We’re joined by friend of the podcast Tim, who tells us about the IMDB ratings system and how it reflects fandom’s biases. Sounds dry? No, it’s fascinating! At least to us…
[Note: we had some audio challenges with this episode, and Tim is not always as audible as we’d like – apologies.]
- What is the IMDB ratings systems and why should Anika, specifically, care?
- The short answer: sexism
- That is, certain Treks (you can probably guess which ones) are rated higher by women than men (the IMDB system is purely binary), and far more men rate things than women
- “It’s ruined childhoods again, that’s what it is.”
- This week’s digression takes us into Doctor Who fandom
- Discovery versus The Orville (but only in terms of IMDB ratings because Anika and Liz have so far declined to watch The Orville)
- Star Trek: Continues weirdly has the highest rating of any non-TNG Trek
You can find Tim at Twitter or on YouTube, or lurking in the ratings at IMDB…
Liz: Welcome to Antimatter Pod, a Star Trek podcast where we discuss fashion, feminism, subtext and subspace, hosted by Anika and Liz. This week, we’re joined by Tim: to talk about audience ratings and gender discrepancy on IMDb.
Anika: Tim, can you please introduce yourself?
Tim: Hello. I’m a writer, a filmmaker, and a feminist. Well that’s – I’m never sure about labeling myself that, because it seems like it’s sort of virtue signaling. That’s what I try to do with my work, in my writing.
Liz: We’ll allow it.
Anika: Remember, we are a misandrist podcast.
Liz: You’re actually our first gentleman guest.
Tim: Really? Blimey. And it’s seventy-five episodes or something now? I’m honored.
Liz: So tell us about the IMDb rating system. It’s user generated, right?
Tim: Yes. It’s basically – people with accounts put points on anything that they watch or feel like voting on. Sometimes you do get the feeling people haven’t actually watched what they’re voting on, just because … yeah. That’s sort of what I’m here to talk about, I guess, really.
Liz: I definitely recall there were one star ratings for Discovery before it aired.
Tim: Yes, that sounds very plausible. Before we start, I should just say, there are a lot of accounts that don’t identify their gender. And obviously, we don’t necessarily know, that’s one of the number one things we’re going to talk about, whether the accounts that do specify their gender are actually telling the truth. I think it’s probably – the sample is big enough, in most cases, for it to be a reasonable assumption, but it’s a fair spread of opinion.
Liz: But that’s what’s interesting about IMDb. I had a look, and it does break it down by gender – along a binary – and age demographics.
Tim: Yes, there’s something particularly interesting about the age demographics, actually. But I will get to that. Sorry, Anika, you wanted me to want me to say you should vote.
Anika: Yes, I’m the one who suggested that you come on and discuss this with us, because you’re always bringing it to my attention on Twitter. And it’s sort of fascinating to me that you’re paying attention, because it’s just – just like I don’t pay attention to starship design, I also don’t pay attention to ratings. So that’s just like, my thing.
But I’m interested when you bring it up, because it seems like there are these pictures of, you know, people who like or dislike The Last Jedi or Star Trek: Discovery. And even the differences between Discovery season one and Discovery season two, and things like that. There really, is a discrepancy that I anecdotally know, but I’ve never gone to look at and you know, done any of the statistics work.
So I appreciate that you and Liz are both doing the statistics work for me, and then can present it to me, so that I don’t have to pay attention to numbers myself, because my eyes just glass over.
Liz: Mine too, unfortunately.
Anika: So I guess I’m interested in why this is something – like, why is it interesting to you? Why is this something that you find value in?
Tim: I was always looking at – I always looked at ratings. I didn’t start to break it down ‘til a bit more recently. I’m from Doctor Who fandom, originally. There’s a hell of a lot of ratings there. People like to list things. They like to rate things in order, all that sort of stuff. I guess I sort of inherited that.
I remember you talking about the – because you mentioned ratings and things before, in one of the earlier podcasts, and Liz said that nobody ever wants to take any notice of IMDb ratings. And I can appreciate that. I’ve had my interest in them mocked before, on Facebook and so on. Because of the sheer number of people who vote on the site, it’s the third most used [on the internet] internet after Netflix and YouTube.
And you’ve got, for example, I mean, I had a quick look at some of the most popular things. Star Wars, the original film, A New Hope, has 1.2 million votes. That’s a pretty good spread of opinion, I would have thought. Enough to iron out any consistencies and give a good representation of what people actually think of it. Last Jedi has 570,000 votes, so it’s still pretty good. But there is – one of the problems with IMDb is there are six times as many men voting on The Last Jedi as there are women.
Liz: Darren Mooney talked about this on Enterprising Individuals recently, because he has a podcast called The 250, where he and a friend discuss the top 250 films on IMDb. And he was saying, it’s interesting when you look at the bottom 100, the 100 worst films as rated by IMDb users, because no one really thinks that Black Panther is one of the worst movies ever made.
Liz: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s, like, Ghostbusters (2016), and Captain Marvel. And clearly, to an extent, there’s a group of people with an agenda here.
Tim: Absolutely. Yes. I mean, on Last Jedi, the women’s vote was 7.5, and the men voted 6 – I can’t remember what the final vote was, but obviously the fact that there were six times as many men pulls the rating of that film down.
