The Women of Firefly/Serenity: Inara

Spoilers for Firefly/Serenity

Inara Serra is a Companion. According to Mal, that’s just a high-class prostitute; according to Inara and pretty much every other character, a Companion is like the glamorous older cousin to the Japanese Geisha (appropriate, given the series/movie uses a lot of references to eastern cultures). Sexual services are one of the many she provides as a companion – among others, a partner, conversationalist, confidante, listener, builder (not propper-up) of self-esteem. Her teaching and nursing skills are excellent.

She’s also one of the few beautiful female characters whose role required her to be beautiful. How many characters have we seen where the character was meant to be the average-looking girl-next-door type, as channelled through Cameron Diaz or Angelina Jolie? But Inara’s physical attraction is vital to her job, and it helps that, in contrast, Zoë and Kaylee are far less glamourous.

Because part of Inara’s job is to provide sexual services, she provides such a fascinating examination of sexuality, particularly female sexuality. In Inara’s case, she is very much in control of her sexuality and sees it as just another product to sell; the ultimate ideal for prostitution in general, I think, where sex can be bought and sold by men and women without ownership of the person coming into the equation. The companions have got themselves regulated into guilds which give them a tremendous amount of power to wield – among it, the power to command respect.

Even in the back corners of the Alliance, where the women aren’t registered and are, as Inara reluctantly corrects, “˜whores’ (a word, as a registered companion, she hates being referred to as), they still band together and present a united front – and fighting force – against men who see it as their right to use women for sex and then discard them.

We see this in Heart of Gold, where an unregistered ‘whore’ (Petaline) is being bullied into giving up her baby by the father, whose own wife is barren. Because Petaline is nothing more then a prostitute, he sees it as his right to do what he wants with her – and their baby.

And then there’s the episode where a spoilt heir likes to doll Inara up and show her off, but ultimately expects her total obedience. He doesn’t respect her, although he sure appreciates how good he can make her feel. But when he tries to bully her, Inara laughs at his threats to guarantee she never works again. It doesn’t work like that, she informs him; the guild chooses its clientele, not the other way around. Mr. Spoilt Chauvinist will have to rely on his charm and winning ways to get women from now on. It illustrates that for some, sellers of sex will never be respectable, but that those sellers of sex can command respect from most if they organise themselves.

Yes, Inara’s role is one that only a woman could play. But, I think, in the same way a mother is a role that only a woman could play, and a father is a role that only a man could play. Where Inara raises the standard is that she is a complex, fascinating character, a woman who is liberated in her sexuality – and helps to liberate some of the taboos about prostitution.

Comments

  1. Jose says

    Nice post. I’m not entirely in agreement with your last comment about Inara’s role being one that only a woman could play. I’m not that familiar with prostitution myself but there are plenty of male escorts who fulfill a similar function (both for men and women).

  2. scarlett says

    Maybe it’s my own perspective… as I said at the begining, Inara wasn’t JUST a prostitude; she was a partner, cofidante, conversationalist, builder (not propper-up) of self-esteem, teacher. Sexual services were, for many of her clients, the least of her talents. It was the ultimate nurturing, and empowering role, and she was so empowered in it. In my experience, women are perfectly capable of displaying such a range of talents, but I don’t know any men who could claim the same.

    I also felt that the way a female companion would approach a male client would be different to the way a male companion would approach a female client, and for that reason, her character couldn’t be transplanted wholesale (with superficial changes like substituting ‘he’ for ‘she’) into a man in the same way they could, say, Starbuck in BsG.I saw her character as being ultra-feminine, but still very empowered, particularly in a profession that has typically been incredibly DISempowering.

  3. Mecha says

    Hey, now isn’t that a bit sexist, that a man can’t be a Companion type? ;) If anything, the ‘nuturing/comforting’ idea that is being applied to her is working with the ‘mother’ stereotype, but taking it to an almost Great Mother concept. But instead of some sort of untouchable goddess, instead a real person. I see no reason to deny the possibility to men (and can think of at least a few fictional characters that pursue it, and a few real life ones that take on many of those aspects) except via application of the mother stereotype and society. (More on this in a few.)

