Star Trek: Lower Decks creator Mike McMahan defended the animated series after drawing flak from some fans over its controversial Mugato, Gumato episode.
In season 2, episode 4 of the sci-fi animated series, Boimler (Jack Quaid) and Rutherford (Eugene Cordero) stumbled upon two Mugatos while on Frylon IV. When the pair of Mugatos started to mate, another Mugato suddenly appeared. Hiding in a hollow log, Boimler and Rutherford were worried that the newly arrived Mugato will try to disturb the love-making of the first two Mugatos. But much to Boimler and Rutherford’s surprise, the solo Mugato simply watched the two Mugatos have sex while stroking its own horn.
A number of viewers found the scene too racy for a Star Trek episode, but McMahan didn’t feel that way.
“Oh my god, watch five minutes of Solar Opposites, and you’ll see there are limits in Lower Decks,” McMahan told TrekMovie earlier this month, referring to the Hulu animated series that he also runs. “You know, I’ve never seen Star Trek as celebrating puritanism. I think that Star Trek has always embraced sexuality, humanism, and all sorts of great stuff. When you’re making shows like this, you’re trying to find those limits. Even in TNG, you’ve got people tugging on Ferengi ears. There’s always been that kind of stuff.”
McMahan knew that a lot of fans were “whipped up” about the “Mugato yanking on its horn,” but for him, he simply found the moment “funny.” “It was one of those moments where the artists kind of pushed for it and they made me laugh,” he explained. “And at the end of the day, we’re trying to make a show that’s Star Trek, but also makes you laugh. And I’ve got to be honest, for people that are pearl-clutching and freaking out because we had a suggestive moment in an adult animated show, it’s just falling on deaf ears.”
McMahan continued: “It still felt like Star Trek to me. And if you’re putting your 6-year-old in front of Lower Decks, like, there’s been other stuff. There’s been other violence, there have been other complex stories that you’re trusting them with. I think a Mugato yanking on its horn is not the most adult thing we’ve done.”
Despite the controversy, McMahan said that he still aspires to continue surprising Star Trek fans with what they do in Lower Decks. “I think none of us makes TV looking to make something that people expect,” he said. “We look to make something that people are surprised by. I think sometimes you’re not going to like stuff. Sometimes you’re going to love stuff. There’s a lot of different people watching these shows, and we’re just doing our best to bring something into the world that makes us all really happy.”
Season 2 of Star Trek: Lower Decks drops a new episode every Thursday at 3:01 a.m. ET on Paramount+.