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Firefly and the Sour Case of its Cancellation

The Super Firefly Sour Cake

Adjani Gama Dessavre

A lot of you know the sad story of the cancellation of Fox 2002 series Firefly. You may even already have watched the only season ever made (if you haven’t, go right now and play those goddamn incredible episodes during the quarantine). Today’s article will cover this story full of spaceships, cowboys, fantastic Sci-fi and a sour ending in real-life. 

Let’s start from the beginning: what is Firefly about? A brilliant Space Western –yes, I’m clearly biased, for I love the series–. It tells us the story of Captain Reynolds and his crew travelling on the Serenity, a Firefly-class spaceship. All their adventures are set in a Universe where Earth is no longer a place where humans can live. Also, there are hundreds of “new Earths” that were colonized and adapted for humans. Obviously, there was a war, there exist corruption, poverty and conspirations. It is a Joss Whedon story, one of the geniuses, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And as Joss stated it: Firefly “is about nine people looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things”.

In my opinion, it was a great series with interesting round characters, world-building, beautiful costume design and, most of all, different and intriguing storylines. That being said, then you can ask: if it was so great, why was it cancelled? A lot of factors contributed to the cancellation, the main one being Fox terrible decisions. Fox’s argument was that the ratings were not enough to support renewal. How on hell was it supposed to have enough ratings after their disastrous management:

  1. They aired it on Friday night, which is known to be a terrible time slot. 
  2. The marketing was even more terrible than the time slot. The TV commercial actually used phrases like “cosmic hooker” and “the most twisted show in television” (watch it for yourself if you don’t believe me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8JMs1_S7lU). So it sounded more like some weird comedy rather than a Sci-fi Space Western.
  3. The episodes were aired out of order. Yes, that is right, you did not misread that. In a show where the story is essential, where there is a sequence, they decided to just show the episodes in random order. In fact, the pilot was shown at the end… You know, that episode that introduces the characters and the world was at the END! (Who was the idiot behind that decision? seriously…)   

So maybe now you understand why I believe it was Fox’s fault that is was cancelled and not the show in itself. In fact, Joss Whedon has referred to the cancellation as one of the greatest griefs about his career, and, even nowadays, the show has quite a big fan base. 

Now, I did say that the real-life ending of this story was sour. After all the show was cancelled after only one season. There was a great group of unhappy people: the fans, the actors, Joss Whedon. However, not everything was grim. In 2005, a movie was produced: “Serenity” as a sequel to the series, so at least the fans got some sort of finale. Even more significant, a series of comics, Serenity, continuing the story were released from 2005 to 2017, and a second set named Firefly that started on 2018. I have not read them yet, but I have been told that I should do it. When I do, I will write about them.  

 I will just end recommending you to watch Firefly if you haven’t, to rewatch it if you have. It is the kind of series where you can just relax and watch a fun story or be really deep with all the situations going on and the philosophy behind it. After all, we all are just people looking into the blackness, and each one of us is seeing different things…

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