When the cleavage came, I became… like a potted palm on the bridge

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Actress Marina Sirtis played the role of Deanna Troi in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, which remains the defining iteration of the sci-fi franchise for a large section of fans. As a result, Star Trek fans have often taken issue with some of the depictions, themes, and storylines in the series that ran for seven seasons.

Marina SirtisMarina Sirtis
Marina Sirtis in a still from Star Trek: Picard

One of the major issues with the show was the portrayal of Deanna Troi, which initially lacked any sort of nuance as she was reduced to a decorative item. Marina Sirtis has voiced her concerns with her character’s sexualized depiction in the series, which will only add to the displeasure of fans. Here is what Sirtis has said about playing Deanna Troi.

Marina Sirtis Criticized Deanna Troi’s Costume in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Marina SirtisMarina Sirtis
Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation features one of the most diverse ensembles on television including Patrick Stewart’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Brent Spiner’s Commander Data, and Wil Wheaton’s Wesley Crusher. However, Marina Sirtis’ Deanna Troi, the counselor of USS Enterprise-D, always stood out, particularly because of her revealing costume.

During an appearance at DragonCon in 2010, Sirtis opened up about her character’s costume which had a deep neckline and showed off ample cleavage. Sirtis stated how Hollywood had an unsaid rule where female characters with cleavage were often portrayed as dumb.

“So, I got a cleavage, and all my gray matter departed. Which was sad, because originally, Troi was supposed to be the brains of the Enterprise. So when the cleavage came, all that left, and I became decorative, like a potted palm on the bridge.”

Sirtis made the above statement (via The Geek Twins) explaining how she was given a different costume that sexualized her character after the pilot episode. Troi wasn’t given a traditional Starfleet costume until the seventh season, which came as a major relief to Sirtis. The actress also noted how her character became more important and smart after the costume change.

Gene Roddenberry’s Initial Plan For Deanna Troi Was Even More Bizarre

Given that the Star Trek franchise is known for its progressive themes, the depiction of Deanna Troi, as a less intelligent and more sexy member of the USS Enterprise-D’s crew has certainly troubled some fans. However, the original plan for the character was even more troubling and borderline bizarre.

Gene RoddenberryGene Roddenberry
Gene Roddenberry in the intro for The Cage, the original pilot for Star Trek

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, writer D. C. Fontana revealed that series creator Gene Roddenberry initially wanted the half-human, half-Betazoid Troi to be depicted with more than two breasts. However, Fontana was quick to shut down the idea and strongly opposed such a portrayal of a woman. She recounted:

“I objected to Troi having three breasts. I felt women have enough trouble with two. And how are you going to line them up? Vertically, horizontally, or what? I was like, please, don’t go there. And they didn’t, fortunately.”

Thankfully the initial idea never materialized, but it serves as a reminder of Roddenberry’s approach to female characters, such as Troi, who was mostly relegated to romantic subplots for most of the show’s run. As a result, fans have often discussed Troi’s poor characterization in the series with intense disdain, implying they will never forgive Roddenberry for squandering Troi’s potential.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is streaming on Paramount+.

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