Science fiction can make for awkward love: The weirdest in ‘The Orville’
Fox’s The Orville has somehow found its niche in awkward. Described as “an awkward blend of comedy and drama”, or containing “an awkward number of references to 21st-century pop culture”, The Orville has stood out by not letting its audience get comfortable. Which is why the bumbling, thorny romances make perfect sense.
Let’s take a look back at The Orville’s first two seasons and hope that our relationships are easier than these.
Captain Ed Mercer & Commander Kelly Grayson
We love a good “will they won’t they” chemistry. After catching his wife Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki) cheating then divorcing her, Ed Mercer’s (Seth MacFarlane) career was crumbling from his emotional crisis. He finally accepted a job as captain of the USS Orville, only to find his first officer is his ex-wife, Kelly.
Thus begins an ongoing push-pull between Ed & Kelly, as they’re forced to work together, navigating lingering feelings. The gravitational pull between captain and first mate is undeniable, and we hope that at some point they give it another shot.
Lt. Commander Bortus & Klyden
Together for over six years, Bortus (Peter Macon) and Klyden’s (Chad Coleman) relationship includes an attempted stabbing, a public trial, tobacco addiction, and porn addiction. Coming from an all-male planet creates even more issues in their cultural shift onto the USS Orville.
Bortus & Klyden’s lumbering attempts to connect while navigating challenges beyond our imagination are a highlight of The Orville. We love watching the interactions between the couple, even when we find ourselves cringing. Klyden’s relationship frustration causing him to binge on ice cream & old movies hits us right in the feels.
Isaac & Claire
It’s hard to get more complicated than dating a robot. When Dr. Claire Finn (Penny Johnson Jerald) realizes she has feelings for Isaac (Mark Jackson), the artificial life form who has learned to anticipate her needs, she decides to pursue a romance that leaves everyone a little confused.
Isaac struggles to understand any human emotion, and his attempts are both sweet and hilarious. Isaac & Claire’s romance reminds us why being awkward is what makes The Orville so great.
Seth MacFarlane, who serves as both Orville creator & star, discussed the show’s awkward tone during an interview with Forbes. He cited the hour-long format as being the inspiration for the show’s blend of comedy & drama.
“Look, if this were a half-hour show, it would be a no-brainer”, MacFarlane explained. “The tone is the tone. It’s a sitcom. With an hour, there’s an obligation to tell a real story with some surprising twists, and a lot of times that means servicing the drama. I mean the show that I think really nailed it was Mash and that was so many years ago.”
MacFarlane also discussed the challenge of balancing these different tones and how it signified a break from shows like Family Guy or The Cleveland Show. “When I cut these shows together, they always feel fun,” he stated. “That’s the one thing that, whether we’re dealing with the comedy or the drama side of it, it always feels like a fun show, and I think that’s something that isn’t all that prevalent in television these days. I think a lot of what we’re seeing is very dark & very depressing.”
The future of The Orville remains unclear. The first two seasons aired on Fox, but it was announced that season 3 would be airing on Hulu. The platform initially said that season 3 would premiere in late 2020 but it has yet to provide a concrete release date.
MacFarlane told TV Line that he is working around the clock on season 3, and that the biggest setback has been COVID-19. “All I can say is we’re working on it. We’re working very hard,” MacFarlane asserted. “We got hit by this [pandemic delay] just like everyone else, but we are working on it. We will be back soon, folks.”