‘The Orville’: Seth MacFarlane Struggled to Figure out What the Characters Would Wear

The Orville Season 3 is now streaming on Hulu. Creator Seth MacFarlane looked back on the creation of the show back on Fox in 2017, specifically the uniforms he’d have the characters wear. There’s a reason MacFarlane didn’t want to wear tight spandex uniforms like his favorite Star Trek shows.

'The Orville': Seth MacFarlane sits in the captain's chair wearing specifically designed activewear
Seth MacFarlane | Ali Goldstein/Hulu

MacFarlane was a guest on Rob Lowe’s Literally podcast on June 1. When discussing The Orville: New Horizons, Lowe took MacFarlane back to the beginning of the creation of the sci-fi show. New episodes of The Orville: New Horizons premiere Thursdays on Hulu.

Seth MacFarlane had to dress to direct and star in ‘The Orville’ 

Not only did MacFarlane create The Orville, but he plays Captain Mercer and directs many of the episodes, too. The Orville uniforms had to be functional both for a spaceship and a working director. 

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“Velour and spandex just never entered the equation,” MacFarlane said on Literally. “Particularly if I’m directing as well as performing, it was bad enough on Ted I’m walking around in like a borg all day long with wires and electronics attached to my clothes so they could record the movement data for the bear. I drew the line at tight spacesuits. I’m going to be in it all day. Let’s make it comfortable.”

The reason sci-fi went spandex 

Even though he vetoed the decision for The Orville, MacFarlane understood why shows like Star Trek and Lost in Space ended up with campy spandex wardrobes.

“There is a reason,” MacFarlane said. “Well, there’s a reason that it all looks the way it does in Hollywood. There are things you can predict and have people take seriously in the science-fiction genre, like technology, like spaceship design, like alien cultures. There are things you can create a narrative around, something that doesn’t’ exist and you can hypothesize that this is how it could be and it’s believable. For some reason, clothing design and music are damn near impossible.”

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MacFarlane likened sci-fi wardrobe to music. Music in sci-fi shows remained timeless, and that was the attempt with clothes too. 

“That’s why if you watch a lot of the old Star Trek, a lot of the music they listen to is Mozart, it’s jazz,” MacFarlane said. “It’s stuff they figure is going to be timeless. When you listen to ‘future music’ it always sounds absurd. It’s ridiculous. Strangely, it’s so much harder to predict to a culture artistically than it is to predict what’s going to happen to a culture technologically. I don’t know why that is. That’s a question for a philosopher or somebody smarter than me.”

That made ‘The Orville’ civilians challenging too 

Bringing it back to wardrobe, The Orville doesn’t spend all its time in space. Mercer and the crew often visit planets with human life on them. They had to imagine wardrobe for them, too.

“The same thing goes for casual wear,” MacFarlane said. “A future military uniform is a pretty easy thing to guess at but what are everyday people going to be wearing in the future? That is the biggest challenge, certainly when we were doing The Orville. We always wound up with turtlenecks. Turtlenecks with stripes, that ‘s what everyone wears in the future, God help us all.

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