Tim: And I think we should care, possibly – well, not you, Liz – Anika. Possibly we shouldn’t. As the world turns, it’s not very important. But so many people – and people will use guides as a, you know, “I don’t want to watch every Star Wars film, so which are the best ones?” They won’t watch The Last Jedi, the lowest. James Cameron’s Avatar has 1.1 million votes. Titanic has 1 million votes. Those are weighted – well, fewer women hate Titanic. There’s a little block of one-star votes, and that’s mostly men. Presumably because of the romantic thing, I don’t know.
Anika: To me that seems like people who haven’t actually watched it. Like, I’m not saying that you can’t hate Titanic, because you can. But my guess is that they assume it’s a romance and have not seen that, like, seventy-five percent of that film is a disaster movie. It’s an action movie. It’s not a romance. That’s the frame.
Tim: Yes. It could be. It could be. On some of these things – well, a lot of things, I think you find that people are not lukewarm. They don’t (…) a lot of things between about two and five. People either quite like something – six and above – or they really hate it. And people don’t really hate a hell of a lot. (…) Which is what first got me interested in this gender divide, seeing where the significant hate comes in. As a kind of context background, I had a quick look at certain clusters of things.
I looked at the Marvel series on Netflix. And that’s fairly decent. Daredevil is the highest. And, again, many, many more men voting for that. Jessica Jones is next, which is encouraging. And men don’t hate it. So that’s good. Luke Cage is next. Women like Luke than Daredevil. Men like Daredevil better, I think, but women like all the other series slightly better. Including Iron Fist. But Iron Fist is the lowest score, 6.5. And I think since generally people seem to agree that was the worst, or the least good, it’s slightly encouraging in as much it does seem to – it evens out the – well, happily Jessica Jones is not hated because there’s a woman in it, and Iron Fist–
Anika: That ranking is in line with my anecdotal information. Like, Daredevil is everyone’s favorite. Then Jessica Jones, then Luke Cage and then Iron Fist. So that’s true to experience as well as these–
Tim: I preferJessica Jones myself.
Tim: That’s got 7.3.
Anika: Don’t watch Defenders. That’s my opinion.
Liz: I would be very interested to see how WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier stack up against each other when Birdman and the Arm’s season is done. Because it seems like Falcon and the Winter Soldier is getting overall better reviews, even though no one is actually talking about it, and it’s not very interesting.
Tim: Yes, I think its score is slightly better at the moment. It’s early days, yet. And unsurprisingly, women like WandaVision better. I also looked at the CW series, Supergirl, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow. Predictably enough, ten percent of men hate Supergirl.
Liz: This doesn’t shock me.
Tim: No. Five percent of women hate it as well.
Liz: That’s the fandom!
Tim: Supergirl’s overall rating is 6.2, but women voted 6.9. But because there were so many men voting 6.1, it went down to 6.2. Arrow is far away the most popular. It has three times as many people voting for it. And women like that slightly more than men do. But the proportion of hate for Arrow is less than three percent.
Tim: Flash, again, women like it slightly more. A higher proportion of male voters than Supergirl. Legends of Tomorrow, there’s a slightly bigger gap. Women like it more again. Five percent of men hate it. I don’t know much about Legends of Tomorrow, but the poster image on IMDb has two women and one man, and the woman is at the front. So I’m guessing maybe it’s not so popular with men.
Liz: I believe it also has a lot of queer characters.
Anika: Yes, it does. And racial diversity.
Tim: Right. Well, there you go, then.
Anika: Also, all of those like CW shows play around with the queerness and racial makeup of characters that have been around since 1930, or whatever. People get really upset when you change something about a character. Even though nothing can be static for 100 years.
Tim: It’s ruined childhoods again, that’s what it is.
Anika: Ruined childhoods.
Tim: Yeah, so I looked again at kind of things – men vote on almost everything. There are a few things that men vote more on. Surprisingly enough, something like Orange is the New Black, there are still more male voters on that one.
Liz: I did not expect that!
Tim: 115,000 men to 86,000 women voted on that. But Steel Magnolias, I found, which more women voted for? Obviously, most men don’t bother to watch it.
Anika: Yeah, I can’t imagine a man watching Steel Magnolias.
Liz: I don’t think I’ve seen it.
Anika: Well, yeah, it’s a very specific storyline. I have seen it, but I’ve only seen it once. Because it’s not very rewatchable unless you really enjoy the performances – and they are good performances, but it was hard. It was hard to watch, so I’m not gonna watch it again.
Tim: Yes, fair enough. There’s a series called Army Wives, which I haven’t seen, but again, that’s three times as many women who voted for that one.
Anika: I wonder if they are army wives who are watching it? Now I’m curious.
Tim: Well, I don’t know. A slightly surprising thing is that twenty-two percent of men gave that series ten out of ten.
Anika: Maybe they’re army men who are watching Army Wives, and imagining…
Tim: Yeah, 13%of men only give it one, though, as opposed to 2.4% of women hate it that much. But I mean, at least in this case, the women’s voice prevails because the overall rating is based on the women’s votes. Because that’s not the case for many things. Sex and the City, I looked at. (…) prevails because more women voted for it, but it’s dragged down quite a lot by men. The vote is a lot lower than it would be. Thirteen and a half percent of men give it one star as opposed to 1.7% of women giving it one star.