    I agree a ‘male’ Companion and a ‘female’ Companion would definitely be different, in both reality and storytelling. For one, a ‘female’ companion gets to do what she did in the episode with that posessive rich guy: Play off the patriarichal concept of posession (as opposed to the ‘female’ counterpart of that position in ‘crazy emotional jealous woman’.) That’s a storytelling point, though. The differences between ‘male’ Companion and ‘female’ Companion in ‘reality’ are largely tied up in society’s concepts of male and female, though, and a female one is simply easier for people to believe. Consider: F-F is far more acceptable than M-M (big deal, considering how much of an emotional (and sexual) ambassador the Companion must be.) Men are seen as the primary sexual consumers (and primary nutjobs who need comfort.) Etc, etc. The approaches would be different, as you say, but those are functions of the hints of a patriarichal society that exist, and the beliefs that men are more sexual than women, etc.

    That all said, Inara is a wonderful character, and inspiring as a writer as well as a person. Very whole.

    -Mecha

  4. scarlett says

    I can see a male as a Companion, I’ve just seen no men in my life personally who had the potential to furfill a job with such a wide range of demands where I’ve seen plenty of women who had that potential.

    I also would have love to see somone (anyone? can you hear me?) pull off a male equivilant to a Companion (inc M/M). My point was that I think it would take a LOT of character changes to make the character believable.

    I think in terms of sexuality, men and women are fairly different. They have the potential to be equal, but always different. Which is why I say you couldn’t transplant Inara wholesale in the same way you could someone like Starbuck.

    Untimately I want to see a point where women are just as much sexual consumers as men are, just in different ways. I want to see Male Companions who are different, but equal, to Inara. (Scarlett scurries off to enjoy her pipe dream.)

  5. Mecha says

    I would too. *chuckle* Unfortunately, RP doesn’t count, for me.

    I think it would take ‘changes’, but the question of how much sorta strikes at equality issues, in my mind. Why couldn’t a man be as softly affectionate towards Kaylee as Inara? Why couldn’t a man challenge Mal like Inara? (Hint: Mal? Gay? What?) And the larger question: How much does it take for a character to change sex?

    Sexuality is the largest block, I agree, in my mind, so a character who is inherently sexual is harder to ‘switch’… but what if you switched the ENTIRE cast’s gender? Is that a more fair comparison? Is Inara’s role impossible if all the people she has to play on are of the ‘proper’ gender? (Jayne’s joke about being in his bunk when the women are implying lesbianism becomes far more personally amusing with a gender switch. ‘Hoyay’, or something.) I’m tempted to say ‘no’, because I really do chalk most of it up to societal expectations of sexuality and male-female relationships. The hardest thing they’d have to do is make sure that the ‘male’ Companion is not _dominating_. But that’s nowhere near impossible. The message, however, would be far different. So it goes, I s’pose.

    Pipe dream for the real world… yeah, there’s some waiting there. Sci-fi, possibly. But who’s gonna write it? At least you don’t have to worry about making it _more_ mainstream than Firefly, because Firefly is already a small audience. Managing a successful cult 13 ep show would be more than enough. ^_~

    -Mecha

  6. Jennifer Kesler says

    I can’t decide if I agree or disagree with Scarlett’s feeling that big changes would be required to make Inara male, but I think I get what she’s saying, and it boils down to personal perspective.

    But here’s another color to stir into the mix: what if we’d gotten to see a male companion emerging later in the series, and being surprisingly similar to Inara and the other female ones we’ve met. Had it stayed on, that might well have happened, and it could’ve been very ground-breaking.

  7. scarlett says

    I think it would take more adjustments to make Inara male then it would to make, say, Starbuck (2004 series) or Ellen Ripley male.

    Ah… a male companion, if Firefly had lasted that long… Scarlett is tired (it’s 420am here) and goes to bed dreaming of such equality…

  8. Jose says

    I think the hypothetical situation about male companions already exsists in tourist hotspots in several developing countries. One of these accounts has already been fictionalized in book and film “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”. Although in this case it was basicaly a con job, the man who transformed this woman’s life was basicaly a gay man playing a role (although it isn’t clear whether or not he was a con artist, the real story seems to be quite complicated). That might seem like an isolated example but I know plenty of women who have such lovers abroad, to the women it seems like much more than sex but to the men I suspect it’s little more than money.

    I seem men and women as more alike than you do. Most of the differences we see are cultural, traditional and economic groves not some kind of predetermined biological destiny.

  9. Mecha says

    I do too, but my point is that that’s societal, both internally (for the story) and externally (for the viewers.) Men and women can be soldiers. So such a switch is ‘easy’, especially in the de-sexualised military environment. People more or less buy that nowadays. In contrast, men and women can _not_ have relationships with the same people, in the same ways, especially if they’re anything more than ‘professional’ (in the platonic sense of professional) in modern society. Especially in a sexualized environment. Two men is different from two women is different from a man and a woman in pretty much any situation you care to name when sexuality enters the picture.

