By Will Wade,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Buffy creator's space Western entertains.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The Serenity crew operates on the fringes of the galaxy, where the rule of law is often less important than the power of the gun; in the pursuit of what's right and just, they must sometimes break the law. Unlike many space dramas, in which the captain makes all the decisions, this crew operates more like a democracy, with many decisions made as a group.
Positive Role Models
Strong female characters; cast includes some diversity. Most of the main characters have plenty of flaws (and shady histories), but they almost always do the right thing -- and they definitely care about one another. Characters demonstrate perseverance and teamwork.
Violence & Scariness
Plenty of action -- ranging from fistfights to gun battles -- but there's little blood or gore.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A fair amount of sexual discussion and innuendo, as well as scenes of people having sex -- though there's no explicit nudity. Strong attraction/sexual tension between two key characters, one of whom is more or less a high-class prostitute (prostitution is legal in the show's world, and characters often talk about the difference between licensed, respected companions and common whores). She puts a good deal of effort into defending the notion of sexual relationships without emotional entanglement -- though sometimes it seems that even she has trouble believing that. Kissing between male-female and female-female couples.
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Infrequent swearing includes words such as "son of a bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some drinking and smoking.
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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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One of the best one hit wonders
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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?
How do the characters in Firefly demonstrate perseverance and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?
- Premiere date: September 20, 2002
- Cast: Adam Baldwin, Gina Torres, Nathan Fillion
- Network: Syndicated
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Character Strengths: Perseverance, Teamwork
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate