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October 03 2014

It's amazing how badly Fox screwed up Joss Whedon's 'Firefly'. This Business Insider article came out last week.

The whole time Fox fought Whedon on plot points large and small.

Among other things, network executives paradoxically insisted that the show be less dark and that Reynolds shoot more people. And they definitely weren't having Whedon's idea of having high-end escort Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin) inject herself with a serum that causes anyone who rapes her to die a horrible death and then having her get kidnapped and gang-raped, with that horrific scene only hinted at by the discovery of her dead kidnappers. There's nothing that dark in the show that aired, but there are plenty of disturbing moments that must have made the network nervous.

Airing it out of order on Friday nights and canceling it before a full season had completed was such an epic death sentence, I don't even know why they bothered greenlighting it in the first place.
I for one am grateful that rape plotline never happened.
I don't even know why they bothered greenlighting it in the first place.


They wanted to work with Joss and get some the critical buzz that his shows got. However I do recall that Firefly wasn't that well received by viewers at the time. When I watched it for the first time, I though some of the episodes were decidedly 'meh'.
Ditto, Sunfire. I take issue with it quite a lot. I don't think most of the article is new information, though I've never seen Buchanan's comments on exactly how the advertising was bungled, even though it's well known it was.
The Inara rape storyline was probably the one thing in this entire debacle that the Fox execs were right about.

The rest of it, though? Eeesh.
I didn't watch the show on its original run, so I got to watch it on the correct order from the start. On my first viewing I didn't love it. It wasn't until repeated viewings that I began to adore it. I think the show its like a great symphony that you only get to love the more you watch it.
The one good thing that came from FOX's mishandling of Firefly (not to mention Family Guy, Futurama and Undeclared all in that same year) is that when Kevin Reilly ran the network afterwards he usually did right by acclaimed shows that nobody watched. He kept them going up until the point they started losing money.

He gave Fringe, New Girl and Bob's Burgers healthy runs. He renewed Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He said that if it weren't for the ridiculously high licensing fee to the Terminator people, The Sarah Connor Chronicles would have returned for a third season. None of these shows would have made it past their first seasons if what went down in 2002 with Firefly, Futurama, Family Guy and Undeclared never happened.
Also happy we never saw the Inara story pan out. Apart from just being an awful idea, I think it would've led to a lot of backlash against Joss, coming so soon after "Seeing Red".
That's one thing I've heard quite a lot about, JesusSavedin01. Though it does seem to have some problems with the runs of some things--I'm still upset about the handling of Almost Human--but Firefly's handling did give a lot of shows a good chance, and I think that's a wonderful "legacy" of sorts.
God, that storyline sounds freaking horrible. Never thought I'd say this, but thank you, Fox.
From what I recall from an interview with Tim Minear, that rape sequence (which was going to involve Reavers, not random kidnappers) was going to tie into the storyline about Inara's terminal illness somehow. If I remember correctly, the episode was going to be about the crew's worst nightmare (a Reaver attack on the ship) coming true. An Aliens-esque fight for survival on the crew's part would ensue and the audience (as well as the characters) would be led to believe that Inara died in the chaos.

Until the very end of the episode when Mal finds her deep in the bowels of the ship with dead Reavers all around her. She injected herself with the vial that we briefly saw during the Reaver sequence in the pilot and killed them with it. Not only is Inara alive, she's also a major reason why her shipmates survived as well. I have no idea how Tim would have linked this to her illness, but there you go.

[ edited by JesusSavedIn01 on 2014-10-03 20:54 ]
That's even worse.
Yeah, I agree. I mean I'm all for darkness (particularly in a genre show), but I don't think I would have enjoyed that episode of Firefly. Maybe Tim could have made it work somehow, I don't know. But, yeah that sounds a little too dark for Firefly. And this is coming from a hardcore fan of Bryan Fuller's Hannibal.
I vaguely recall that the sexual tension between River and Simon would have been played up.
I thought it was Jayne and Simon. (I say as someone who doesn't like either of those.)
I think the writers noticed the connection and how some fans reacted to it.
The Inara scene, as described by JesusSavedIn01, sounds rather like a Joss version of Guy de Maupassants Boule de suif in his shortstory collection about the Franco-Preussian war.
When described baldly as the reviewer has done, the Inara killing-serum plot point does sound jarring and off-putting, but I have faith in Joss and Tim's story-crafting ability, and believe they would have pulled it off with grace and restraint, providing insight into Inara's strength of character and ingenuity.

I for one would have been on board to see how the ramifications panned out in the following seasons -- if there had been them.

There are several Buffy/Angel/Dollhouse episodes that appear quite cringe-worthy when synopsized, but the alchemy of clever plotting, dialogue and stellar acting combined to create excellent TV, IMHO.

