The Orville S01E07 “Majority Rule”
Orville Versus Mob Rule
The Orville continues flying high in the latest episode. Being more Trek than Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane isn’t above exploring serious themes, while poking fun at them. This pattern continues in “Majority Rule”, where MacFarlane and Co skewer both social media, and mob mentality that seems to be prevalent on social media.
When a pair of Union anthropologist go missing on an alien world, the Orville arrives to go looking for them. This world is very similar to Earth in our present in terms of technology, and the away team led by Kelley dresses the part. With her is helmsman John Lamarr, security officer Alara (disguising her alien features), and medical officer Dr. Claire Finn. The latter knows one of the anthropologists and is worried for his safety. Upon landing on the planet in disguise, they quickly learn the harsh system that governs the society. It is an anarchic democracy where people’s worth is measured in upvotes and downvotes. The more downvotes you get, the harsher you are treated. As one character states “It’s government by American Idol.” And when John does something VERY stupid, he faces a fate worse than death as he becomes trapped in the crude system.
Social Media Panic
As much as this episode takes on social media with its upvotes and downvotes, what it really does it tackle mob mentality. To this society, you’re less of a person the more downvotes you get. Get too many, you’re arrested and go on an apology tour of various talk shows to redeem yourself…or be sentenced if you hit a certain number of downvotes. The crowd is easily swayed to negativity, and lack nuance. The talk shows are all screaming heads like The View, The Chat, and every show on Fox News. If anything, this episode is a screaming indictment of the various witch hunts that happen on social media day after day, ruining lives with tweets and posts before things are fact-checked. The dystopian society, therefore, feels much more real.
Orville Crew Riding High
The Orville crew once again pull off strong performances. Penny Jerald gets to do more this time around as Claire and her character’s profile is expanded. J. Lee does a great job as Lamarr, but he unfortunately still comes off as a dimwitted idiot with an ego. Adrianne Palicki’s Kelley is cool under pressure, but overall doesn’t do much other than try to help Lamarr’s PR Agent. Two standouts are the guest roles. The first is Giorgia Whigham as a waitress who typifies the shallow and mercurial nature of the planet…only to change when she sees a bigger world. Loren Lester, most famous Robin and later Nightwing in various DC cartoons, has a chilling cameo of which I won’t get into the details here.
It’s another strong episode in a series that is flying high. If they continue to explore these kinds of themes, The Orville will prove itself to be more than a comedy. It will be a thoughtful commentary on our society…with gags.