Could Fox Pull This Episode Of The Orville Over Its Provocative Plot Line?

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Becker/FOX.
Seth MacFarlane's new space-themed show, The Orville, hasn't been received well by critics. It's been compared to Star Trek, and not in a good way. Critics have noted that The Orville owes much to the predecessor to which it's an apparent homage — but it doesn't add much of MacFarlane's signature humor into the equation. (At least, going by the pilot, anyway.) Lack of humor aside, though, there's another reason The Orville is already being criticized. The show apparently has an episode coming up about sex reassignment surgery. And based on the reviews so far, people are wondering if that episode will even make it to air.
Vox's Caroline Framke writes that an upcoming episode will address the possibility of "an alien baby getting sexual reassignment surgery." BuzzFeed's Kate Aurthur confirms the storyline is included in The Orville's third episode.
"The way this episode plays out makes it one of the most transparent and least necessary takes on the vast complexities of gender," Framke writes. "The episode, written by MacFarlane, clearly thinks it’s shedding light and nuance on a fraught topic; it's unclear if MacFarlane, a straight cis white guy, consulted anyone other than himself on said topic. But I would be shocked to discover that was the case, since the episode just ends up reciting bullet points too simplistic even for the transgender Wikipedia entry, and letting characters exchange the same basic arguments in scene after excruciating scene."
Ouch. Aurthur also notes that the storyline also involves a change of heart thanks to a viewing of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; it's not clear how the holiday classic relates to gender in any capacity.
As of now, there are no reports that Fox won't air the episode. But if the negative press continues, the network could decide not to show that episode, and substitute a different one in its place. (There aren't a ton of fan tweets criticizing the storyline yet, but that could change as the show gains more press and viewership.)
On the other hand, it's also possible The Orville was just the victim of a bad pilot and that it will redeem itself in future episodes. After all, Charlize Theron is guest-starring in one episode of the first season, so that's sure to be entertaining.
Reps for Fox and MacFarlane didn't immediately respond to Refinery29's request for comment, but we will update this story if more information becomes available.
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