In it's own way, the serum plotline is an excellent— albeit dark—weapon in an empowered woman's arsenal, dontchathink?

Talk about your strong female characters...

[ edited by Hera on 2014-10-04 00:40 ]

[ edited by Hera on 2014-10-04 00:42 ]
I for one would have been quite glad to see Firefly have a very long run without anybody getting raped at all.
I understand your point, and agree with your desire, AndrewCrosset.

In an enlightened world (the one that most non-armageddon type science fiction takes place in), one would hope that rape never occurs at all, but it was (and is) a reality in frontier and unenlightened cultures, of which a large part of Firefly's world is set in. I believe this would have been an actual danger that would not be out of the realm of believability...being out beyond the fringe of civilization as the crew most often found themselves.
I watched the show first on dvds and as far as an immediate reaction, not only did I love it instantly, but everyone I've talked into watching the pilot episode has become an instant fan.
Among my friends, there was more of the slow build reaction. When we first started watching it, everyone was bothered by different things. My roommate was bothered by costuming that forced the civil war motif a little too hard. A guy at work didn't like way the characters talked. I didn't like the Chinese. Actually, none of us liked the Chinese.

It was only on repeat viewings that these things fell away and the relationships between the characters became so intensely wonderful.

I do think the show could have been better. I don't take the attitude that this article takes, that the network should have shut up completely. Even Joss has said that once he made changes based on the network's notes for the pilot, it was a much better episode. It's just that after they gave those notes and he made those changes, the network went that next step and decided not to air it. Some of what they contributed was good, it was just lost in a sea of stupid.
I think one thing that was left out about Inara's rape is that I recall Minear saying that the beginning of the episode would have Mal with his typical calling Inara whore thing, but then after finding Inara, he would extend his hand out to help her out, and he stops calling her whore and sees her profession in a new light and is more gentlemanly to her as a result of this. I think that's what a lot of people I personally know have a reaction to: not that Inara faces rape full-stop, but that Inara faces rape to kickstart a character development in Mal. (Plus there's the serum having a 'Women have a way to shut down rape' sort of feel to it.)

I'm of the opinion that a woman doesn't have to kill anything or have anything deadly about her to be a strong (ie well-written) character. So I also don't think the loss of the serum storyline makes Inara any less empowered. The fact that she chooses to express her sexuality in any way she sees fit does that. (There's also a thing to be said that if this storyline did happen, two female characters who are very open about their sexuality face threat of rape and rape. That's not encouraging.)
Happy the Inara storyline never happened. Would be happier never even having heard that anyone thought this was a good idea.

Always interesting to read comments. Firefly is the only Whedon show I embraced on my first viewing. Loved it wholeheartedly and never looked back. Took me 3-4 tries to get thru the 1st Buffy season on Netflix
I don't think I would have had problems with the Inara rape story line, because Joss would have written and/or supervised the writing.
Yeah, the first seasons of Buffy and Angel (and the first half of Buffy: Season 2 for that matter) were rough going for me. I'm hoping Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pulls a Buffy/Angel and surges creatively this season. Like you I loved Firefly from the start.
I don't care how "well executed" it is, rape plotlines are awful and then to turn me off the show entirely (looking at GOT and Downton Abbey for recent examples) so I'm happy that never happened.

yes it happens, yes its realistic, I dont want realism, I want escapism and I like my characters unraped regardless of how unrealistic it is.
Not that I'm a... fan of rape plotlines (boy - is that an awkward statement to make) but given that the Verse's resident complete monsters are out-and-out cannibalistic rapists...

Obviously I can only speak for myself, but if rape was a particularly strong trigger subject for me, I probably wouldn't have ever touched the series with a ten foot pole given that the topic has been imbedded in the show's framework from the get-go.
Oddly enough I could have stomached the Inara plot if it were just about her but the Mal stuff sounds nauseating. Lets rape a female character so the male character can grow? GROSS. Let it take Inara getting raped for Mal to start respecting her? DOUBLE GROSS. Let the writers talk about it as if it's moving and beautiful ('he would have got down on one knee and began treating her like a 'lady' *ugh*)? DISGUSTING.

The whole story line is really disgusting and it proves that both Joss and Tim can be very flawed writers and, well, feminists for that matter. Which just makes them human after all but it does blow my mind that they ever thought that would be a good idea and that it was still talked about fondly years later.
brinderwalt, it's the difference between a metaphor and a very painful reality. Metaphors are often used to deal with subjects that are hard to handle any other way.
brinderwalt, it's the difference between a metaphor and a very painful reality. Metaphors are often used to deal with subjects that are hard to handle any other way.

