Evan’s log, Stardate One-Zero-Two-One-Two:
A fellow Trop author named A.C. DeLashmutt has fired a wobbly, misguided “photon Tropedo” at the Evanprise, making a case for First Officer William Riker as the sexiest Enterprise crewmember. Though I’m comfortable enough with my sexuality to tackle the Picard-Riker argument head-on, A.C. was too remiss (and sexist?) to even acknowledge the existence of the Enterprise’s female crew. Therefore I feel it is my duty to explain why the sexiest officer is not Deanna Troi, or Dr. Beverly Crusher, or… um… Guinan, before moving onto the main event.
Listen: I’m not blind. Deanna Troi is a spacebabe. For much of the series’ run, her personal prime directive is to slink around in a Starfleet “uniform” that, compared to her fellow crewmembers’ conservative, almost all-concealing threads, is laughably revealing. According to Troi’s Wikipedia page, Gene Roddenberry initially wanted to give the character four breasts. His wife talked him out of it, but apparently Rodenberry wouldn’t accept a mere two breasts unless he could plunge Troi’s neckline directly between them. (God bless you, Gene Roddenberry.) Yes, Troi’s cleavage runs as deep as the distrust between Federation and Romulan.
Here’s the problem (besides her eventual marriage to Riker, which is an Odyssey Class turnoff): Troi is half-Betazoid, which means she’s telepathic. Save a Ferengi, a telepath is the last person with whom I want to get romantically involved. Whatever perks might arise in the bedroom (she always knows what you want!) would be completely swallowed up by the terrifying black hole fact that SHE ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT YOU’RE THINKING. A one-night stand with Troi? Yes. Absolutely. But the next morning and ever after, her presence would reduce me to a tightly wound ball of crippling anxiety. And that’s not sexy.
While Troi’s deal-breaker is clear if not obvious, Dr. Beverly Crusher’s is a bit of a puzzle. On paper Dr. Crusher’s sexiness is a no-brainer: she’s a red-headed, intelligent, (presumably) sexually experienced doctor. Yet somehow she comes across less as a MILF and more as a MILH (Mom I’d Like to Hug), a MILAA (Mom I’d Like to Ask for Advice), even a MWSUBSOM (Mom Whose Son Used to Bug the Shit Outta Me). I don’t know if it’s the character’s demeanor—which could be too matronly (is that even possible? Who doesn’t love being mothered? Guys…?) and restrained—or, frankly, casting. Suffice to say that if J.J. Abrams rebooted The Next Generation and cast Christina Hendricks as Dr. Crusher, this whole sexiness debate would look like a silly Holodeck exercise. (For the sake of ten-year-old boys everywhere, someone get J.J. Abrams on the phone.)
Last, and very much least: Whoopi Goldberg’s Guinan. Guinan is the kind of woman you like to pal around with at the bar because she’s feeding you free drinks and you get a kick out of her goofy mystical wisdoms, and then one night you go back to her quarters because you’ve had nine too many but never sex with a black chick, and the next morning, when the hat’s off (not to mention the bloom), and you’ve woken up beside Jumpin’ Jack Flash, you’re like, Listen, Guinan… Last night was SO great. Seriously. But, I don’t want to jeopardize our friendship… And then Guinan makes this face, and you tell O’Brien to beam you the hell out of there, then find the nearest Vulcan, drop to your knees, and beg him for the mind meld to beat all mind melds.
That’s the kind of woman Guinan is.
Now that the rest of the contenders are out of the way, let’s talk William Riker—not Number One in the sexiness department, but first runner-up. I’ll admit that the hot younger model (seen here with the GOAT of Star Trek captains) would have given Picard a run for his money. He was passionate and tall, with a cleft in his chin that seemed to cut all the way down his chest and through his abdominals (I’m assuming). As a young officer, A.C., Riker’s strapping good looks probably excused what even you admit is borderline-sleazy behavior when it comes to the opposite sex (and the occasional androgynous alien—see Ep. 5.17, “The Outcast”).
The problem arises as the series progresses and Riker grows gradually thicker, hairier, and more tempered in all of his passions but one: sex. Suddenly his advances are like that of your friend’s beardo uncle, or the boss who never explicitly crosses any lines, but always seems to be making questionable comments and copping incidental feels. “Eternity never looked so lovely,” Riker says to Picard’s lady friend in Ep. 4.20, “Qpid,” as he looms over and behind her, not bothering to introduce himself before initiating Pickup Sequence 94713. Needless to say—given that she’s already locked a tractor beam onto Captain Jean-Luc Picard and isn’t into neck beards—the lady friend deflects Riker’s clumsy advances.
Which brings us to Captain Jean-Luc Picard. A.C., you’ve done most of my work for me by pointing out many of Picard’s sexiest attributes: the sleek physique, the accent, the vocabulary, the fact that he’s an “idealized man… a teacher, a judge, a general.” What about power and intelligence—not to mention a Scottish brogue and an encyclopedic knowledge of high art—isn’t sexy? Even his paternal role on the Enterprise (“father figure”—your words, A.C.) has to appeal to any woman with daddy issues, by which I mean every woman in the galaxy.
The only reasons Picard isn’t sexy on paper are that he’s kind of old and very much bald. Except that (a) women like older men; and (b) in direct, borderline-hilarious contrast to Riker, Picard is an ageless fucking wonder who defies everything we know about the way the human body deteriorates. Even more impressive: he looks good bald. Jean-Luc Picard is a white man who doesn’t shave his head who looks better bald than he did with hair. That is nothing short of a miracle; meanwhile, William Riker grows more red-faced and slovenly by the season. From the hundredth episode on, I’m always expecting Number Tons-o-Fun to have a foot-long meatball from Subway in one hand, a phaser he keeps dropping in the other, his fingers too chubby and slicked with marinara to operate it; Worf rolling his eyes, Troi trying to be supportive, Picard just shaking his head (I remember when I envied that man).
Picard is more powerful, smart, cultured, and blessed (not “freighted”—what a warped and revealing choice of words, A.C.) with principles and enlightenment than Riker will ever be. Picard looks better at sixty than Riker does at forty, and he captains his own Galaxy Class starship while Riker is nothing more than an overgrown sidekick—which is painfully obvious in “Qpid,” when Q recreates Sherwood Forest. Picard becomes Robin Hood, while Riker is relegated to Little John.
Perhaps this argument can be sewn up once and for all simply by asking: Is there anything sexier than a hero?
A.C. DeLashmutt’s initial take on this debate can be found here.
Evan Allgood's work has appeared in McSweeney's, The Millions, LA Review of Books, The Toast, and The Billfold. He lives in Brooklyn and contributes regularly to Paste. Follow and maybe later unfollow him on Twitter @evoooooooooooo.
A.C. DeLashmutt is a Virginian living in New York. Her writing has appeared in McSweeney's, The Washington Post, theNewerYork, Flash magazine, and elsewhere. She also writes plays. Follow her on Twitter @acdelashmutt.