Star Trek Writers Fat-Shamed Stars By Writing It Into The Story

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek voyager

Star Trek: Voyager was full of great relationships, and perhaps none more so than the friendship between Tom Paris and Harry Kim. That friendship extended beyond the screen, and their respective actors (Robert Duncan McNeill and Garret Wang) now have a recap podcast, The Delta Flyers, in which they drop some of the hottest goss from this fan-favorite Trek show. Sometimes, they even drop downright depressing news, including the fact that after they both began to gain weight, both the swriters and the costume department ended up fat-shaming them in some very brutal ways.

Victims Of Craft Services

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How did all of this fat-shaming get started? According to our favorite space bros, the two of them became a little too fond of craft services on set, causing them to put on a bit of extra weight. They didn’t really worry too much about it–that is, until the creative forces of Star Trek: Voyager decided to shame them directly in an episode.

Writers Hid The Fat-Shaming In Plain Sight

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In the season four episode “Demon,” Paris and Kim must navigate a strange new planet while wearing their protective environmental suits. When the suits are compromised (making the simple act of walking difficult) Paris asks Kim if he has put on weight, causing his friend to accuse Paris of simply being out of shape. Paris makes a wager that he’ll begin exercising every day if Kim can hold his breath long enough for them to reach the shuttle, but he is soon forced to admit Kim was right and “I definitely need to get back in shape.”

McNeill And Wang Were Put On Notice

When this episode aired way back in 1998, Star Trek: Voyager fans didn’t read anything into this exchange–it seemed like the typical back-and-forth banter these characters normally engaged in. But on an episode of The Delta Flyers podcast, Ensign Kim actor Garret Wang tells Tom Paris actor Robert Duncan McNeill that the dialogue in question “was a razz on you and myself.” McNeill agreed, and Wang continued, expressing his shock that this explicit fat-shaming was actually placed “in the script” and insisting that it was how the show’s producers let the actors know they were “put on notice.”

No More Mr. Nice Harry Kim

In a vacuum (like the cold vacuum of the Delta Quadrant), you might think these Star Trek: Voyager actors were just being paranoid. But according to Wang, at the same time this deprecating dialogue appeared in the script, girdles from the costume department appeared in their trailer. Though McNeill quipped that he “loved the girdle,” a more sober Wang describes hating how restrictive it was and how he engaged in a bit of protest by throwing the girdle away and, in the short-term, simply sucking in his belly every single time the camera was on him. 

Wang’s protest didn’t stop there: he also began “several weeks of non-stop gym, every day, before or after work” after reading the script because he didn’t want the Star Trek: Voyager writers to “make any cracks at me in future episodes.” This nonstop regimen worked relatively quickly, but things weren’t so easy for McNeill. Though he took up “spinning classes and cycling,” his weight continued to fluctuate in later seasons, and he described the process of trying to lose weight and keep it off as “a constant struggle.”

They Let It Brush Off Their Shields

Because their Star Trek: Voyager recap podcast is meant to be light and humorous, McNeill effectively ended the anecdote by suggesting to Wang that the two of them “go back to cardio” because they were both “committed in this new year to cardio and healthier eating and exercise and getting in shape.” While it’s good that he can maintain this level of positivity, we still can’t help but be angry at the fact they were fat-shamed by both the writers and the producers. 

In addition to just being a scummy thing to do, what these two are describing seems downright hypocritical. In a franchise ostensibly devoted to “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations,” such mean-spirited shaming should have been shut down quicker than Captain Janeway beaming Tuvix into oblivion.