It didn't look too much like it was supposed to be a metaphor in Bushwhacked to me...
None of the characters were raped in Bushwhacked. Yes, there was the threat, but that's not the same thing.
You would think having been the victim of rape, that I would be appalled by it being addressed on a TV series. I don't think glamorizing it, or using it for sensationalism is acceptable, but neither is sweeping it under the rug and pretending it doesn't happen.

We don't know exactly how that episode would have played out. Drawing angry conclusions based on a brief, third hand synopsis of an episode that never happened doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
okelay Just curious as to whether you ever watched "Quantum Leap." One of the fourth season episodes dealt with date rape. Quite well, I thought.

There is also a very powerful Lifetime movie called Shame, starring Amanda Donohoe, Fairuza Balk & Dean Stockwell. It deals with the aftermath of two girls who were date raped by college boys; one presses charges, the other doesn't. Some people in the town stick up for the girls, others figure they "got what was coming." And of course others think the girls made it up just to "get back" at the boys for some imagined slight.

It's not a pleasant subject by any means, but that doesn't mean it should never be discussed/used in a show or movie. Hell, even "Seeing Red" dealt with it. It can be done, and done well.

Nebula My condolences.

[ edited by ShadowQuest on 2014-10-04 06:02 ]
We don't know exactly how that episode would have played out. Drawing angry conclusions based on a brief, third hand synopsis of an episode that never happened doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

This.

Anyone who has ever spent a significant amount of time in the company of writers or dabbled in the art themselves should be able to tell you that there is oftentimes a world of difference between the kind of emotionally supercharged ideas that are strong enough in the mind to germinate into a full-fledged story and the actual tales that wind up on paper.

If the show had continued I have no doubt that an episode based at least in some part on this initial idea would've surfaced (and most likely would've been awesomely received by most of us critics out here) not because of the particulars of its plot (which I also suspect would've gone through extremely drastic changes for all of the right reasons) but because it was written by writers who were working from the perspective of being deeply engrossed in the pathos of what it was they were putting down on paper; you don't entertain a story idea as sick and twisted as this one without thinking a lot about it beforehand, and even if not a single word of what you originally envisioned ends up on those sheets of paper the fact that you put all of that concentrated time and effort into thinking about what not to do is still going to shine through the end product in glorious fashion.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2014-10-04 07:11 ]
I'm sorry but if there were true there'd never be bad television/stories/movies. Writers think what they're doing is brilliant all the time but that doesn't mean it can't be offensive or badly executed. And I can't speak for anyone else, but I wasn't drawing angry conclusions based off a third-hand synopsis, I was basing them off my recollection of Minear speaking about the story in his own words.

I'm not opposed to showing rape in stories. I AM opposed to having female characters raped to teach male characters something or help them evolve. And the idea that Mal was going to stop calling Inara a 'whore' and get down on one knee and kiss her hand because she was raped is, quite frankly, nauseating to me. And I felt gross reading Minear's comments when he talked about it as if it were something that they found terribly moving.

They skirted dangerously close to this story line back with Buffy/Spike and the AR in S6. I'm a fan of how their relationship was written and Spike's development overall but an argument can be made that they had Buffy nearly raped to propel Spike's arc which is about as anti-feminist as you can get. And I do think they dropped the ball in S7 when it came to adequately exploring how Buffy was coping with her near sexual assault. A lot of the time was spent exploring Spike's guilt and how he was coming to terms with it, and not on the female character/near victim of the actual assault.
I'm sorry but if there were true there'd never be bad television/stories/movies.

I absolutely, positively believe that there is no such thing as an inherently bad story. To quote one of my favorite authors, "I never saw or heard or smelled anything that couldn’t be talked about."

There are plenty of bad writers and bad examples of storytelling out there. But no matter how strange/repulsive or - conversely - mundane/appealing a story idea might be, there exists somewhere/somehow a context in which it is both appropriate and inspired for it be - dare I say it - explored (most especially in the case of such thoroughly terrible, but real, things as rape or murder.)

One of the tells of a great writer is having a knack for finding those places where the ideas that you or I would validly choose to avoid (a slightly more mundane example: horses in space) just happen to fit, and based on my experience of the writerly skills of the parties involved I have a fair modicum of confidence that they would've found a way to successfully pull it off.
I am undecided regarding Inara's rape scenario. In the end it would probably come down to execution - the way it always does. To me, there are (almost) no bad stories - only bad ways of presenting them. But of course there are exceptions to that rule. And this might just be one of them. I don't know.

