Why I Don’t Like Firefly

The short lived Joss Whedon series Firefly gives many nerds geekgasims of incredible magnitude. It’s hard to believe that a show that lasted one season can have its own rabid fan base that’s as dedicated as they are. I’ve always thought that I would like the series, being a sci-fi loving geek and all. I didn’t get a chance to really sit down and watch it when it was first on, but thanks to Netflix’s instant queue and a dismal social life I’ve finally seen the whole series. I’m left wondering what’s the big deal.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t absolutely hate the show. It had it’s moments (some were awesome). I just don’t get why people love it so much. I decided to create a list of things that bugged me about Firefly to both entertain and anger, though I’m assuming I’ll get more anger than entertaining.

1. The re-use of Starship Troopers suits:

starship_troopers_large_05

Photo from a much superior sci-fi property.

I realize that the series had a limited budget, but I’m a big Starship Troopers fan, so it’s damned distracting any time I see those re-used costumes. To make things even worse is when I’m at a convention I can’t tell what they are supposed to be. The lame-o brown coats think that they’re call backs to Firefly while the awesome people (me) think they from the greatest sci-fi bug themed space combat film of all time, which always leads to fist fights and guys dressed up like space cowboys crying like babies.

2. Weird Technology:

There’s a few instances of odd technology that really bug me. In one episode they are on some backwater planet that looked just like any bar you’d see on Earth decades ago. Then a guy is thrown through a window, but it’s not really a window at all, it’s a force field. Wouldn’t it be much more reliable and energy efficient on a backwater planet to have a real window there when everything else seems to be based on our current level of technology? It’s like having GPS on a horse. Even worse is when their guns make fancy noises, but look just like regular guns. It’s fucking distracting.

3. Inara Serra:
inara2
Guess what, she’s sexually free AND a strong woman! The Captain loves her and she loves the captain, but they can’t admit it. I get it. Move on.

4. River: The Weirdo Girl with Special Powers

riverfromfirefly

This is how she looks in every scene.

I can’t stand a beautiful weirdo character. They annoy the piss out of me.  This time it’s a girl named River played by Summer Glau. I can’t stand her because she’s annoying and she doesn’t get useful until late in the season. Until then, she’s so friggen mysterious and strange that I suppose we are supposed to be entranced by her. It’s like they made River for the weirdest girl in school to latch onto.

I feel bad about saying this, but  I find Summer Glau to be unattractive, especially in this series. I think a lot of it has to do with her dead in the eyes acting style. It works a little more for her where she played a robot in Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles than it does in Firefly.

5. The Theme Song.

It sucks.

6. Mythology

You can really tell that Whedon and crew had high hopes that this wasn’t going to be a one and done season and it suffers. Buffy worked much better in this respect. Even though there were many mysteries that took several seasons to solve, there was at least one cohesive story every season.

Firefly just felt like it lacked direction. In Buffy you’d have a big bad. In Firefly, you’ve got the River stuff that kind of meanders (no pun intended), the threat of the Federation screwing the crew, and the vague threat of the Reavers. Why couldn’t they have the bounty hunter guy that shows up at in the last episode making appearances all through the first season? It would have been a hell of a lot more satisfying.

——-

And now no doubt after I’ve sent you into a furious rage, I would like to point out that I also saw Serenity and get this, I totally loved it. It’s a real shame that it didn’t do well. Strange world we live in, isn’t it? I’d totally go to the theater to see another one.

  • I agree with most of your complaints. This show never did a lot for me either. I don’t have a problem with Summer Glau like you did or the Mal/Inara thing, but the rest of it I’m right there with you. I mostly keep quiet about Firefly because I don’t feel the need to offend fans of it. I do not hate it. Just didn’t do a lot to excite me.

    And that forcefield window thing is a weird choice.

  • Vincent

    I don’t like pooping on another fan’s obsession (usually), but Firefly NEVER gets any guff when I don’t think it’s that great. It bothered me to the point that I felt like I had to say something, especially if you get a violent backlash from super fans. It’s crazy. I’m allowed not to like the friggen thing.