Tim: The L Word, 13k women, and 6k men.
Anika: Wow, more than half. More than double, I mean.
Tim: Ten percent of men hate that. Compared to less than 1.7% of women.
Tim: You wonder how–
Anika: It’s so strange to me!
Tim: I don’t know. It doesn’t surprise me, in some ways. The Good Wife is an interesting one, because it’s an even split.
Tim: Yes, half and half. I think it’s because The Good Wife is – is it a bit more mainstream than some of these other – kind of glossy and high profile, and–
Anika: And it least pretends to be a procedural.
Anika: There are a lot of weird episodes, but it pretends that it’s a regular CBS show.
Liz: I just had a look, and if anyone’s curious, ER averages 7.7, versus Chicago Hope’s 6.8.
Anika: Things that are important to Liz!
Liz: No, no, I was just – I recall from the 90s and my mother’s very, very strong opinions about medical dramas that ER was sort of the mainstream event television that everyone watched, whereas Chicago Hope was perceived as sort of the girly soap opera.
Tim: Fair enough. Sorry, I meant to look it up, and I forgot. Gilmore Girls is the last one I have in this thing. That’s two to one women in terms of voters, and a kind of one point difference. Now an interesting thing about Gilmore Girls is that young women like it, because the votes, there aren’t many – when I say young women, that’s under eighteen. There aren’t many voters, it’s almost too small a sample to make anything out.
But the funny thing is they seem to be very hard to impress. They don’t like much at all, but they really like Gilmore Girls, and young men love Gilmore Girls. Again, it’s not a huge sample. But the young women thing gets really interesting in other places. When you get to Discovery, for example, there’s some funny stuff there.
Anika: Oooh, I’m super interested.
Tim: But we should talk about science fiction soon before people switch off.
Liz: People are very accustomed to our digressions.
Anika: We digress a lot!
Tim: I looked at Game of Thrones. It’s actually – as far as I could tell, it’s the highest voted for thing I could find on IMDb anywhere. 1.7 million votes.
Anika: I believe that. It was a cultural phenomenon.
Tim: It sort of makes sense. Yeah, exactly. One thing I found slightly – the ratings are even between men, male or female, roughly. I think maybe a half point or something. The men, there are four to one voting, which is a slightly smaller proportion than some things.
And interestingly, men hating it is slightly higher, more men hate it, which surprised me. I would have thought, if anything, there would be more resistance from women to Game of Thrones. But maybe they’re objecting to the strong female characters. I don’t know.
Liz: Certainly, my mother was a very big fan of Game of Thrones, whereas my brother was like, “Really, you’re watching … that?”
Tim: I looked at both iterations of Doctor Who. It’s more interesting with the modern one, in some ways. The older one has a lot fewer voters, of course. People who have seen it using IMDb.
There were more women voting for old Doctor Who I thought that would be, because, being in the fandom, sort of back from the ’80s there were hardly any women about. But I guess a lot of the youngsters have gone back now and looked at it because they’ve been inspired by the reboot series.
Anika: I will say, I don’t know a single – you’re the only man I know who has even seen the pre Ninth Doctor series. They’re all women. All of my Doctor Who fans are women – of the old Who.
Liz: I will not go that far, but I watched it a little bit as a kid. But when it returned in 2005, I liked it okay. But then I went back and watched Classic Who and liked that more. And that’s the experience of a lot of my friends. And I contributed to Chicks Unravel Time and I co-edited Companion Piece. And it was so easy to find contributors with a lot to say about classic Doctor Who.
Tim: I think it’s probably a British experience, then. I went to a thing with Katy Manning a year or two ago. Katy Manning was the only – I think, yes, Katy Manning was the only woman in the room. And I was pretty much almost the only straight man in the room. That’s what British Doctor Who fandom was like for a long time. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s just obviously an experience.
Liz: I remember in the ’90s, there was sort of this perception that Doctor Who was for gay men, and straight men were into Star Trek because Captain Kirk is so manly.
Anika: None of that makes sense to me! I’m sure it was true to your life. But as I said, wow.
Liz: Probably a British and Commonwealth thing, I think.
Tim: Modern Doctor Who, in proportion is much better than most series. Now, it’s still two to one male to female voters, but that’s actually pretty good for IMDb. That’s quite a lot of women. Classic Doctor Who is almost the same, actually, overall. But then as you go up in the age brackets to the old guys, that’s my generation, it is mostly guys voting. But they’re interesting.
What I did was, I compared Capaldi’s last season with Whittaker’s first. So obviously, there was quite a bit of resistance to Capaldi because some people don’t like Moffat’s writing. Think it’s too clever, or he has been accused of misogyny, and that sort of thing. Or, at the very least, sexism.
So anyway, yes, season ten, Capaldi, the season with Bill, it’s got 7.5 average. overall. Each story’s pretty consistent throughout, there’s a couple of things that people don’t like, but – and a 2.3% one star vote. So that’s pretty insignificant, really. And women like it slightly more overall.
We get on to season 11, which the average is six or below for each story. Now, fair enough. A lot of people have issues with the writing in the Whittaker era, and I’m one of them.
Liz: I stopped watching after “Rosa”.
