Hot TV Robots: Star Trek’s Data
Exploring the humanoid's sexual side.
In our first installment—inspired by your author’s lack of enthusiasm for HBO’s Westworld—we paid a visit to the innocent, and yet not, Android of Dark Matter.
Next up, we look at another popular artificial person on television—a certain member of the Federation of Planets, an officer in Starfleet Command: Lieutenant Commander Data of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“I am programmed in multiple techniques. A broad variety of pleasuring.”
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, no list of android, or android sex, on TV would be complete without Data.
Created by the eccentric Doctor Noonien Soong, Data—like the Android from Dark Matter—is also very Pinocchio: all he wants is to be more human. But, as with the Android from Dark Matter, it’s where artificial intelligence and humanity meet, or don’t, that makes him fascinating.
Expertly played by Brent Spiner for seven seasons, and in several movies, Data can be innocent, playful, humorous, and, yes, even sexual.
While not a great episode by anyone’s standard, “The Naked Now” from the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation has a fan favorite scene where, under the influence of an alien substance that gives them the equivalent of a “snoot full,” he and Lieutenant Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) have a moment of human/android intimacy.
Leading up to it is the following exchange, indelibly etched into the minds of Star Trek fans worldwide:
Lt. Tasha Yar: What I want now is gentleness. And joy… and love. From you, Data; you are fully functional, aren't you?
Lt. Cmdr. Data: Of course, but…
Lt. Tasha Yar: How fully?
Lt. Cmdr. Data: In every way, of course. I am programmed in multiple techniques. A broad variety of pleasuring.
Lt. Tasha Yar: Oh! You jewel, that's exactly what I hoped!
But beyond the giggles and the smirks, there’s a tenderness to this scene that emerges many episodes later. In “The Measure Of A Man”—after Tasha Yars’ death and when Data is on trial to prove that he is, or isn’t a sentient life form—this scene is called back in a surprisingly poignant gesture.
It’s these careful and finely crafted moments with Data that put him on this list. Everyone involved with Star Trek: The Next Generation truly put some care into Data, playing with the idea of not just a machine that wants to be human, but a new and unique entity that isn’t quite one and isn’t quite the other.
A lovely example of is in “The Offspring,” when Data reproduces, creating a daughter named Lal (played by Hallie Todd).
With Lal, we see Data as a father, a creator, and as anything but a human being. The episode haunts with the poignancy that his daughter has what he does not: human emotions. When she dies at the end we all feel what Data can’t—a perfect examination of him being human-like but not human.
In the end
It wouldn’t amaze me at all to find that those interested in the possible evolution of artificial intelligence, especially as it relates to humanity, study Star Trek—Data in particular. And, if they aren’t, then they definitely need to.
Do you have any favorite sexy androids on the small screen? Share them in the comments below.
In the meantime stay tuned for Part 3: a look at that certain “alcoholic, whore-mongering, chain-smoking gambler” robot we all know and love.
Image source: Lea Where's
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