Thought provoking, if you're of a mind.
I love this show. I sat and watched it with my children when they were 11 and 13. Some of it was hard to explain to them, but it helped me understand why I like it so much. Set in the future with a frontier flavor, most everything about this show bucks the standards of today. A "Companion" (call-girl, if you will) is an honorable profession. Why not? It's an honest profession. The ship mechanic is a woman, who is played as naive, and yet she can make an engine sing. Don't judge a book by it's cover. The second in command is also a woman, one who looks like she blindly follows her captain. But her loyalty is based on a trust between herself and the captain: they have faced death together and would willingly die for each other. The "bad boy" is just a guy who doesn't get it. He doesn't understand loyalty, people taking care of each other is a foreign concept, but when he messes up, he doesn't want people to think badly of him. Just a like a little boy. The captain has a code, his code. Whether we agree with him or not, you have to respect that he does what he thinks is correct for the situation.The doctor would give everything he has and is to protect his sister. His sister has been experimented on my the government. The Government is portrayed as uncaring about the little people who are not willing to settle for handouts, but want to earn their way. The Firefly crew are portrayed as people wanting to earn their own way, but the government has made that difficult at best. Add in deadpan one liners, great acting, fabulous scripts and story lines and a crew with loyalty that drips off the screen and you have excellent viewing and hours of conversation starters.
This show is full of cultural parallels, divergence and anomalies and is an incredible springboard for endless conversations with your children, assuming you don't mind dealing with some of the hard stuff. I do caution that there are a few episodes that deal with sex as a profession and one with torture that I think goes over the top, and you might have a bit of a time explaining the Chinese cursing. For that I caution that parents watch first, then watch with anyone under 16.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing