you’ll be able to. But my considering on Badgey was, you recognize, we wished to do one thing that was our model of Moriarty from Star Trek: The Next Generation. You’re not a giant TNG man however Moriarty was a Sherlock Holmes holodeck creation that when the holodeck broke down, he was capable of escape the holodeck and trigger issues. We have been like, ‘Oh! What can be our animated version of that’. And for me for some time, I used to be like, ‘Okay, we are making a show where we are referencing Star Trek shows that were made in the late 80’s and the 90’s’. So, Clippy the Microsoft assistant was one thing from the tip of the 90’s and it felt like if our present was within the timeline of when these TNG period exhibits have been made, Clippy would’ve been one thing that will’ve influenced the writers again then. So, it was sort of a mix of that stuff.”

Amazon Prime Video

You’ve virtually perfected this wacky, area humour with Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites, and Lower Decks. How did you make sure that every had a flavour of its personal and didn’t spill into the opposite one?

“[laughs] It’s funny that a lot of the time, I mean I am still friends with the Rick and Morty guys, and for a while I was doing some of these shows concurrently but it’s just making sure that you can watch everything and what you’re doing speaks to the characters that you’re doing for each individual show. Like the characters in Rick and Morty and the characters in Solar Opposites are so different from the characters in Star Trek: Lower Decks that even if they encounter a similar sci-fi-themed entity of some sort, some antagonist, the storyline is gonna be different because the characters are coming from different places and the types of stories that we are telling are so different. So, you know, one of the things that we try to do is that we really try to make everything feel really Star Trek. On Rick and Morty, they’re kind of doing their own thing. They’re kind of taking sci-fi concepts and they’re putting them into the world of Rick and Morty. For us, we’re doing the opposite. We’re taking Star Trek concepts and putting them in an animated version of Star Trek. So, unless Rick and Morty started to do things that were flat out Star Trek, which they’ve never done, we’re probably not going to bump into each other. But! If you love sci-fi and you love these themes, you know, we were playing with stuff that gets people like us excited, you’ll occasionally see things that appeared on Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites, Robot Chicken, Southpark, and The Simpsons. There are some evergreen things that you just want to play with but it depends on how much you use it, how long you do it, how they react to it. It’s all those different things that make it feel fresh and different.”

And I’ll depart you with a barely existential query. Right now, if you got the chance to board the USS Cerritos and fly off, would you do it and the place would you go?

“Oh wow! It could be powerful. I offers you an unsatisfying reply. I’d like to do it as a result of I’ve been in my home with my two-year-old and my six-year-old for a yr and at this level, if a smelly outdated rubbish boat confirmed up and take me on a one-day voyage, I’d bounce on it and be like, ‘Let’s go!’. I imply, the true area is harmful and scary and filled with radiation, and the within of spaceships smells like sweat [laughs]. I don’t suppose I’ll be a great astronaut. Being a Star Trek astronaut although, a Star Fleet officer, yeah, there’s one thing that does really feel like house to me on these ships. I imply, I did develop up watching TNG and to be surrounded by these people who find themselves the very best of the very best, they’re good at their jobs, and so they’re good to one another, and so they simply wanna be higher, and so they wanna discover and be taught new issues, after all, I’d get aboard the Cerritos. It’s a dream. And I’d wanna try Orion. I really feel like we haven’t seen sufficient of Orion and I like writing the character Tendi. She makes me excited to see Orion. It’s like whenever you meet anyone and also you’ve by no means been to their hometown however they speak about it in ways in which make you wanna go, that’s what Tendi does for me.”

In an interview with Jack Quaid (Who performs Brad Boimler in Star Trek: Lower Decks), after I requested him this query, even he stated that he would fortunately bounce aboard the USS Cerritos and go the place nobody has gone earlier than. So, when and if that ship/alternative comes, I positively have to be round in order that I can be part of them. Heck, since McMahan is such an enormous Trekkie, I’ll attempt my degree finest to get all generations of the franchise aboard and simply have an interstellar occasion. But till that occurs, go and take a look at McMahan’s work in Lower Decks on Amazon Prime Video as a result of it’s actually superior!

SEE ALSO: Star Trek: Lower Decks Review – This Is The Closest We’ll Come To Getting That Quentin Tarantino Star Trek Movie

Cover art work by Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India

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Written by Vibhu Bajaj

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