The Joss Whedon SDCC Firefly Talk You Might Have Missed

You already know about (and have probably seen footage from) the Firefly 10th Anniversary panel at SDCC but what you might not know is that shortly after that, there was a Firefly 10th Anniversary press conference where Joss Whedon, Tim Minear, and the cast continued to revel in the Firefly love and got a little more in-depth about their feelings about the show, the anniversary, and how badly Fox treated the fledgling series.

Still riding the high of the SDCC panel, Joss Whedon, Tim Minear, Summer Glau, Alan Tudyk, Adam Baldwin, Sean Maher, and Nathan Fillion entered the room energized and full of love amid countless flashbulbs. This being a roomful of reporters rather than just fans gave this Q&A a more academic bent, but these reporters were also fans, and the fannishness came through even the most professional questions.

One woman, praising Firefly for its diverse female cast despite sci-fi’s tendency to push only the Warrior Woman as far as “being strong,” asked Whedon what Firefly says to women, and what it says to men about women.

“Everything I do is going to have the simple message,” Whedon replied. “Not to men, necessarily, but about women, than men who are comfortable with powerful women are more powerful men.” He loves that the women on Firefly are so different and that Zoe is good at ass-kicking, while Kaylee is good with fixing machines, and that even a character like Inara, who trades on stereotypically “feminine” qualities brings a strength to them, because she lives in a world in which what she does for a living isn’t considered inherently wrong.

In response to one question about how they feel looking back on the show ten years later, Alan Tudyk revealed that he’d recently done a re-watch of the entire series after years of not watching them at all. “My perspective has changed from someone who’s immersed in it and living it on a daily basis,” he said. “To someone who has fond memories of it that are sort of blurry photographs and then re-watching and re-living it. I love the show so much now, in almost a better way now, because it’s pure.”

One reporter asked a question on behalf of two US Army soldiers serving in Afghanistan who are readers of her site as well as huge Firefly fans. She asked the panel why they think Firefly has such resonance with members of the military. Whedon was touched by the mention of the military fans that sent her with that question, and he said that he believed that its the show’s hopefulness with regard to people helping each other and exploring the vastness of space that allowed both military and astronauts alike to be among the show’s biggest fans. Tim Minear credited the appeal “to the notion that our characters are together, and the war is over. Like, there’s a life after the war that can be good.”

One of the more interesting quotes of the day came from Whedon, when a reporter, who brought up Star Trek as a more hopeful look at our future and Firefly as a less utopian one, asked him what he thinks Firefly says to us about our future. “We’re doomed? [laughs] I don’t have any faith in mankind, but I love my friends desperately, and the faith that I have is in their ability to band together when things are appalling and protect each other. That is the definition and biological reason for family. And created family is what I believe in. And so, no, I don’t think we’re gonna solve the problems and have the Federation…”

The most interesting part about this conference was how openly members of the panel were criticizing Fox. That probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but one always expects a bit of phony diplomacy at things like this. Yet, when the panel was discussing the Firefly marathon the Science Channel will be doing along with airing the documentary Browncoats Unite in a special 10th Anniversary Event this fall, Nathan Fillion praised the channel saying, “If Fox had aired Firefly the way the Science Channel is airing Firefly…It’s like they’re putting on a movie! The commercials make me weep!”

Minear was definitely the most vocal on that score. When someone asked whether Firefly might have been more successful if it had aired today in the age of heavy social media, while Whedon and Sean Maher said that it might have helped, Minear said, “I don’t. I don’t. Because you need a network that, for instance, airs the PILOT first! It doesn’t matter how many times you tweet about it, I mean, on some level the network has to be behind it, so unless you have that, you can tweet in vain, you can tweet all you can tweet.”

Whedon made sure to acknowledge Minear with regard to the success of the show saying, “I don’t think anybody in the history of the ten years since the show has been on, has really understood how much of it belongs to Tim Minear, and how much of it is his work.”

When someone asked the panel whether they thought that Firefly would withstand the test of time and appeal to future generations of fans, he said, “Yes. I say yes. Because we were right. The thing that we made was right. We were right about it, it was good, the network was wrong. The fans are correct, and it’s not just because it got cut down before its time, it’s because we were right, and that universe was fully realized very quickly, and [to Whedon] that’s because of you.”

The entire room agreed.

The Science Channel regularly airs Firefly, and the 10th Anniversary event featuring an all-day Firefly marathon, followed by the World Premiere of Browncoats Unite airs November 11th.

Teresa Jusino is one part Zoe’s ass-kicking and two-parts Kaylee’s optimism. Her Feminist Brown Person take on pop culture has been featured on websites like,, Newsarama, and 2012 will see Teresa’s work in two upcoming non-fiction anthologies, and her “Moffat’s Women” panel will be featured at Geek Girl Con in August! For more on her writing, Get Twitterpated with Teresa, “like” her on Facebook, or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.


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