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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Firefly is a cult-fave space Western from the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There's lots of sci-fi action, though little of it results in visible bloodshed, and some characters drink and smoke. One of the main characters is a "companion" -- a glorified term for a high-class prostitute. One of the show's storylines centers on the attraction (and resulting sexual tension) between her and the ship's captain, and there's plenty of discussion of her job (it's a high-status profession in the show's world).
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What's the story?
In the fascinating alternative future imagined in FIREFLY, humans have "used up" Earth and ventured out to terraform new planets across the galaxy. Though some of these new worlds are wealthy, the show mostly takes place in the ones along the fringes. On these rough-and-tumble planets, life can be tough, and the law doesn't carry much weight when there are people with guns who want to help themselves to whatever they need. The series follows the crew of the spaceship Serenity, a lovable rogues' gallery led by Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). For various reasons, everyone on the ship wants to avoid notice by the Alliance that governs the galaxy, preferring instead to scratch out a living as mercenaries.
Is it any good?
With its distinctive vision, sharply written characters, and entertaining dialogue, this show is both unique and entertaining. It's a shame that it didn't catch on with a wide audience fast enough (it did develop a rabid cult base) and was cancelled after just 14 episodes.
To series creator Joss Whedon, Firefly's premise sounded so much like life in the Old West that he modeled much of show's culture -- including clothing, weapons, and language -- on the late 19th century. It's a brilliant idea that allowed him to combine elements of Star Wars with The Lone Ranger to invent a sci-fi show unlike any other. Although its departure point isn't particularly novel (see Farscape, Han Solo's early career, Robin Hood, et al), with Whedon at the helm, Firefly shines. Best known for creating the amazingly popular Buffy the Vampire Slayer series and its spin-off Angel, Whedon brings a fresh perspective to a genre overrun by shows that have all started to blend together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the two genres that Firefly blends together. Which elements make it a sci-fi series? Which make it a Western? What do the two genres have in common, and how are they different?
What, if anything, does this show have in common with creator Joss Whedon's earlier series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
Many of the show's disputes are settled through violence (or the threat of violence), particularly in outlying planets that are far from the reach of the law, where the strong can take advantage of the weak and defenseless. Does might ever make right? In most societies, what stops the powerful from making whatever rules they want?
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