“All these old white dudes in the room”: Despite Patrick Stewart in Lead Role, One Actor Found Star Trek Sexist and Regressive Until Gene Roddenberry Passed Away

Denise Crosby believed Star Trek was deeply sexist until Gene Roddenberry's passing, which influenced her decision to leave the series.

patrick stewart in star trek, gene roddenberry

SUMMARY

  • The original Star Trek series was infamous for its overt and insensitive sexism, a theme that has endured throughout much of the franchise's development.
  • Denise Crosby departed from Star Trek due to dissatisfaction with her role, despite her fondness for the character Tasha Yar. Following her exit, she maintained a consistent presence on television.
  • Crosby pursued roles that resonated with her in television for decades after leaving Star Trek.
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Star Trek has long sparked a divided conversation among the people. While some view the saga as profoundly progressive and liberating, others including actress Denise Crosby, who has been a part of the saga, criticize its perceived sexism.

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Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Picard [Credit: Paramount+]
Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: Picard [Credit: Paramount+]
Despite this, Patrick Stewart, a prominent advocate for the LGBTQ community, remains a staunch supporter of the franchise. Crosby, despite acknowledging its liberal and progressive themes later in the years, felt the show fell short in its portrayal of women.

Denise Crosby Found Star Trek to Be Deeply Sexist

The original Star Trek series was notorious for its unabashed and thoughtless sexism. Female characters were often scantily dressed, portraying either submissive, air-headed sex symbols or conniving, manipulative ones. Unfortunately, these portrayals have persisted throughout much of the franchise’s evolution.

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Denise Crosby echoed these concerns about the saga’s sexist undertones in a revealing interview with IGN. She revealed,

And now they’re like, ‘Oh my God, there’s no … women,So now we’ve got to keep Marina and Gates we’ll recast. … It kind of wreaked havoc. That wasn’t my intention. My intention was to get somebody in the room and tell me, ‘What is this going to be? What is this character?’ It’s such an incredible opportunity. 

Denise Crosby
Denise Crosby in a still from Star Trek: The Next Generation | Paramount

She further explained,

You have so much here, but I’m not going to just be the token hot blonde on the show. But they had a ’60s mentality. It was all these old white dudes in the room until, God love them, until Gene passed. And it shifted. There was a shift when [showrunner] Michael Piller came onto the show [in Season 3] and things changed.

She noted that after Gene Roddenberry passed away, there was a notable shift in the perspective of the showrunners. When The Original Series was reimagined with Kirk in the lead, Number One was nowhere. However, it would still be another three decades before Star Trek finally featured a woman as a first officer. Despite the progress being delayed, it did come through.

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Why Denise Crosby Abruptly Left Star Trek: The Next Generation?

Denise Crosby left Star Trek because she was not satisfied with her role, despite her appreciation for the character Tasha Yar. Following her departure from the series, she continued to work steadily for decades, primarily in television.

Audiences familiar with her would likely recognize her best as Tasha Yar, despite her varied roles in one-off appearances on shows like The X-Files, and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, among many others.

In an interview with StarTrek.com, she explained,

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Although it was Gene’s idea to have the character die. He thought it would be so shocking. I was struggling with not being able to do much with the character. I had all these ideas and couldn’t do them. I was just stage dressing. I chose to leave instead of just being satisfied with that.

Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in season 3 of Star Trek: Picard | Paramount+
Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in season 3 of Star Trek: Picard | Paramount+

The Walking Dead was one show where people got reminded of her acting chops yet again. One of her most prominent film roles was as Rachel Creed, the female lead in the original adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, which she starred in shortly after leaving The Next Generation. While fans missed her, it was evident that she pursued the work she believed in and was happy doing.

The Next Generation is streaming on Paramount+.

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Written by Sampurna Banerjee

Articles Published: 940

Sampurna Banerjee, an ardent enthusiast of pop culture and movies, pours her passion into her role as a writer for FandomWire. With a penchant for Marvel, DC, and sitcoms, she has contributed over 400 articles, staying up-to-date to the entertainment industry's latest buzz. Moreover, she's penned over 300 articles for Animated Times and shared her work across several Instagram pages. Currently she is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Calcutta University.