From gimmick to gifted: Kate Mulgrew, Seven of Nine and padded bras

Sometimes it’s hard for me to explain exactly why I love something. For example, I can tell you that I like guitars and women who can sing, but that doesn’t really explain why I love Heart. Or I can tell you that I like cheese and beans and guacamole, but that doesn’t fully capture my love of Mexican food.

Other times, though, it’s easy. I can tell you exactly why I love Star Trek: Voyager, and I can do it with one word: Janeway.

It just doesn’t get better than Kate Mulgrew in uniform, running a tight ship, drinking coffee, chatting with Leonardo da Vinci on the holodeck or helping Seven of Nine (make that Annika) embrace her humanity. That last thing was especially fascinating, and has inspired reams of fan fic (I recommend G.L. Dartt’s stories if you haven’t read them).

But in a recent interview with the Trekdom bloggers, Star Trek: Voyager doctor Robert Picardo reveals that the Captain/Borg interactions weren’t always so warm. Mulgrew wasn’t very keen on Seven at first:

Trekdom: [Mulgrew] was very vocal about her disappointment and frustration with the decision to replace Kes [with Seven of Nine], because, on some level, she thought it was a “tits and ass gimmick” in putting a cat suit on a supposedly progressive show with a strong female character.

Picardo: I agree with that. I had the same initial reaction that Kate did. We went on the air as a feminist statement, with a female captain judged on her own merits, which has nothing to do with her sex. She gets the job because she is the best for the job. Then suddenly, to have a new character that, let’s face it, especially in that silver outfit, looked like a Vegas showgirl without the headdress. So, I certainly understand Kate’s initial concerns, but all of us became impressed with Jeri’s performance.

Picardo also addresses the rumor that Mulgrew once "stormed into one of the producer’s offices, dropped a padded bra on the desk, and announced in a captain-like fashion, ‘No! I’m not wearing this!’"

Picardo: It sounds like something Kate would say. I certainly can’t corroborate the story. Kate is just wonderfully outspoken. She is a natural leader. Thank God she came along … she just stepped in, took the reins, and took over. Thank God for her! We all owe [the] fact that we spent seven years on the air to that kind of … aplomb!

Indeed. It always seemed clear that Mulgrew was a lot like Janeway — or maybe that was just more fantasizing on my part. Either way, it’s nice to have confirmation.

Visit Trekdom for the full interview. I’m off to read some fan fic while listening to Heart and eating tacos.

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