You Can't Take the Sky from Me: Why I Love 'Firefly'
I thought I'd start off this segment talking about my new favorite show. I was urged to check this one out because the hosts of Cinema Therapy, another favorite of mine, had done an excellent analysis of its main characters' team dynamic. Additionally, since it was created by Joss Whedon, who had written and directed the first two Avengers films (which I enjoyed), as well as co-written Toy Story (1995) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012), I decided "What the hey", and gave it a watch. Little did I know that I would soon be delighted, excited, and moved by this more than any other show I'd seen.
For those unfamiliar, Firefly is set five hundred years in the future, wherein a nefarious group known as The Alliance (think The Empire from Star Wars) has taken over the galaxy, and globalized the majority of Earth, save for America and China. Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), who once fought with The Brown Coats against The Alliance, now flies around on the ship Serenity with his crew. There's Jayne (Adam Baldwin), the arms specialist, Kaylee (Jewel Staite), the mechanic, Zoe (Gina Torres), Mal's second-in-command, Book (Ron Glass), a priest, Inara (Morena Baccarin), a courtesan, and Wash (Alan Tudyk), the pilot. They take any job they can, legal or illegal. Their only concerns are to put gas in the tank, food on the table, and money in their wallets. When they bring on a new medic named Simon Tam (Sean Maher), their new addition comes with a catch: his sister River (Summer Glau), who's wanted by The Alliance. Thus, Malcolm (or 'Mal' as he's referred to) and his team find themselves up a creek without a paddle.
Right off the bat, the reasons I love this show the most, and what most got me interested in seeing it in the first place, is the eclectic band of characters. I particularly enjoy and relate to Mal, the classic 'rogue with a heart of gold' type who struggles to be vulnerable. Having lost the war, almost all the people he fought with, and his faith, he struggles to let his guard down and allow his crew to really know him. While I've not experienced the same things as Mal, I certainly know how the things you go through can make it difficult to open up. This quality also lends itself to Mal's snarky sense of humor, a common trademark of Whedon's work. Here, it's a hilarious mask for the character.
I also relate to River quite a bit, despite, again, not having experienced the same things as her (this is a science fiction world, after all). Her struggles with trauma and mental illness, both of which overwhelm her every waking moment, feel palpably real. Having dealt with severe depression in the past. Summer Glass's performance shines as an portrayal of how debilitating mental illness can be. Her journey is made evermore intriguing due to its mystery. You're just itching to know what happened to River before she met Mal and his crew, an enigma that is given to you in bits and pieces, eventually coming to fruition in the feature film Serenity (2005), which concluded this saga after Fox cancelled the series. I won't spoil anything, but it's a shocker.
Back to that eclectic quality I mentioned. Everyone in this show is radically different in regards to their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), their sexualities, their worldviews. No one thinks the same. This is beautiful to me because A) it ties into Mal's stance against The Alliance, who wants to control everyone and have them be the same, and B) as an autistic person and member of the LGBTQ+ community, I definitely understand what it's like to be different. I also know how liberating it feels to have a circle of friends and family who accept you as you are.
In addition, the show is a thrilling combination of a sci-fi adventure and a western. From the often-desert-like locales (the program was primarily shot in Southern California) to the saloons, you can feel Joss Whedon's love for the latter genre. You can also see how those with very little have been affected by The Alliance's takeover. On top of that, the high-tech and futuristic VFX for outer space, the Serenity, or the look of some of the cities on Earth, do brilliantly in not only creating a sleek sci-fi world, but in demonstrating the stark class divide.
If you've never watched Firefly before, and you love sci-fi or westerns, definitely put this on your watchlist immediately. The show is currently available to stream on Hulu, or you can buy it on Blu-Ray from Amazon.