The following article may influence you in ways of which you are not consciously aware. Its aim is to hijack your judgment and change your beliefs.
But it’s all for a good cause.
To convince you that Firefly was one of the best series ever created.
It’s no secret that Western is kind of a moribund genre. Any attempt to revive its corpse using weird science, aliens or magic ends up feeling like… a hodgepodge. And usually a bad one.
The Western is dead and for the same reason, Space Opera is struggling. However, although it might be hard to get a mass audience for Space Westerns, Firefly is the living proof that they can be really good. And not only that. They can also have a strong fanbase.
So why is Firefly so different (and better) than other space Westerns?
For those of you that don’t already know, Joss Whedon’s cult-classic, Firefly, is an immortal piece of pop-culture. But most importantly, it is my favorite show of course. While the story has been told again, and again, Firefly just managed to hit all the right tropes and made it feel right. How? Let’s look a bit more into that.
The depiction of the future actually feels realistic
The series takes place in the year 2517. Basically, there is the use of the classic trope “Earth-that-was”, where our planet has been lost and forgotten. Humans settle on new planets in an extrasolar system or throughout the Galaxy.
This is not something that Firefly brought first to the table. Star Trek had already used that trope (and triumphed) many years before. But if I were to bet on how the future would look like, I would say Firefly.
The series does not show common people using laser guns and the closest thing to “alien life” is the Reavers who are rarely shown. Although laser guns exist, it is a privilege of the few lucky ones living in the Alliance-controlled planets. The rest 99% of the population, living in the Outrim Planets, doesn’t have access to so advanced technology. And it is realistic, as not all of us own a personal robot which prepares our morning coffee. However, such robots do exist.
In general, it is a very realistic approach to how the issue of overpopulation would be dealt with. The people have colonized different planets and as a result, technology is different on each one of them. The same thing as you own a Ford and that rich uncle of yours who moved to LA owns a Ferrari.
The characters are likable
The protagonist is Malcolm Reynolds, the captain of the ship Serenity. He is more than willing to “shoot first”, he is not above petty theft, smuggling and lacks any religious beliefs. The character is basically destined to be a bitter and damaged man. If Nathan Fillion hadn’t played this role, the character would just be a despised anti-hero. But Nathan Fillion gave this man a heart and an unforgettable level of badassery. And you can’t help but love him.
His second in command is Zoe. Zoe is basically as badass as Malcolm. Their sarcasm serves for really engaging dialogue and funny moments. She’s also the wife of Wash, the pilot of the ship and the comic relief the show needs. The fact that she is not the love interest of Malcolm and that he jokingly criticizes the relationship between the two crew members makes the cast interestingly differ than the classic squad structure. I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of the classic boy-meets-girl trope. It has been incorporated in any genre know by mankind. And it just cannot stop feeling cheesy.
And you know where the romance is not cheesy and doesn’t make you cringe in unexpected times? Make a wild guess.
The love interest of the protagonist is Inara. Inara is a companion. That literally means…a sex worker. Do I have your attention now? Not only that. She is also the respected member of the team and confers social acceptance to the crew of Serenity. This is how the future works. And since she and Malcolm cannot act on their feelings due to professionalism… the romantic tension and jealousy are higher than ever.
Last but not least, we have River and Simon. Simon is the healer of the team and River is his little sister. The experiments performed on her at the Alliance’s secret facilities seem to have made her a psychic and Simon has made a vow with himself to care and protect his sibling as long as possible. The reason for her weird abilities in hand-to-hand combat after those experiments remain a mystery for the viewer throughout the series. And let’s face it. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?
So why was Firefly canceled after all?
According to Gail Berman, former president of entertainment at Fox Broadcasting Company, “It was a numbers things. It was a wonderful show and I loved it and I loved working with him (Joss Whedon) on it but that was a big show, a very expensive show and it wasn’t delivering the numbers”.
So why a show that was loved both by critics and a respectable amount of people didn’t make it? Why Gail Berman? WHY?
It is just a fact that many things went wrong. The show was scheduled for Friday nights. At over 30 television series, Fox has canceled more Friday night programs than any other network.
Not only that but also the episodes of the show were aired out of order! You don’t need to be a TV executive genius to understand that if the pilot doesn’t air until the end of the show, the viewers are gonna have trouble understanding basic elements of the story!
Also, it is really probable that the show’s promotion failed totally to portray its actual spirit. As producer Chris Buchanan said on the DVD commentary, the campaign “suggested [Firefly] was a wacky genre comedy,” when it wasn’t. Although the show has some funny dialogues, it remains a drama. And anyone who expected to watch something different was disappointed.
Last but not least, Fox didn’t give this show a second chance. And this is why I think my ex is secretly running Fox. Only one season was filmed and aired. And that prevented the mass audience reach, which usually happens during the second and following seasons.
In any case, no one can alter the fact that one of the most promising series got canceled. I am not the first person who will tell you probably but you have to watch this show. Whether you’re a sci-fi nerd or not, this show is appropriate. The characters are relatable, the storyline is interesting and (I forgot to mention that) the soundtrack is also awesome.
“Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care, I’m still free
You can’t take the sky from me”
Written by G.P. Eliot