Liz: Like, I love Whittaker as an actress, and I really love the cast, but I just cannot with Chris Chibnall’s writing.
Tim: Yes, fair enough. There are certainly lots of things about the writing in that era. I wish it were better. But the one-star votes – that means people really hate it, because they can’t use zero – it’s a fifteen to 20% average over the stories. So that’s a big block of hating votes right at the bottom.
Tim: And that’s, you know, fair enough. I tend to be a bit generous in my ratings. I don’t think I’ve ever given anything lower than a five. But I can understand people giving two, threes and fours and stuff. But there’s hardly any two, three, fours, it just loads and loads of ones. But young men really like the Whittaker stuff.
Liz: That’s interesting.
Tim: Yeah, I mean, I’m aware of certain people who I talk to on Twitter who really love it, anyway, but they’re not – I don’t think any of them are young men, actually. But, yes, but apparently that generation seems to really like what they’re doing at the moment. Young men seem to like quite a lot of things that older men don’t. Right.
Anika: Yeah. Right. I don’t think that’s super surprising, because I can see that generational difference a lot. And with older women, too.
Tim: Yes. Anyway, “Rosa” and “Kablam”. Young women really loved that.
Tim: Love those two. But, other than that, young men scored higher than almost any other group of the Whittaker series, and young women scored lower than almost any other group all the time. The young women’s votes were really strange. I thought I just expected them to really like it. Or just, you know, just the simple fact of the Doctor being a woman.
Liz: Yeah, like that – I was going to skip the Chibnall era until he cast Whittaker, and then I gave it a chance. And I wonder if there is a greater willingness to overlook just the presence of a female doctor and be critical regardless? Or if it’s just that sometimes no one hates women like other women.
Tim: Yes, I suppose it could be disappointment as much as anything. They really fiercely wish it was better.
Tim: I don’t know.
Anika: I imagine that.
Tim: Anyway, I tried looking at – let’s talk about Star Trek for a bit. Disco versus Orville. There’s not a huge difference between – the ratings are not that different. Disco’s is lower, which surprises me. I mean, it’s more uneven. And The Orville, I think, at the same time, The Orville’s level is (…) as far as I can tell. But 100,000 people voted for Disco, and eight times as many men.
Liz: This makes sense.
Anika: Right. This? This is where the problem comes in.
Liz: I took a look–
Tim: Oh you did?
Liz: I took a look the other day, and I noticed that Star Trek: Continues, the fan series, actually has a higher average than Discovery. And I’m like, this is so embarrassing.
Tim: Yes. Yeah. If it was down to women it would be rated 7.8, which is still lower than The Orville from both sexes. But women – yeah, the men voted 7.1. So the men’s vote, men’s voice there is prevailing. This is why I think – I support women voted just to get the – I went to the first season of Discovery. “The Vulcan Hello”, the vote is evenly split. They’re not kind of (…) But we’ve got this really weird tiny sample of young women. Three of them, who all gave it one.
Liz: Ladies, if you’re out there, get in touch. Tell us why.
Anika: That’s super interesting.
Tim: It’s slightly more interesting, in a way, and a bit suspicious, because they give the same vote to every single episode of the first season of Discovery.
Anika: Yeah, see…
Liz: You’d think they would have stopped watching?
Anika: Exactly. That sounds like manipulation. Because–
Tim: It sounds like – yeah, it sounds like those accounts are probably not young women.
Tim: Yeah. And this started me wondering about the general low score for loads of stuff. I mean, like Luke Cage, for example, young women didn’t like that at all. And young women like The Defenders less than everything else.
I just wonder if there’s a certain amount of accounts going around, just trolling. I know that my feature film had, this has very few votes, it has about twelve, I think, because hardly anyone has seen it. But it got two one-star votes quite early on. And one of those then disappeared later on. I think that’s probably because it was probably an account going round voting one star, all sorts of things.
Tim: And that obviously happens. I looked at Ghostbusters, the 2016 Ghostbusters, and Ocean’s Eight, which are obviously beloved franchises hijacked by women. And what you’ve got on there is, there’s actually an announcement from IMDb that says, “We’ve noticed unusual voting activity on these films, so we’ve suspended our usual rating system and adjusted it in a different way.”
And even with their adjustment, there’s just a massive, massive block of hate on the Ghostbusters one, especially, as you would expect. I didn’t write down how much it was. But it’s huge. So they’re still – they’ve still both got very low ratings. Ocean’s Eight, not too bad. But Ghostbusters is pretty bad, even with that adjustment.
But they’ve obviously – I did wonder whether it was worth actually pointing out to – these three young women who apparently hate Discovery so much. I assume there are ways of checking on the account. Just to see, you know, see if it seems likely.
Liz: Can I clarify, it’s not like Amazon or Goodreads, where you can click on a user and see all of their reviews?
Tim: No. I think, to be honest, I think that’s probably a good thing.
Tim: I think it would get very personal. If people have reviewed something, you can click on all their reviews, but just rating it.
Liz: Right, that – yeah.
Tim: The ratings are separate from that, you can’t identify – in some ways, I’d like to be able to see other demographics for the voters. Sometimes it gets quite frustrating to see – to know, you know, about things like Luke Cage,whether there’s other stuff playing into the vote–
Anika: Right, yeah.
