With Marina Sirtis, there is not a lot of choice of article image. Oh, seven seasons’ worth, on the one hand, but on the other, there’s not the exciting “oh, but I really think of them from this other thing.” Not that there’s anything wrong with thinking of her as Deanna Troi. After all, she did play the role on TV for seven years, plus the movies, plus assorted other bits of the franchise. But her pre-Trek career was so sketchy she famously was packing her bags to return to the UK when she got the phone call telling her she’d gotten the part. And after that, well, she doesn’t exactly have Patrick Stewart’s career.
When I was in high school, a friend and I did a Star Trek mystery party. When describing what the characters should wear, the kit told us that Troi should wear decollétage. Neither of us knew this word, which was old-fashioned even in 1993. Sirtis herself is quite clear on the subject, declaring that her character was not allowed to have both brains and cleavage and was really only allowed to be intelligent once she was allowed to start covering up. It’s worth noting that she is the only woman of the main three crew members in the first season to wear the minidress uniform.
As it happens, Troi is a very good idea for a character, and I can understand the concept of why she wouldn’t wear a uniform all the time. (Leaving aside that you’d hope people didn’t have to wear their uniforms while off duty, which they all seem to most of the time.) The idea for Troi was that the twenty-fourth century would consider mental health care just as valuable as physical health care, which is a good idea. And you could understand why you wouldn’t necessarily want your therapist to be in uniform, why you might want them to be a little more informal.
The problem is that no one seemed to know how to write a good therapist. You’d think at least someone on the writing staff would have had some experience on the subject. Sure, she’s wearing softer clothing, but it is of course also sexualized clothing, which can make a patient uncomfortable. Further, we were much more likely to see her on the bridge not being able to use her empathy on the Alien Of The Week, which was not the most helpful thing in the world. What was much more helpful was when she was letting Picard talk out his problems—or the few episodes where we actually saw her doing her job.
She has complained that we never really got to know Deanna Troi beyond a very surface level, and she’s not wrong. When you think about Troi, you probably think about chocolate. Maybe her relationship with Riker or Worf, ill-advised as that latter was for the scriptwriters. Her relationship with Lwaxana Troi—one which bloomed into a warm real-life relationship with Majel Barret. Apparently it took four seasons for her actual mother to realize that Sirtis wasn’t, I guess, just making the job up—when she saw a trading card with her daughter’s picture on it.