    Good to hear I’m not exactly alone.

  • I couldn’t make it through more than an episode or two of Firefly, mainly because I hated the characters starting with the stupid captain.

  • Wow, I thought I was the only one. Didn’t hate the series, but it didn’t do much for me – but I did love the movie! Weird.

    The technology aspect bugged the crap out of me. There was such a forced effort to combine futuristic and retro tech that it was distracting. Just like the dialog – why did the war result in everyone trying to speak like it was 600 years in the past? And what’s with all of the Chinese curses when only white people and Whedon-approved minorities make it into the future anyway?

  • bold. this is very bold. good on you! but the theme song might be the best song ever written. so there.

  • I’m going to cut your balls off with a knife! (Or did someone already call dibs on that one…?)

    Anyway, at least you’re onto something with the random-uses-of-technology. Revolvers should not make laser gun sounds.

  • Monty

    Well said, sir! I, too, watched Firefly with, if not hope, then at least not open suspicion. I should have had open suspicion. If I may add a few remarks:

    — I don’t accept a character as a lovable rogue when they ONLY act like huge a-holes THE ENTIRE SHOW (I am looking at you, Captain).
    –Pretending that someone died to a doctor that was treating them ALSO is not so much funny as a “what?!?” moment.
    –Space western. Just…no. No to that. No. No to Outland, no to this, no no no.

    Two positive notes:
    –Adam Baldwin is always good. I prefer my rogues unlovable, but believably so.
    –Kaylee Frye is my favorite stoner space engineer, with GalaxyQuest’s Fred Kwan a close second.

    And yet, I think the thing I understand the least is how a show that the SyFy channel would probably refuse to make as “just too stupid for us” is so dosh-garned popular! Whatever. I’m going to go watch Babylon 5 again from the beginning. :)

  • Monty

    One more thing:
    Browncoats. Ok, so it’s a space western. And the “browncoats” are the losers in a Civil War. So they are the SOUTH. The bad guys, unequivocally, of the US civil war. Slave-holding, nation-betraying, treasonous dicks. So browncoats are the space equivalent of jerks with the Confederate flag on their trucker hats.

    I am now officially a Graycoat. Long live the Alliance, and a toast to U-Day.

  • Vincent

    lol Monty, I think you’re taking the Civil War analogy a little too far. I’m fine with space westers, though the original Outland is an awesome movie… but they aren’t wearing cowboy suits or talking like cowboys, it’s just a cowboy like plot. I agree about the random Chinese, it always seemed out of place.

  • You nitpicking son of a bitch. I’ve seen those Starship Trooper costumes reused in tons of low budget sci-fi movies/shows.

    Also, Kaylee makes my heart go pitter patter. I also want to let it be know that Nathan Fillion has a luscious head of hair (and yes, as a member of the Lex Luthor Hair Club for Men I’m jealous). And Retro Tech makes sense given that nearly all of those Outer planets were made up of settlers and pioneers. They would rely on proven, low maintenance technology that would not make them dependent on a supply chain.

  • If you want to see a tv show take the space bounty hunters/western frontier concept and do it right with a beginning, middle, and end to the story, watch Cowboy Bebop. I’m sure Whedon was just trying to copy that.

  • Yes, Cowboy Bebop is excellent.

  • Vincent

    Kaylee is a character I forgot to include. She dresses like she belongs at Lilith Fair ’95 and her old western talk annoys the f out of me, especially in the movie when she busts out “betwixt”. UGH!

  • Chad B

    I personally love Firefly, but I can understand most of your points. The one I can’t give ground to though is the theme song. That theme is AWESOME. (As is the rest of the show in my opinion but meh I’m not here to troll.)

  • Vincent

    Chad b, troll away. I can see why the song is catchy, but that doesn’t make it good in my ears and make me feel very stabby whenever I hear it.

  • I think the song is fine in and of itself but also helped doom the show. It’s slow. Makes you think the show will be slow. It was a bad choice for a sci-fi adventure show.

  • Vincent

    Good point Chris, although I do think that Enterprise’s was much worse when it comes to that department.