That thing about heightened sexual tension between River and Simon however... Yes. Please. Somebody find Joss Whedon a TARDIS so that he can get that done! That scene, that was cut from 'Our Mrs. Reynolds', is still the greatest scene in the history of television DVD for me. As much as I adore Kaylee, River and Simon share my favourite relationship throughout all fiction. Throw in a healthy sexual component and it would have been even more precious because it rarely gets done - and *never* with characters as awesome as these.
When I heard this show was going to be produced, I couldn't wait. After BtVS and ATS, I was so tuned for this show.

Then, the first episode aired and I was like, "What?". By the time the 4th episode aired, I'd lost interest. The plot didn't make sense, the characters didn't either.

It was only when the DVD was released when I gave the show a rewatch and the difference was night and day. FOX did this show a huge disservice showing it out of order. It's a serial based show, how clear could that be?
I personally would have preferred they stayed away from anything Simom and River. I have a huge squick factor on incestuous type things (exception being when it's portrayed in a negative light) so that really would've turned me off of the relationship had a sexual element in it somewhere.
As much as I adore Kaylee, River and Simon share my favourite relationship throughout all fiction. Throw in a healthy sexual component and it would have been even more precious because it rarely gets done - and *never* with characters as awesome as these.

I don't think "healthy" is what Joss was going for with that scene.
Really, also, Simon's indignanation and how he reacts to the situation in the deleted scene pulls the rug from that kind of implication for me.
I first heard about the the never filmed episode in which Inara uses the syringe, from Morena B herself at a small con. She thought we all knew it already which is why she was willing to talk about it. (We lied. It was all new to us;))
While it was going to be a very dark episode, she didn't have any problem with it herself & yes, it was going to play in with her illness.
Really, also, Simon's indignanation and how he reacts to the situation in the deleted scene pulls the rug from that kind of implication for me.

Yeah, I think the evidence is ample that that was just an example of the day's flavor of psychosis crossed with the fact that she just needs to get out more (which is part of the reason why - in my as-yet un-written, un-produced post- Leaves on the Wind continuation of the Verse - she leaves the ship early on in order to go do her own thing.)
I watched Firefly when it aired, which was the same year as season 7 of Buffy. I had read somewhere that part of the reason for Buffy ending was so that Joss could focus on the new show. I know now that SMG didn't want to do more Buffy, but at the time I felt like they were replacing Buffy with this new show, and I was pretty cranky about it. I quite honestly went into Firefly not wanting to like it.

It took a couple of episodes, but once I got a feel for the characters, I did end up loving it. When they did finally air what should have been the first episode, I was all excited to see the back stories and how they all ended up on Serenity. I loved Zoe & Wash; it was wonderful to see this healthy, happy, relationship, that seems to be so rare out there in TV land. All the little reveals about River, wondering what Book's story was...I was hooked.

This was the first time I remember being so upset by the cancellation of a TV show, and don't think I've ever been as upset since.

When I read an article like that, listing all of the things the network did, it's hard not to think that either they had to be complete idiots, or they were deliberately sabotaging the whole thing.
I thought the advertising for Firefly was pretty bad, but I've always believed that the single biggest mistake they made was replacing Serenity with Train Job as the premiere. I seem to remember reading ratings info at the time, where the first half of the episode had over 9 million viewers, but that number was cut in half by the second half. If I didn't already have faith in Joss, I wouldn't have kept watching into the 2nd half of the ep myself. It wasn't so much as it was 'bad' as that it seemed...pointless. What was the point of this show? Then they finally aired Serenity after the show had already been cancelled, and it was so good...Fox apparently didn't like it because they thought it was too slow, but come on - it was engrossing.

Anyway, the fact that Fox put it on Fridays and didn't do much to market it goes to show that they were already uninvested in the show before the first episode had even aired.
I don't think "healthy" is what Joss was going for with that scene.


Sure, it was played mostly for comedy - and also cut. And there is obviously a good chance, that the ongoing sexual tension between the Tams, that was supposedly once on the table, would have been portrayed as rather unhealthy. I am well aware of that. However we do not know this. To me, the relationship between Simon and River, the way it ended up, was close to perfect. So I choose to believe that a (serious) sexual component would have rather enriched than tainted it. And while I have no information, regarding whether I am right or wrong, I don't think that one scene was representative of what that relationship ingredient would have looked like longterm. An incest joke/running gag per episode? I don't think so.