Liz: Race, for example. Nationality.
Tim: Exactly. Yeah, exactly, and what happens when, you know, the Latino Supergirl arrives?
Tim: What’s gonna happen there? Anyway, that’s – let me carry on with Disco. “Binary Stars”, the men liked it. 7.4, that was their vote. And more men liked “Context is for Kings” as well. So there’s not a massive amount of hate at this point.
Liz: I recall from Reddit, especially with “Context is for Kings”, there was a general sense on the subreddit of, “Finally a man is in charge!”
Liz: And look how that worked out.
Anika: And they also all, like, basically considered the first few episodes as, like, a prequel? So “Context is for Kings” was the actual real first episode.
Tim: Fair enough. Okay. So it’s pretty consistent seven, mostly. I stopped looking because it was fairly consistent. I’m just a bit surprised that women like the Mudd episode better.
Liz: “Choose Your Pain” or “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”?
Tim: “Choose Your Pain”.
Liz: Yeah, for me, that was actually where the season clicked, and I felt like I finally understood what the show was doing.
Tim: Fair enough. And the ratings go up over the course of the season. Except that men dislike “Will You Take My Hand?”, I couldn’t remember enough about it to figure out why that one suddenly drops.
Anika: Well, I dislike “Will You Take My Hand”, so…
Tim: It may just be that quality thing again, that it does actually work as quality control, and some people just dislike episodes that are not very good.
Liz: Sometimes it happens. I don’t want to suggest that men as an aggregate could be right, or something, but it happens. Not all men, obviously.
Tim: Right. “Forget Me Not”. I don’t remember – fifteen percent of men that’s the Nhan – that’s the Nhan episode, isn’t it? Her departure?
Anika: Another episode I don’t like!
Tim: Right. Well, there you are. You’re in agreement with the men. Fifty percent of them gave it one star.
Anika: What does that mean? I’m in agreement with the men?
Liz: I have a theory, but it’s based in stereotype. In that I’m going to assume that more of male viewers have seen a lot of Star Trek, and thus, like us, went, “Yeah, we’ve seen this episode before.” Whereas to newer viewers, this is their first time with that story. And it’s a legit good story.
Tim: Yeah, well, I quite enjoyed it.
Anika: I can see that.
Tim: I really liked Nhan, so that played into it. But it was – it did feel like another one of those things where a character gets an episode just as they depart, and you kind of wonder why she was there in the first place, really, except to do that episode.
Anika: Yes. Especially since she didn’t end up coming back. I really expected her to come back and make it all make sense.
Tim: Some episodes surprised me – “Scavengers”, for example, twelve percent of men gave that one star. I thought that was quite sort of reasonably action-packed. So I though that was–
Anika: Which one is “Scavengers”?
Liz: Georgiou and Michael go on the run to rescue Book. And they pick up Ryn, your Andorian?
Anika: Wait, is this Ryn? It’s Ryn’s first episode. Okay, yeah. See, I love that.
Liz: It’s a good episode!
Anika: But it’s like Star Wars, The Star Trek Episode. Or Star Trek, The Star Wars Episode, one of those.
Tim: You’ve just reminded me that it’s two women who go off rescuing Book. So maybe that has something to do with that.
Liz: Also, there’s a significant proportion of Trekkies overall who do not like action in their Star Trek. They want people talking around, having a conversation. And minimal–
Anika: But this had both, that’s what made it so good! But it was two women, a black man and a disabled Andorian. So I can see where they wouldn’t be for that.
Tim: In contrast only a quarter as many women hated that. “Sanctuary”, which I – actually I can’t remember what “Sanctuary” is. But twenty percent of men gave that one star. They really didn’t mind that.
Liz: I didn’t like it, but it’s not a one star episode.
Tim: Well, no, that’s the thing is that people – people (…) you know, they dislike something, they don’t (…) really, really dislike it.
Anika: I think I’d be more like you. And then it’s like, if I don’t like it, it’s maybe a three. But, but you know, other than Prometheus, I can’t imagine giving one star to anything.
Liz: You didn’t like Prometheus? I don’t remember any of it…
Anika: It’s the Alien, Aliens prequel where she, like, uses a medical (…) to–
Liz: Okay, yeah, I–
Anika: –have an alien abortion.
Liz: I enjoyed it. But it was not a good movie.
Anika: They dropped a spaceship right on top of Charlize Theron, who was clearly the best character.
Liz: Yeah, no.
Tim: You’d give “Code of Honor” more than one star, would you?
Anika: I mean, I guess no. But, see that’s where it’s – it would take so much effort to go through and rate every single Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. I can’t – like, I would skip “Code of Honor” because, like – maybe I should, because I know my answer for that.
But the ones that I don’t have a clear answer for, it’s like, do I really need to go in and do this one? So I think that if I was in a routine, like, I watched the episode, and then I go and – I would probably give myself forty-eight hours, and then go and rate it. Like, maybe I could get into the swing of things. But going back and doing it seems – it’s sort of like why I haven’t watched Grey’s Anatomy. It’s like, there’s just too much, I can’t handle it.