  • I tried to watch Firefly when it first aired, but couldn’t get into it. I saw Serenity in the theater and loved it. I didn’t even know it was a Firefly movie until I was sitting in the theater for it and one of my friends said something about it. Since I liked Serenity so much I thought I would give the show another chance. I bought the DVD set brand new, but only watched the first three or four episodes. It just wasn’t grabbing me like other shows. Someone bought the DVD set on eBay from me for more than what I paid for it brand new. So, Firefly = extra cash for me. I want to go through the whole series someday. Maybe third time’s a charm? I do own Serenity on Blu-ray, at least.

    I’ll also agree that Cowboy Bebop is a far superior space cowboy show.

  • Shawn Pickett

    I love Firefly and STRONGLY disagree with your point about the Starship Troopers movie (they were supposed to be in poer armor damnit!), but you do raise a few good points. I never gave the scene with the window force field much thought but you do have a point. I think they were trying to build plots for the future but your right it did kind of meander and lacked a cohesiveness that would have helped sell it more. I also think the show suffered from being on Fox. Still I find myself wishing there had been more.

  • Rain

    I loved Firefly. I mean, I kinda’ sorta’ a little bit get some of these complaints, but honestly, I mostly think you can suck it.

  • Tim

    I really liked Firefly, but you’ve got a few strong points. Yes, Summer Glau is annoying. Yes, already after the first ep you want to slap Mal and Inara. But really, did NO ONE get the force field window joke? People got thrown through the glass so much that they decided a fancy force field would be cheaper. Made me laugh the first time I saw it.
    Or do I see jokes where they are not?

  • Um, yeah that was the “joke”.

  • PrfktTear

    Haha… Whedon fans are so funny, they’ll defend his work to the death.

    I did like Firefly though. Really the only thing of Whedon I watched until recently when a friend of mine got me to watch Buffy. I made it to the end of season 3, but I just never had the urge to keep going. Maybe I will someday.

    I think the Civil War analogy Monte made might be right, but I think he’s got his sides crossed. Or at least how “I” see it. Just because the Brown Coats LOST the Civil War doesn’t make them the “bad guys” it just makes them the losers. What if the South beat the damn Yankees and slavery as we knew it back then existed to this day?

  • Tecmoninja

    Ok maybe my memory isnt serving me but wasnt it just a hologram displaying a window theme? Makes perfect sense to me since the place was a lot like new mexico where windows arent all that necessary since we donts ee much rain. I’m afraid that you guys need to take the analogy to its proper conclusion… rag tag rebels, large space military industrial complex… its a play on starwars without daddy or boy band issues

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  • A Guest Who Liked Firefly

    Personally, I do like Firefly, but these all make sense… No main antagonist, technology out of place, and that theme song gets annoying fast…
    Kudos to you for presenting some of the “bad” things about a show with a pretty crazy fandom.

  • Kira

    OMG THANK YOU FOR THIS BLOG POST!!!!! Who knows if youre still here arter 5 years but…

    1. All of your point I agree with a thousand times over
    2. My sister is a Firefly superfan, she convinced me to put the series on my To Do list last year.
    3. Finally got around to it but Im not sure if I hate it because I truly hate it or because compared to Star Wars and Lost (the two series I just finished) its really just piss poor writing and execution (I have some qualms with both of those series too but they both stand on solid ground)

    I dont know how others havent been pummeled by Firefly superfans – even living on the other side of the country from my sister, with a separate friends group, and separate Comicon events – all I ever hear about is Firefly (and I dont bring it up), and previously if Id heard disparaging comments made, those people would defend to the death…

    Comparatively its much like my loyalty to Star Wars or Marvel lol so I guess Ive got to give them a pass :)

  • Kira

    PS I can say that my FAV part of Firefly is the stick zombie after the credits… hilarious…

  • Oh I’m still here. Thanks for the comment!

  • I’m doing some research and that’s how I stumbled upon this post now…As a matter of fact, I don’t agree with most of what you wrote here, but each to their own, of course…But…The theme song sucks? Seriously? Lol, I just couldn’t let that pass…:D