I believe it would have made perfect sense, should River's emotional attachment towards her brother have incorporated a sexual element. She is a sexual being after all. It also makes sense, that she would follow the logic: "We love each other. People who love each other get together. So lets go for it." Which to me wouldn't have been a sign of how crazy she is, but rather how enlightened. Because that's exactly my point of view regarding this and similar topics. Be it incest, polyamory, homosexuality or anything else, where consenting people come together in a frowned-upon fashion: It's not wrong. It can be very beautiful. And there are seriously other things to truly worry about in this world.
As for Simon: His initial reaction (would it have been canon) was understandable. And necessary, because while taking place in the future, this show was produced in the 2000s, where you can't start with a status quo of a brother and a sister agreeing upon mutual (emotional) attraction, but rather have to build towards it. Should this have ever been the plan.
So I wouldn't close the lid just yet (atleast if you ignore the fact that the show has been gone for over a decade). Because if you have someone in your life, who is that important to you (and you to them of course), and who doesn't disqualify on secondary aspects like gender or age, there is a realistic chance for you and that person ending up romantically involved and for neither of you being either interested in a serious outside partner for romance and sex, or able to divide your focus and attention between two people who would both be of highest importance to you. Which is why Simon and Kaylee might have been doomed from the beginning (also, Mr. Whedon has a track record) because - to put it simple - I don't see Simon neglecting River in order to spend more time with Kaylee. Though I am obviously biased in that regard.
It may be because I read River as asexual, but I don't necessarily agree with 'River is a sexual being.' Also, I feel the statement that all people who love each other get together and have sex invalidates and undermined platonic relationships, relationships with asexual people who do not feel a need to have a sexual relationship. To me, that tells me a relationship is at its peak or is most complete if it involves sex.

I am not disagreeing that a relationship is not wrong so long as it is consensual, I just take issue with the implication that the highest enlightened truth of complete love River can come to is that a relationship is at its closest if it's sexual. (I also have problems with incest for a variety of reasons, but I don't think I need to get into that now. My feelings against it, I find, are the common feelings against it.)

And I also feel that Simon would not necessarily have to neglect River to pursue a relationship with Kaylee, though that is a main dilemma of his character arc. As he and River grow less codependent and accept they are separate people and learn to rely on others, Simon can open himself up to other relationships. Him adding someone into his life does not mean River suffers, especially if she herself is also going from 'My only friend is my sibling' to 'These are the people in my life and they take care of me as I take care of them.' It just needs to be done in a balanced manner, where River and Simon can address their own needs slowly. I feel the fear, Simon's fear, of neglecting River to take care of his own emotional needs and wants comes out of his idea that there is no one who will look to River long term. And as he accepts they are members of this crew and family, that fear falls away as it is no longer just the two of them. They have a support system now. But I feel I'm not articulating this point clearly. I'm a little sleepy so it probably makes more sense in my head.

[ edited by TenTonParasol on 2014-10-06 04:18 ]
It may be because I read River as asexual, but I don't necessarily agree with 'River is a sexual being.'


River obviously has a lot of issues to deal with, so it makes sense that her sexuality wasn't explored during those fifteen episodes. I call her a sexual being due to the fact, that she is no longer a child. And while there is a possibility of her being asexual, the fact that sexual tensions between her and Simon were considered, suggests that this was not an intended statement by the writers.

Also, I feel the statement that all people who love each other get together and have sex invalidates and undermined platonic relationships, relationships with asexual people who do not feel a need to have a sexual relationship. To me, that tells me a relationship is at its peak or is most complete if it involves sex.


This is not what I intended to say, so let me clarify: I do not state, that wherever there is love, there is- or there needs to be sex. Far from it. Like I said, there can be reasons, why such an element is off the table. I already named age and gender, but there are obviously many more. But even someone is more or less your 'type' you of course can have a platonic relationship with them without something being missing. Or you can be asexual and not have a type at all. All of this isn't really something that I intended to comment on. And if I had, it wouldn't have been derogative. All I am saying is that all these potential elements of a relationship, that cause our society to disdain such a relationship - like being together while sharing the same sex, or the same blood, or being more than two people - are things, that I believe should not be condemned for what they are. And that if you have two (or more) people, who are extremely close, a sexual element is a possibility. No matter if they are related, of the same sex or whatever. But only that: A possbility. Not a necessity. So it wasn't my intention to diminish platonic relationships, but rather broaden the spectrum of acceptable sexual ones.
The reason, why I stated to prefer Simon and River's relationsship to be sexual opposed to being platonic is simply due to personal preference. It is however not an objective valuation. So while to me, this element potentially would have made their relationship even more worthwhile, I do not claim this as an universal fact. Also there are Buffy and Dawn or even Angel and Connor as examples of where personally I am rather okay with nothing sexual going on (and not due to the coincidence of those being same-sex relationships). Others might disagree. It's simply a personal preference of mine regarding a single couple of characters.