Tim: Yeah, no, I really get that. I haven’t actually – I haven’t rated everything I’ve watched. I’ve had lapses. And I haven’t rated every episode of Discovery, or anything like that. The last two thirds of season three of Discovery is dragged down by the men’s votes.
Liz: That’s so strange!
Tim: Yeah. And I wasn’t sure why that was. I mean–
Anika: I know a lot of men – obviously, I’m stereotyping, but a lot of men really were upset that grief and a child’s grief at the loss of his mother was the, you know, the big monster behind the Burn, that the secret was emotional. And they don’t like that.
Tim: Right. But it’s a kind of general trend, though. It’s not like one or two episodes. It’s sort of –
Liz: The whole season. Or the whole ending.
Tim: Yeah, yeah.
Liz: I’m going to assume that there’s a considerable cultural overlap between the men on Reddit and the men voting on IMDb, rating things. And I just think, by the second half of season three, a lot of guys were like, “Oh, Michael is still the main character? And now Tilly has authority? And where is my white alpha male captain? Why is Saru in charge? Even Georgiou would be better!” So, yeah.
Tim: Yes, well, that “That Hope Is You” two – the end of the season, you know, men voted 6.2 as opposed to women, who gave it eight.
Liz: Wow, that’s–
Tim: So that’s a big difference. But the women voters are less than one in ten for that episode.
Anika: Right. See, now I want to go vote on those episodes, so that I can contribute to getting it back up?
Tim: Yes. The one episode that men did seem to like a bit more was “There is a Tide”, because that’s kind of a pew pew, taking back the ship. I suspect that probably why they didn’t like it – liked it a bit more. There was – oh, yeah. There was an episode which stuck out a bit, “Such Sweet Sorrow”.
Liz: The season two finale.
Tim: It’s actually the first episode of those – because there are two, aren’t there?
Tim: It’s the first one that they don’t like, the men.
Anika: And then they do like the second?
Tim: Well, the vote is higher for the second.
Anika: Those people are wrong.
Tim: Well, yes. But I looked at it. I thought – I couldn’t remember, so I watched it again to see what it was about. And I thought oh, well Poe saves the galaxy, and there’s a lot of stuff with friendship between Tilly and Poe. On the other hand, women didn’t like that episode much either. But it’s the younger women who don’t like it so much. It’s like the under-30s. Those two groups, under-18s and under-30s, don’t like it. The older women didn’t mind it.
Liz: It can’t all be Cornwell fans.
Tim: Obviously, you two are probably a bit more gutted about Cornwell than I was. I liked her, but I wasn’t–
Anika: Honestly – I mean, yes, but it was the end of that episode, the end of the second episode that really – I get, like, unable-to-speak-rage. When I watched it, I just – the last like five minutes are just so wrong in every way. But, you know, it’s okay, it got fixed because there was a season three and season three was all about Discovery characters. And it worked out. But–
Tim: The last five minutes is basically them covering up Discovery, isn’t it?
Liz: Yeah. And suddenly, it’s a backdoor pilot for Strange New Worlds.
Tim: Explaining why Spock never talks about Michael, that sort of thing.
Anika: Which is something you never needed to explain. Every time it comes up, I have to have this rant.
Tim: Okay, that’s fair enough. Looking at The Orville, which I – I haven’t finished watching season two yet.
Anika: I’ve seen none of “The Orville”. But go ahead and spoil.
Tim: It rates an eight, which is higher than any Star Trek except Next Generation. Voyager and Deep Space 9 get the sort of mid-high sevens. And I don’t understand that. I think The Orville’s trying, and it has some good stuff, and it’s obviously sincere. But it’s not an eight. And it’s not. It’s not better than the best of Discovery. It’s not much better than the worst of Discovery sometimes.
Anika: Again, I’ve seen none of The Orville, so I can’t speak to the show itself. But what I understand from seeing people talk about it online, or speaking with people at conventions, actually, they consider The Orville to be closer to Star Trek: The Next Generation than Star Trek: Discovery. Like, Star Trek: Discovery isn’t Star Trekky enough for them, whereas The Orville is somehow Star Trekky. But some people have said that it actually redoes Next Generation episodes.
Tim: It’s very – it feels very by-the-book a lot of the time. I don’t know, as I say, I think it’s obviously very sincere and it’s trying hard, so I don’t want to hate on it. But sometimes – there was one episode where I was almost doing cliche bingo with the dialogue, because there were so many rote lines, stuff that, you know, you could fit into almost any situation. It was not fresh or interesting writing. But one quarter of all people waiting for it rate it perfect. So they really do love it.
Liz: I wonder, how in the long run, The Orville will stack up against Lower Decks, which is very nakedly a homage to Next Gen-era Star Trek. So far Lower Decks is doing better than Discovery. But it’s not an eight.
Anika: I mean, not to generalize again. But I’m going to generalize. And I’ve heard a lot – you know, the people that don’t like Discovery, because it’s not Star Trekky enough, quote, unquote, and it’s not – and you say, “What is Star Trek?” And they’re like, “Next Generation.” And so The Orville is more like that, because it’s Next Generation.
And so, if The Orville is a rote redo of Next Generation, just with 2015-ish effects and budgets, then, you know, it’s those people who want things to be the same, who don’t want there to be new stories, or new ideas, or anything that takes something like the Federation of Planets and puts it into a microscope, and says, you know, let’s actually dissect this and figure out what it means, which is what Discovery is doing. They just want it to be familiar and and feel good.
