Friday Hoydens: Women of Firefly

Zoe, Kaylee, River and Inara. The four graces. Different talents, different struggles, different features, different life experiences. Same life-affirming energy. I wish we could have heard more of their stories, and maybe one day I will get around to reading all the slash fiction.

The four female actors from Firefly in evening dress

Gina Torres, Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin and Jewel Staite at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

I don’t have time today to write as I should in praise of these awesome actors and the beloved characters they played for all too brief a time. (Nor to précis or respond to the very often legitimate and intriguing critiques that have been written about the limitations to the way they were used.) I just wanted to remind us of what we once had, though I am not yet willing to say we shall not see their like again, and perhaps prompt a game of ‘remember our favourite bits’.

*Spoilers may lurk hereunder.*

Four-part poster of the Firefly women in the style of Mucha

Art-nouveau inspired poster art by Megan Lara

Categories: arts & entertainment, fun & hobbies

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14 replies

  1. One day I am going to find myself in a situation in which it will be appropriate to quote Kaylee saying “Have great sex!” as a cheery farewell to someone. It’s an ambition.

    • *shamefaced admission*
      I haven’t seen any Firefly yet. It’s on my list, honest.

      • Aaaaaand as soon as I post that I remember that I did catch portions of a few early episodes. The broadcast schedule just didn’t fit in with my other-stuff schedule at the time though, so I didn’t catch more than that.

  2. I don’t know enough about Firefly to comment either, although I do remember and love the comment about ‘nothing betwixt my nethers that ain’t been battery powered’. But I thought this tumblr from Jen was interesting too. I will have to go back and watch it again.

  3. I have *ahem* several copies of the dvds, I could set one free to do the Hoyden rounds if you’re interested?

  4. While we’re talking about Kaylee and sex (we are, aren’t we?), I loved the flashback scene in “out of gas” where Mal and Kaylee meet, because it’s the way I wish the world would treat women and their relationship with their work. He sees her being a person with a sexuality. He doesn’t require that she stop being sexual, he doesn’t require that she continue being sexual, or provide him with anything sexual, all he sees is that she’s damn good at the job he needs done.
    Mindy, you might want to read “Frustrations of an Asian American Whedonite”.

  5. I just recently watched Firefly based on a recommendation from a friend. About these four characters, I thought the friendship between Inara and Kaylee was really sweet.
    @orlando: Thanks very much for the link! I agree about the episode “Out of Gas”. At first, I was surprised by the scene where we first see Kaylee, but then I realized that the reason I was surprised is because I’ve seen it so infrequently that a female character can have sex and have that be one aspect of their lives, but with lots of other aspects as well. And I love that she’s an engineer.

  6. I also love how Kaylee manages to be both girly and a mechanic – she is quite happy negotiating her own space that includes the two!
    River is just awesome, but does have a little bit of the women-in-fridges thing going on. But she’s still cool. Inara has always puzzled me a little, but I love the scenes between her and Kaylee because the affection they have for each other is adorable.
    And as for Zoe – more awesome. A lot of people get on her case for being subservient to Mal, but I don’t really think that’s accurate. Like Kaylee, she manages woman (even with mother ambitions) with warrior and leader.
    As a side note, I read a piece once on Zoe and how it had taken someone else pointing out that she was a woman of colour to actually realise it for herself. I found that the same thing happened to me – I’d never actually paid attention to the fact that she was a WOC because the show doesn’t make any sort of deal out of it. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I’m not too sure.

  7. Inara has always puzzled me a little, but I love the scenes between her and Kaylee because the affection they have for each other is adorable.
    I always kind of shipped Inara and Kaylee. I thought they’d make a far better couple than Inara and Mal.
    Regarding Inara being “puzzling,” Jennifer Kesler breaks her portrayal down really well here.

  8. Nick, the discussion at your link is really good, too. It’s true that the idea of how companions fit into their society didn’t feel as if it had been thought all the way through. But I did love the image in the pilot of the prostitute blessing the preacher.
    Zoe isn’t subservient she’s, in Gina Torres’ own words, ‘career military’. She has no trouble telling Mal when she thinks he’s making a bad decision (and Torres is brilliant with the deadpan), she just believes that when she is given a direct order it’s her job to follow it.
    Going to edit to add a spoilers warning up top. Until tigtog reminded me I think I forgot there is anyone out there who hasn’t watched it.

  9. Jo: I don’t know any woman fan of colour who didn’t instantly notice that Zoe is a WoC. That seems the most important thing to me. That some white fans don’t realise, I hope mainly contributes to normalising an ethnically diverse cast.

    It’s true that the idea of how companions fit into their society didn’t feel as if it had been thought all the way through.

    That’s the toned-down version of my opinion! I’m afraid Joss only gets partial credit for his feminism from me. Yes, he’s better than most male directors, but at this point, I know far more about his taste in women than is decently right and proper. Look at the picture on IMDB of the actress (who hasn’t appeared in anything else) he cast as Hero in his Much Ado.

  10. Coming late to the party … @mimbles, I would love to take you up on that offer. No hurry – next Hoyden meet up, whenever it is?

  11. Will do my best to remember – feel free to help by prodding me!

  12. No worries, will do 🙂

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