And I also feel that Simon would not necessarily have to neglect River to pursue a relationship with Kaylee, though that is a main dilemma of his character arc. As he and River grow less codependent and accept they are separate people and learn to rely on others, Simon can open himself up to other relationships. Him adding someone into his life does not mean River suffers, especially if she herself is also going from 'My only friend is my sibling' to 'These are the people in my life and they take care of me as I take care of them.' It just needs to be done in a balanced manner, where River and Simon can address their own needs slowly. I feel the fear, Simon's fear, of neglecting River to take care of his own emotional needs and wants comes out of his idea that there is no one who will look to River long term. And as he accepts they are members of this crew and family, that fear falls away as it is no longer just the two of them. They have a support system now.


This is a perfectly acceptable scenario. And very possibly the way, things would have played out in the end. There are certainly signs towards it. It's just not the way, I would write my fanfiction, if you will (I don't write fanfiction). So as long as this progress is not edged in stone - and especially considering we are talking about a hypothetical scenerio (regarding sexuality between River and Simon), that might have changed the way things played out in the end, I choose to stick with what I> care about more. Which is that "one person in the world"-scenario compared to a "broadened support system". There obviously have been traces of both but the elements of the former are a big part of what "Firefly" means to me and why it is among my most favourite shows.

Regarding incest: I truthfully never understood the bias against it. Because to me (and I realise some people will be offended by this) it is no different from homosexuality (obviously there are differences on the surface): Accepted in earlier cultures like egypt and greece, condemnded for the last several hundred years, and now slowly on the rise towards acceptance again. Homosexuality has a headstart, but laws against incest are slowly but surely disappearing. As they should be, since there is no real ground for them. As long as you don't put two siblings on a deserted island and stop by for a visit two hundred years later, genetics aren't an issue. But even if they were, as long as people with genetic diseases, drug addicts, people over forty (or whatever the age is, where pregnancies become rather risky) and so on can have sex and possibly children without being harassed for it, so should those who are blood-related. Because if the possibility of having a "nonperfect" child is the issue here, those people are no better. Yet I think about what kind of message this is towards handicapped people, if we basically tell them: "Your life is second-class and perhaps it should have been prevented." I mean really? Because it is not like the people born from risky constellations would have otherwise been someone else's healthy child. They simply would not have existed. And perhaps "stupid people" shouldn't mate with each other either, because even if not stupid by birth, their children will grow up in a stupid environment and possibly end up becoming stupid themselves. But of course no one (in their right mind) would say that. Yet it is exactly the same. We frown upon those people for no apparent reason. And while there are certainly people today, who atleast state, that they "accept" incest while not liking it, they don't really add to a safe and healthy environment, where people can live their lives openly and freely instead of having to hide away who they are and who they love out of fear and shame and even the indoctrinated feeling of being wrong, as well as the constant threat of prosecution and proscription and harassment. Like I said: It's exactly the same thing, homosexuals had to go through not long ago - and still have to go through in many places to this day.

I apologise if this should be too off-topic, though I hope it is something that can be discussed here.

[ edited by Sahjhan on 2014-10-06 06:53 ]
A lot of interesting points here about the article and the comments made within. The comments in reply are even more interesting ;)

The concept of an episode featuring Inara getting raped by Reavers and using the mystery vial from the pilot to ensure they died due to it containing an orally or injection-administered poison (that Inara would presumably have been immune to) is difficult to really judge fully. It very much seems to smack of extremely questionable shock tactics, and having Inara's suffering kick Mal's mental ass about his treatment of Inara does have an extremely sour smell to it...but if Inara was to be given a fatal illness and her actions were to be like a suicide charge on a battlefield? There's directions such stuff could be taken where a lot of dark stuff could be explored with a lot of opportunity for greatness or dreck depending on how the material got handled.

Firefly wasn't 100% perfect and I think a lot of why we love it so much is that it didn't have a chance to end up hitting insanely rough patches due to its short lifespan; the show, however, was nine people experiencing life on the frontier 9 different ways. We could have gotten episodes where the crew had to visit a planet for work where half the crew are in danger because of their gender - ultra-religious bigamists or misogynists, or a planet of Amazons, either culture violently hateful of one gender or another for highly stupid reasons - or adventures where the Alliance's intervention was a benefit because the downside to the Independence movement's beliefs - maybe a variation on the ST:TOS episode A Piece of the Action where the colony was utter chaos until an Alliance vessel's appearance introduced stability and Mal struggles with his feelings on knowing numerous lives were saved through the surrender of individual freedoms to a higher power - were brought to the fore.