Liz: It could also just simply be people who don’t watch television that’s not ’90s-era Trek. And it’s sort of a phenomenon I see on Reddit, I saw it in some of the reviews of Next Gen on IMDb, you know, “This is the only television I watch.” I know, it’s shocking to me. But if that’s the level of television literacy you have, then a modern reproduction of Next Generation really is going to be the only new television you like.
Tim: You know, it’s interesting that it does – it plays with some of the same kind of progressive ideas as Discovery. You have the male married couple on board, and it does try to deal with – the trouble is, it feels a bit, unfortunately, a bit like a sitcom.
The sets – it’s partly the humor, but also the sets are so bare compared to Star Trek sets. They’re kind of under designed. They’ve got loads of space all around the characters, loads of blank walls and things, and it kind of looks – it makes the whole thing look – not exactly cheap, but somehow less serious.
So when they try to deal with something semi-serious, like a porn addiction in one episode, it kind of – the whole design of the program works against it being you know, effectively serious.
Liz: That’s so interesting. I’ve never really thought about set design in that way.
Tim: I don’t know. I get that feeling when I’m watching it, that it kind of looks like a sitcom.
Liz: As if they’ve got the amount of furniture you need to fit into a 4:3 frame, but it’s the 2020s and they’re filming in widescreen.
Tim: Yeah, yes, maybe. The surprising thing to me about this was that women like it as much as men. I find that very odd, because they don’t do that badly by their women characters, but they don’t do well by them, really.
Liz: I know people who watch it, and they’re like, it’s a perfectly enjoyable way to spend an evening. It’s mostly inoffensive. It’s comfort TV.
Tim: Yes. That could be. Yeah. Yeah, well, that’s about as far as I got, really.
Liz: Did you look at Picard at all?
Tim: I didn’t look at Picard, actually, no.
Liz: I did! I don’t remember numbers. But it averages a seven-point-something, higher than Discovery, lower than Next Gen. But it’s really notable that the only six-point-something, like, 6.9, comes with the young female demographic, the teenagers. And I haven’t gone through episode by episode, but I’m wondering if the drop off comes when Soji is sort of sidelined as protagonist.
Tim: Right. Okay, so it starts off better, and then it–
Liz: I haven’t looked. But that’s sort of how the season went.
Anika: This season definitely forgot that Soji was important. And she’s also saddled with the relationship that – like, Tumblr feminists would hate the relationship between Narek and Soji. Even though the series also paints it in a bad light, it acknowledges that it’s a messed up relationship where he was lying to her all the time.
I definitely have seen plenty – like, I’m in the Reylo fandom, so I know that there are many, many people out there who are that young women age range, who – they’re very black and white thinkers about this kind of thing, where it’s like, “If you’re in a toxic relationship, I have to be completely against everything that happens, because that’s how I prove that I’m healthy.”
Tim: Yeah, that might account, I suppose, generally – you know, allowing for the fact that the Discovery thing is probably some kind of, yeah, some kind of conspiracy, it might account for the generally low votes across IMDb that young women give all sorts of things, that maybe they find something, as you said, they find this one thing that they object to, it kind of means that they hate it. Because the votes are low all over the place, there are very few things that they really like.
Liz: That’s so interesting.
Tim: Yeah, I looked at the top 250 films, which I looked at before, and the top 250 TV shows as well. The top 250 films, it’s – I mean, they’re good films, but it’s very much a boys list, a lot of it. Without Japanese animation, you’d be hard put to find many troubles with female leads and stuff.
Liz: I remember hearing Darren talking on Enterprising Individuals about how, you know, the top two are The Shawshank Redemption and The Godfather. And I love The Godfather. It is an amazing movie. But it’s – yeah, such a masculine cliche to choose The Godfather.
Anika: I remember – and this was like ages ago, but AFI, the American Film Institute, came out with their top 100 films of, I think, the first 100 years. So this would be 20 years ago. But my brother and I decided that we were going to watch all of them and see what we thought.
And what I thought was, wow, there’s no women in these. Like, there are just so many where if there were maybe like, a wife at home was the best you got. And so it – and part of it is just that, again, if you’re looking at films from like 1900 to 2000, there were more men in general, like there are more films made by men and for men and about men.
But it’s also that something like The Godfather or Shawshank Redemption or Master and Commander is gonna be considered like, more seminal and important and, like, how it has this, you know, grounded thing in to a quote unquote chick flick, that – even Thelma and Louise, which I would say is very, sort of has a reputation for being meaningful and important, it still would be considered a chick flick compared to The Godfather or Shawshank Redemption.
Liz: Yeah, yeah.
Tim: This is what I was thinking in terms of, say, if you put something like Breaking Bad up against Army Wives. But a man descending into cool criminal activity is considered far more important and meaningful than whatever women might be doing when their men are away being soldiers.
Liz: Yes, yes.
Liz: I have pulled up Star Trek: Continues. It averages, as I said, eight out of 10 out of only 2565 voters – raters. How would you – what’s what’s the word you’d use, Tim?
