Like many people from my generation, I was raised by the streets: Sesame Street, Street Sharks, Street Fighter. I've spent so many years obsessively watching those shows, and hundreds of others like them, that television is now the first thing that comes to mind when I think back to my childhood ... which is why I can never, EVER learn how my favorite TV series were made. Whenever I do, I discover that the same shows that brought me so much joy when I was a kid have brought nothing but pain and misery to the people making them, like how ...
In 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation debuted on television with all the enthusiasm of a death row inmate heading toward his execution by lethal enema. Back then, no one really thought that this follow-up to the adventures of Kirk and Spock would be a success. Not the studio, not even Patrick Stewart, who took the role of Captain Picard because, according to his agent, the series was bound to fail miserably, so he was essentially signing up for a free American holiday and a chance to work on his tan.
A chance he hasn't taken to this day.
The only person who really believed in the show was Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, and when I say "believed," I mean "believed" with a capital BELI for "Beyond Excessive and a Little Insane." As executive producer, Roddenberry told the writers that, in his vision of the new Trek verse, interpersonal conflicts no longer existed.
Everyone on the show was supposed to act and feel like this great big family full of love, sunshine, and Tribble farts, even if that made it impossible to write drama. Ironically, the writers who had a problem with this were promptly told to live long and prosper in another job, while those who stayed had to sit around and discuss Roddenberry's ideas about sex in space, so who was the real winner here?
The staff's therapists?
While working on TNG, Roddenberry was reportedly suffering from brain disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression, which ultimately culminated in a stroke in 1989 and his death in 1991. It's easy to see how his condition could have influenced his fanatical behavior while developing the series. For a man in rapidly declining health, it's not unusual to cling to an idea of a utopian future without lust, greed, or conflict after realizing he probably won't live long enough to see it happen for real. Still, by the end of the third season, Roddenberry's tyrannical grip on the scripts had purportedly caused 24 writers to quit the show out of frustration. Or maybe it had something to do with the unbearable stench caused by the new TNG uniforms, which apparently smelled worse than the inside of Shatner's girdle.
Everyone in this picture might as well be wearing a tiny red shirt on their nose.
It turns out that spandex is like the memory foam of smells, retaining the whiff of every drop of boob, armpit, and ball sweat you ooze into it. This slowly turned the TNG uniforms into skintight torture devices that steamed the actors in their own disgusting aromas throughout the day.
Also? They were apparently very painful. According to the show's costume designer, "Tight spandex fabric also gave the cast members recurrent back problems" until the costumes were thankfully replaced with wool alternatives around Season 3. However, that still leaves nearly 50 episodes of The Next Generation where the main cast was constantly in a state of nauseating olfactory agony.
Best Star Trek series ever.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was one of the first non-cartoons I really got into, mainly because it still felt like a cartoon, you know? Every character was a color-coded cliche, the fight scenes were more like grunting ballet, and it was all just so silly and campy and stupidly enjoyable, but only as long as your name wasn't David Yost.
David Yost played Billy Cranston (the original Blue Ranger) throughout MMPR, their first movie, and later Power Rangers Zeo, before his character finally moved to another planet to boink some aliens. We were of course sorry to see him go, but on the whole, it felt like a deserving end for a character who's taught kids everywhere that even nerds can kick some impressive amounts of ass. Except the show's producers, writers, and directors felt that Yost didn't deserve to play a badass space ninja in the first place. Not because he was nerdy, but because (and I'm paraphrasing here) they felt that a person can't be a superhero while constantly craving so much dick.
"Anyway, here's your battle phallic symbol."
Yost didn't come out as gay until after he left the show, but there has been talk about his sexual orientation pretty much since he first joined the cast in 1993. So naturally, not wanting to accidentally treat a gay guy like a human being, a lot of the crew decided to just play it safe and be complete jerks to Yost whenever they had the chance.
According to the actor, he had been called a "faggot" on numerous occasions while filming the show, and even had to deal with the producers calling in his co-stars and questioning them about his sexuality. You'd think that that could have been summed up by a quick "I heard the dude likes dudes," but maybe they wanted details or something? Pictures? Videos? I don't know how horrible people think.
It eventually got so bad that one day Yost decided he'd had enough and simply walked off set during lunch, never to return. Some may call it unprofessional. Yost called it trying to avoid suicide due to all the anger and emotional abuse. That sadly didn't help much, because he then spent two years trying to "pray the gay away" before finally suffering a nervous breakdown.
Silly fight scene break! No tears, dammit!
But as heinous as I find these accusations, I think that it's ultimately a good idea to have a conversation about whether gay people (even if their characters are never portrayed as such) can play superheroes. Therefore, I propose that we take every awkward, geeky, and dorky kid who has ever felt inspired by Yost's Blue Ranger, put them in the same room with the allegedly homophobic producers of Power Rangers, then lock the doors and ignore the screams for the next 20 minutes.