Personally, I think the concept of Inara getting raped is something that is horrible but would have been an arguably valid topic for her character arc...she's the Guild's informal ambassador to the Rim, seeing clients in places away from heavy Alliance involvement barring trips to Persephone, so what kind of protection does Inara have during appointments if a client gets certain ideas into their heads? Look at what happened with Atherton Wing in Shindig and the question of "if complete scuzzballs like Wing can make it through Guild client screening, what kind of people could Inara end up contending with and how many of them are worse?"
This is not what I intended to say, so let me clarify...

Ah, if that was not your intention, then at this point I'd motion to agree to disagree. I concede ro the validity of your points, but I still don't see a suggestion of sexual tension or any sexual element between the Tam siblings anywhere, but you do. And I doubt either of us are going to come around to the other's on that pivotal point.

...but if Inara was to be given a fatal illness and her actions were to be like a suicide charge on a battlefield?

Now that is probably a direction I'd prefer. As well as pretty nuch everythinf you said. I'm generally disappointed there's little proof in the canon that th e Alliance has merits due to the way the plot is and the shortness of the series. And this storyline could certaintly lend to it if it was more about Inara and her struggles than about Mal.
I concede ro the validity of your points, but I still don't see a suggestion of sexual tension or any sexual element between the Tam siblings anywhere, but you do.


Actually I don't. I was refering to something that was mentioned in these comments regarding the network's interference. While I see a rather strong possibility for sexual tension between those two (as do apparently many others), the show never actually went that far.
Here's what Tim Minear said back in 2003 (Link:)

PopGurls: Were Simon and River supposed to have that kind of tension?

Tim Minear: Well… it’s not like we didn’t notice.

His comment is much vaguer than I expected, quite frankly. I still maintain that I don't think there's anything to notice, though that's apparently up to each individual's interpretation.

Considering the way the topic is skirted in the deleted scene and in Serenity, it looks like it would've remained comedic material and treated as "an example of the day's flavor of psychosis crossed with the fact that she just needs to get out more" (as described by brinderwalt) than anything else, even if I factor in Minear's comment and really read the one scene from "Safe" as incestuous (which I don't normally read as such). I don't really think it would have been something presented as healthy for either of them, especially as I interpret their character arcs as learning to grow less copedent. (Also, I apologize for my misspellings throughout this thread. Mobile during class lends to lack of quality control on spelling. I'm just now noticing it and cringing.)
Myself, I've always chalked the bulk of the Tamcest speculation to the fact that their brother-sister relationship was incredibly well-written, well-executed, and - most importantly - seriously dwelt upon - a fact that I think can throw a lot of people off since most cinema (for various reasons - some good, some bad) relegates serious male-female relationship building to being strictly a sexual romance building trope.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2014-10-07 01:07 ]
@brinderwalt:

I agree. To me, there was never a incestuous undertone in their relationship, other than what occured in that cut scene (which was rather vague and mostly played for comic relief). Minear's comment actually goes further than anything I myself ever read into their relationship regarding what was actually (intended to be) there. Which is interesting, since I'm kinda on the look-out for that sort of thing.

For me, if you ignore everything that might have been considered once or whatever, in the end it comes down to them being two people with incredible chemistry and great care for each other. And to me, under these circumstances, sexuality is always a possibility. Even if you are related. - After all, when does incest actually occur, if not a) when you are so close that these feelings develop towards a point where they are stronger than what society dictates, b) when you're horny (and possibly drunk) and without a care, c) when it's unknowingly or d) when it happens without consent (which I like to call 'rape' rather than 'incest'). Going with a), River and Simon are simply a case of: "Well, if it happens with anybody, there's a decent chance of it happening with those two." Kinda like with Cordelia and Xander before they actually became an item in season 2. The chemistry is definitely there. And I believe most people would read a possible (future) romance into their relationship - if not for the fact that they are siblings, which of course closes that door for a lot of viewers.

Thinking about it, though, and reading some of the comments here, makes me realise that my point of view might be rather unique. Not only regarding incest - that's pretty much a given - but also regarding the possibility of strong, close, platonic relationships. I know they exist, but it's not really something I can fully relate to; which causes me to see a potential for romance, where others might not.
For me, if you ignore everything that might have been considered once or whatever, in the end it comes down to them being two people with incredible chemistry and great care for each other. And to me, under these circumstances, sexuality is always a possibility.

That would depend, largely, on whether or not you subscribe to the Westermarck effect (which I personally do, since (a. it makes a lot of sense and (b. has proved consistent with my own life experiences) since it's been established from the get go that they had a very healthy, close relationship as kids.

