Star Trek Deep Space Nine: the quality and equality link

Revena has written several articles profiling the women of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, which I highly recommend. But having just finished the entire series on DVD, I want to chime in and say a little something about the series overall:

This is one of the very best series I have ever seen in terms of the portrayal of women. Off the top of my head, the only other show I can think of to contend with it is DaVinci’s Inquest. This is also one of the best and most consistent series overall to last seven years – many shows have been equally good for a couple of seasons, but to sustain that quality for that length of time? Amazing.

I find myself wondering if it’s any coincidence – the overall amazing quality of the show and its overall amazing equality of its representation of women as people. We’ve noted in the past that sexist ads tend to be for crap products, and theorized that this might happen because discriminating customers neither buy crap nor see women as lesser beings, and so the ads are meant to repel choosy people who might complain about poor quality. This seems even more apparent in TV.

Both Deep Space Nine and Da Vinci’s Inquest represent a convergence of top-quality writing and top-quality representation of women. Xena would rate a “damn good” in both categories – imperfect, but still a step forward. House would rate a “so close and yet so far” on both counts: the dialog is frequently excellent yet the cases and plot arcs (Tritter, for example) are often quite dodgy, and while it occasionally represents women very well, it consistently drags Cameron the perpetual teeny-bop girl along behind like an albatross.

Do bigotry and low-quality go hand in hand? Is bigotry really just the need to denigrate one group to make another look better? To skew “survival of the fittest” in favor of your group or the group you rely on for security? Is there a correlation between appreciating women and appreciating more cerebral and intelligent programming? Is bigotry anything more than a by-product of insecurity?

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