Here's the short-ish version: I'm a diehard fan of The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and the first ten movies (The Motion Picture through Nemesis). After several years of agonizing over the damage they did to the franchise, I can enjoy 2009's annoyingly titled Star Trek and its sequel Into Darkness as poorly written but well-executed sci-fi popcorn flicks that coincidentally borrow some ideas from The Original Series. By association, I can't accept Beyond as canon, but it's the honorary eleventh Star Trek film of which I'm a diehard fan.
I gave Discovery a generous nine episodes before my outrage and disgust got the better of me. The show was visually, tonally, and narratively incompatible with what I knew as Star Trek; and the gore, infighting, mistrust, incompetence, contrivances, and pessimism in those episodes made the show unpalatable to begin with. Moreover, I felt it was bad form to reboot the franchise in 2009 by returning to Kirk's era, only to re-reboot the franchise in 2017 by returning to Kirk's era in a different timeline. This franchise was boldly going out of its mind.
To wash the taste out of my mouth, I followed every episode of Discovery with an episode of The Orville—which, despite its imperfections, captures everything I love about Star Trek, from the broad strokes (eg, social commentary disguised as sci-fi) to the little details (eg, long, luxurious establishing shots of ships and planets).
I was wary of Picard, because I wanted the franchise to start looking forward rather than backward for inspiration, and because I fully expected to be outraged and disgusted again. The first episode of left me in tears—tears of joy, because for the first time in over a decade, Star Trek actually felt like Star Trek. Different, yes, but unquestionably welcome.
The rest of the season failed to live up to that standard. Despite how much I liked some of the concepts, and despite one truly superb episode ("Nepenthe"), I had so many problems with the planning, pacing, characterizations, gratuitous violence, and wild fluctuations in storytelling quality. I could suspend my disbelief just barely enough to accept it as canon, but I didn't really want to. I also wish I hadn't watched the Short Trek "Children of Mars," which gave me Discovery flashbacks and diminished the impact of Picard's second episode.
I was disheartened by the teaser trailer for Lower Decks, and I was unimpressed and then traumatized by a preview of the first 90 seconds of the first episode. I'm on board with a series featuring a diverse new crew with no apparent ties to any previous series, set sometime after Nemesis, with a unique slant that adds something new to the franchise (in this case, focusing on people other than the bridge crew)—however, this particular brand of humor is a hard sell for me, and I am not on board with sudden, unexpected gore. That makes three series in a row where my squeamishness, which was previously only relevant for a few specific episodes across the entire franchise, is a deterrent to watching Star Trek at all.
What's worse is that there's no end in sight. After Lower Decks, there's Section 31, Strange New Worlds, Prodigy, another season of Discovery, another season of Picard, and at least one yet-to-be-revealed series that I'm aware of, not to mention an R-rated movie originally slated to be directed by Quentin Tarantino. I'm still recovering from the fun but exhausting 11-year journey to Avengers: Endgame; I don't have it in me right now to invest in what is effectively another Marvel Cinematic Universe, let alone one so violent, disorganized, and averse to continuity despite being hung up on nostalgia!
It's reached the point where I physically can't keep up with my favorite franchise, nor do I want to. That is a no-win scenario. My little ship, the USS Fanboy, is in no shape to keep fighting, yet I can't retreat without feeling guilty. So I'm setting the auto-destruct and leaving the battle on my own terms.
Whatever Star Trek is right now, it is not for me. And as difficult as it is for me to admit this, that's okay. I've spent too much of my adult life arguing about what's authentic Star Trek, forcing myself to watch things I knew I wouldn't enjoy, and suffering at the hands of what is supposedly my favorite fandom. I don't need to do that anymore. In fact, I never needed to do that.
There are countless books and comics I haven't read, several games I haven't played, and a few fan-made productions I've been meaning to watch. Even if I ignore everything created from 2009 onward, there is no shortage of new Star Trek for me to experience. I don't have to rely on modern cinematic television, which I often don't enjoy anyhow, to get my fix.
They say all good things come to an end. But perhaps they don't have to. Perhaps what brings you joy is more important than what is canon. Perhaps your vision of a franchise—a vision you believe is in line with that of the person who created it—matters more than the vision of whoever happens to be calling the shots right now. Perhaps, in a universe where absolutely anything can happen, there's still a chance for the undesirable elements to redeem themselves.
I crave optimistic, collaborative, and philosophical stories that are reasonably believable and don't make me want to throw up. I don't mind if stories get dark and serious, as long as those elements serve a greater purpose than just making me depressed. I value the kind of narrative continuity that makes it easy to forgive or explain away the little mistakes and oversights that inevitably occur over the course of several decades. I like cool starships, futuristic gadgets, creative alien civilizations, and relatable characters.
For a good long while, Star Trek was exactly my kind of fiction. Now it isn't. It hasn't been for more than a decade, and I have no reason to believe it ever will be again. That means it's time to move on.
Live fast and prosper, Star Trek.