Cracked.com recently released a short video wherein the “new guy” posits that the Firefly crew was really the bad guys and the Alliance really the good guys in Joss Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity narrative. It’s an argument with some merit, as it turns out, and the video’s pretty funny for those familiar with the show and movie. My apologies for the required click-through.
Not to take this comedy short overly seriously, but many commentators on the video have put forth examples of the Alliance’s nefariousness or point out that the crew is comprised of anti-heroes to counter the “new guy’s” argument. But I think the main rebuttal is that Firefly only glances at the bad guy/good guy dichotomy before more or less giving it the finger. At the base line of the show is the Western genre, a genre that is traditionally known for its black hats and white hats. But Firefly is more in line with a revisionist Western like Unforgiven where the heroes are broken and the lawmakers corrupted. To attempt to pigeonhole the groups into “good” and “bad” is missing the point. The waters are muddied. Mal would like to be good, but even his name turns against that nature. The ‘Verse forces compromises on his character to keep his ship and crew in the air until he’s no longer a great or even good man–he’s just okay.
Furthermore, the ‘Verse isn’t divided into two clean sides. All of the characters and organizations in the ‘Verse are in a gray area. Niska, Badger, and the like are antagonists to the Firefly crew, as is the Alliance. Mal’s crew doesn’t neatly fit in anywhere. They’re outsiders and misfits, intentionally flying in liminal space, not even trying to find a home, just trying to keep flying.
So ultimately the question is faulty. An amusing mind-trip, but faulty.