Tim: Voters, I suppose. Yeah, voters is what I’ve got on my document. Yeah. I mean, you have to – I mean, massive, massive respect to the sheer amount of work they put into duplicate that ’60s look.
Liz: Oh, yeah.
Tim: That deserves three or four stars by itself, no matter what else there is. But I haven’t – I must admit, I haven’t watched many of them. I’ve watched the first three and I quite liked them. But the writing and the acting is – it’s okay. It’s not – it doesn’t excite me.
Anika: I haven’t seen any of it because I can’t stand Vic.
Anika: I don’t want to see him because he’s a jerk.
Liz: I find amateur theatre and amateur acting deeply, deeply embarrassing. So I actually can’t get into more information on my phone. But the season finale, “To Boldly Go, Part 2”, got 9.5.
Anika: 9.5? But, I mean, that must be one of the things where people who really care about that show are going to go in and rate it.
Liz: Yeah. Like the user reviews are things like, “Cancel the reboot, things are fine the way they were. What an excellent job that Mr. Mignona and his crew have done.” It’s like fan fiction. If you are sitting down to watch a fan series, you’re already invested.
Anika: Right, right. Yes.
Tim: Yes. It’s obviously a very niche thing. People who love it really love it.
Anika: But I think I should go and rate my favorite episodes of Discovery, like “Point of Light”, which is everyone’s least favorite episode, but is one of my favorites and definitely my favorite of season two.
Liz: That’s the Klingon baby?
Anika: Secret Klingon baby.
Liz: [sings to the tune of “Secret Tunnel” from Avatar: The Last Airbender] Secret babyyyyy.
Anika: There are certain things that I care about. Obviously, I’m in the middle of my biannual or semiannual – whatever – ER rewatch, as I’m always constantly watching ER all the time. And I don’t think it’s necessary for me to go rate ER, because as much as I love it, plenty of people love it. And so it’s fine. But something that is a small show that – you know, I have Life, I also do like a semiannual rewatch of the Life TV series.
Tim: Damian Lewis?
Anika: Yes, Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi. And I’m guessing that that doesn’t have a huge fan base and probably very few women have rated, it’s just because it’s a cop show, and definitely the men are the focus. Even though Sarah Shahi is an equal partner. But it’s Damian Lewis’s story.
Tim: I don’t want to encourage any dishonesty here. I don’t want anyone to go – I wouldn’t want anyone listening to this go and vote for something just because it’s been voted down.
Anika: No, but I think if you like something enough to vote for it, that’s what I’m getting out of this. If you like something enough, like, maybe Attack of the Clones. I’m gonna guess that Attack of the Clones has a very low rating. And I’m gonna go make it happier.
Liz: It’s like when the Sad Puppies tried to game the Hugo Awards. And that was the year I went, ah, I could participate in the Hugo Awards, and that was when I became a voter. I can become a voter here too. Voting is great.
Tim: One film – I don’t know if either of you have seen The Glorias, about Gloria Steinem?
Anika: Not yet. It’s on my list.
Liz: Oh, I know the one you mean!
Tim: I really, really liked it. And it’s got a very, very low rating. 24% of people gave it one star.
Liz: I saw it got some very lukewarm reviews. But not – like two, three stars. Not one star.
Tim: It’s slightly avant garde in its storytelling, which might put some people off.
Liz: It has the actress who played Kestra Troi Riker as young Gloria Steinem.
Tim: Oh, yes, yes, indeed. Yes. She’s very good. There are four Glorias, and they’re all very good. But yeah, only 5% of women gave that one star but 24% overall, I think. So that’s a lot of men for some reason not liking this film about a feminist icon.
Liz: Weird. That’s so weird. Thank you so much for coming in and explaining all this. I have a new hobby.
Tim: All right. Well, yes, I hope it’s been interesting for people. One of the reasons I didn’t look at Picard, in fact, was I spent so much time trawling through Disco, I thought, I don’t want to look at more numbers. And I gave up.
Liz: The interesting thing was that Lower Decks rated higher than Picard, and Picard rated higher than Discovery, which – I think I think the Picard should be the lowest. But that’s just me. I’m just one-soon-to-be voter.
Tim: Yes, fair enough.
Anika: Tim, do you want to say where we can find you if we’re interested in following up?
Tim: Well, I was afraid you were going to ask me that. I’m on Twitter, @tjpieraccini. I don’t tweet very interestingly. I think I like to think I retweet reasonably interestingly, but I don’t do much original stuff. That’s about it. I have a Tumblr account, but that’s kind of incognito.
Anika: As it should be
Tim: And I’m on YouTube, I have a YouTube channel, which has got some Doctor Who and Star Trek edits, and a few things like that.
Liz: We’ll throw some links around.
Anika: All right. Thank you.
Thank you for listening to Antimatter Pod. You can find our show notes at antimatterpod.tumblr.com, including links to our social media and credits for our theme music. You can also follow us on Twitter at @antimatterpad – and I say that every time at @antimatter– I can’t. At @antimatterpod, and on Facebook, also at Antimatter Pod.
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And join us in two weeks, when we’ll be discussing the news out of First Contact Day, April 5, and the whole fandom anniversary phenomenon, all these strange made-up holidays that we now celebrate in all of our fandoms.
Liz: It’s a faaaaaaaaake!
Anika: May the Fourth be with you.