I guess you could make the argument that the severity of River's mental state might have effected those sorts of early childhood bonds. However, you have to remember that although she is prone to exhibiting symptoms of acute mental illness (specifically schizophrenia) she herself is not technically mentally ill. It's all just a side-effect of her suddenly abnormal brain psychology, and given adequate time to cope with it I see no reason to believe that her brain wouldn't eventually learn how to ignore all of that extra data when necessary, thereby eventually rendering her symptom-less.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2014-10-07 07:58 ]
I cannot evaluate whether or not the Westermarck effect is a relevant factor or simply a byproduct regarding the taboo of sexual relationships between siblings combined with the sibling-like status of people you grew up with. It might also be a factor, that many people are looking for a bit of mystery and adventure in their partner (though I imagine being with a family-member is rather adventurous in itself) which they don't necessarily get with someone they've known their whole lives.
On the other hand you have people not interested in excitement and maybe even experiencing trust issues, who prefer to stick to what (and whom) they know. If we want to contemplate why some people are attracted towards those, they grew up with, while most are not, that might be a reason. It is somewhat tough to tell, since I suppose there aren't many studies regarding consentual incest. You would have to be pretty stupid admitting to something that might land you in jail (there are of course plenty of people on the internet - but it being the internet, that doesn't mean all that much).

Regarding River, trust might very well be a factor. Though I suppose you don't really need trust when you have psychic knowledge and/or remarkable intuition. For me personally it's about physicalness being and important expression of affection. And while there are of course other ways of being physical than having sex, it is the closest and most intimate one, and I never quite understood, why you shouldn't be attracted towards someone, you would very much be attracted to - or even supposed to be attracted to, were you not to share the same name. To put it bluntly: If your sister's hot, she's hot.

And finally, you have to consider that occurrence, where 'incest' gets much of its bad name from: sexual abuse within a family. This obviously happens way more than it should (which is never) and actually gets talked about since you have victims with a need for it to stop. It is however also an example of (one-sided) physical attraction existing between people who grew up together - or even are growing up together.
Obviously there can be very specific circumstances leading towards this. Like the perpetrator being a victim of abuse himself. Things, that cause someone to do something, they wouldn't do under normal circumstances (the way homosexuality becomes a thing for straight people in prison - atleast if "OZ" is to be believed).
But what are 'normal circumstances'? Is there even such a thing? It is my believe that any kind of attraction, any kind of action - healthy or unhealthy, common or uncommon - can be attributed to certain circumstances. Maybe I was fascinated by lions during my childhood and now I'm into big muscular guys with long blonde hair. There being a reason for something doesn't make it a bad thing. So if there is a reason (or probably several) of why people are attracted towards family members/those they grew up with, which only applies to a certain percentage of the population, yet not to the general public, than that's just that.
- And again I come back to homosexuality, which of course is also an exception of the norm and a deviation of the reproductive instinct, which is the general cause for our sex drive. And while it is said nowadays that you are "born that way", I am actually not that convinced. I believe there are reasons, why people are/become homosexual. Random experiences dating back as far as pregnancy (which technically would make you being "born that way" I guess) that are met with a unique reaction (which itself is based on the blueprint of ones personality and preferences, which in my mind can not be influenced or altered - making the tendency/probabilty of turning out a certain way, like e.g. homosexual, inherent, which actually makes "born that way" somewhat of true statement). Like that lion-thing. I just don't think it's something, that can be stopped or "cured". Probably pushed, though - I believe that if you as a man are surrounded only by other men OR only by decent men and hideous women, there's a higher chance of you leaning towards homosexuality. And if your a straight girl and your brother the only guy in town under the age of eighty you might wanna reconsider incest (or move to another town). So there are reasons. There are reasons, why people choose jobs that endanger their lives. There are reasons, why people sacrifice their time towards helping others. There are reasons, why people write obscenely long, largely off-topic postings when they should be working. And there are reasons, why blood-relation and/or growing up together doesn't stop everybody from being attracted to one another. It ain't good, it ain't bad, it's just somewhat uncommon.
And again I come back to homosexuality,


I rather you didn't. We're a broad church here and your comments are coming over as unpleasant to say the least. It would be best if you kept them to yourself. Feel free to use the email address at the bottom of the page if you seek further clarification.
Sorry, I didn't mean to offend anyone and tried to express my views as relatable and reasonable as I could without debasing anyones opinions or orientations. Guess I failed. I will not comment again.
"Oddly enough I could have stomached the Inara plot if it were just about her but the Mal stuff sounds nauseating. Lets rape a female character so the male character can grow? GROSS. Let it take Inara getting raped for Mal to start respecting her? DOUBLE GROSS. Let the writers talk about it as if it's moving and beautiful ('he would have got down on one knee and began treating her like a 'lady' *ugh*)? DISGUSTING."
vampmogs

Late to the party, but so much THIS!!

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