Monday, May 6, 2013

TNG: In Tribute To Troi

When I was a kid I was completely enamored of Deanna Troi. She was beautiful and sensitive and kind. Basically, she reminded me a lot of my mom who was also beautiful and sensitive and kind.
My Mom around my peak Deanna Troi phase
I never wanted my mom to change but of course she did--or at least my understanding of who she was did. I came to understand that she is also intelligent, witty, and strong. She's not without flaws but her flaws shape her character and make her human. And that brings me back to Deanna Troi.

Just as I started watching Next Gen, I attended 25th TNG Reunion in Burbank. I watched Marina Sirtis speak there and found that she was hilarious, opinionated, and whip smart. As an adult, Troi was never one of my favorite characters but I couldn't put my finger on why that was. Then I delved into TNG again and the more I wrote about the show, the more I realized that it really took Troi a while to come into her own.

For the first five seasons most of Troi's plots revolved around her falling in love with dangerous men or arguing with her zany mother. She was often a victim and she was often passive. She wore unitards with lots of cleavage and much of her job involved looking beautiful and empathetic. It was the rare scene when Sirtis' natural charm and spunk had any opportunity to come through.

Then, Captain Hardass came along and told her to put on a damn uniform.

She looks pretty miffed in this picture but I'm betting that, on the inside, Deanna was screaming for joy. Why? Because from here on out Troi becomes a different, more interesting, more real, human character. A mere two episodes later and she wakes up on a Romulan ship and she has to quickly adapt and take command of the situation to keep herself alive and keep the already fragile relations between the Romulans and the Federation from falling apart.

Obviously Marina Sirtis is gorgeous but I think her cleavage (glorious as it was) was holding her back. After Deanna Troi got a Starfleet uniform she got better stories. She went on away missions. She helped save the crew from Lore and his Borg chums and she eventually passed the Bridge Officer's Test and became Commander Troi. And this makes me happy. Just as I'm glad that I know my mom as a person and not just as the etherial fairy queen I imagined her to be in my childhood, I'm glad that Troi had an opportunity to evolve beyond her original, rather narrow parameters. It's only too bad this didn't happen sooner.


  1. i know precisely what you mean. in the first couple of seasons, it galled me to no end that she was constantly on the bridge for no real reason. despite the fact that, after season two or so, basically nobody ever makes use of her empathic abilities, i jumped for joy when she got her promotion. and (spoiler alert): the fact that she could attract hottie number one, friggin' worf, means she must be some kinda warrior on the inside.

    ps: i just bit the bullet and watched the last two episodes of the series, which i've been holding off on for like, six months, because i didn't want it to end. i cried all night and thought of your blog.

    1. Yes! I know. I totally shipped Worf/Deanna and wished they'd ended up together. However, Worf/Jadzia was pretty frickin awesome! And yes--All Good Things. I literally can't even SAY THE NAME of the series finale without choking up. I've watched all of these episodes many, many times over the years but I think I've only seen the finale twice.

    2. "five card stud. nothing wild. THE SKY'S THE LIMIT."

      i'ma put that shit on my GRAVE.

  2. This is a really great post. I love the comparison you drew. Well done!


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