    Even in Firefly the characters acted suitably shocked when one of Inara’s clients was female. One of the few series that actually DIDN’T get shocked about lesbianism was Deep Space 9, where Dax and another Trill who were married in a past life (when they were male/female) deal with the same issues of love when they’re now both male, _and nobody cares_. That is stunning, but there’s no way that would have passed if they were male.

    I guarantee that you could write the character. You could even write the equivalent situation. But you could never _sell_ it because, among other things, there is no such thing as a ‘soft’ male homoerotic overtone in our society. There is more lesbianism, for whatever reason, then male homosexuality/bisexuality, in modern society, and that is perhaps the single strongest block to a male Inara. Because caring and being a good listener and all the things we give to Inara, and that some of us can aspire to in our relationships? Aren’t just female qualities. So ultimately, I believe that while it would take more ‘work’, all the work is not on the character (the character would be, by contrast, easy: We’ve already got him defined!), and _everything_ on the environment and surroundings, because the male companion is a larger break with stereotype than a female companion, and not just in the character themselves.

    Like I intimated before. Inara makes it because she personifies an ideal of the perfect mature woman. Scarlett even hints towards this in how it’s a role only a woman can play, just like a ‘mother’. And it doesn’t make her any less of a great character. But it points out how playing within the stereotypes still gets you by, even in something as important as having a woman with personal and sexual autonomy.

    And, again, it would send a vastly different message, male companion versus female companion. And that makes it probably the biggest change of all.

    (My, I do talk a lot, don’t I?)

    -Mecha

  10. Mecha says

    Sigh. Sub ‘both female’ for ‘both male’ above in the DS9 Trill discussion. Too much typing makes for mistakes.

    -Mecha

  11. hegar says

    I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the character of Inara. Partially, I know it’s because I just find her to be an irritating character (sometimes whedon’s characters are great; eg spike, the rest of firefly cast and sometimes they annoy the heck out of me; eg buffy summers, pretty much the entire cast of angel – bar lorne and wesley)
    Regarding male companions, there were some male prostitutes in Heart of Gold when kaylee makes the comment “Oh look, they’ve even got boy-whores, aint that considerate”, or something to that effect.
    I think that one of the reasons that they can have male prostitutes, but not full fledged male companions is that while female prostitution can be glorified (as is the case in the character of Inara), it’s difficult in our culture to glorify male prostitution.
    The only thing that comes to mind is that Deuce Bigalow film, which i admit i haven’t seen, but it seemed to me that even in this kind of stupid comedy, the portrayl of the life of a male prostitute was one of degrading sexual servitude.
    It seems to me that more status and social acceptance is accorded to the man who pays for sex than to the man who is payed for it.
    The only reason I can see for this situation is that there is still the idea floating around in our culture that doing nothing but having sex with men is a natural and acceptable way for women to spend their time. This idea allows people with a more progressive agenda (such as whedon) to create strong, empowered, in control female prostitures (such as Inara) and have audiences accept them. I think it would be more difficult to create a ‘male Inara’ that wider audiences would respond well to because i get the idea that no matter how glamorous, a lot of people would expect a male character to ‘do something more worthwhile with his life’.

    I think this is another reason I’m not really comfortable with Inara – no matter how strong and independent she may appear I always feel that she ties into some kind of ideas about women and prostitution that I don’t agree with.

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    You’re scaring me – this is something else I agree about. I liked the idea of a Companion, but I was frustrated that it was not only a female, but an excessively feminine role. As I see it, the reason it’s less cool for a man to be a hooker than a woman is some cultural mindset which dictates that the person who “gives” sex is always the loser to the one who “takes” it, even if the giver gets financially wealthy off the experience.

    Even this enlightened view of prostitution – more a form of sexual therapy, really – remained relegated to the feminine. And so I had rather mixed feelings about the character. And I took offense at Mal continually calling her a whore when part of their agreement in her shuttle rental had been for him to stop doing that. I didn’t find it romantic that she fell for him, even though he clearly refused to show her that much respect. She didn’t particularly respect what he did for a living, either, but she didn’t harrass him constantly.

    I read something which I’ve been unable to confirm: someone claiming to have attented a seminar with one of the show’s producer said the producer stated that one of the things they’d planned to do, had the show run longer, was have Inara be raped by a gang of Reavers, only it turns out she has an STD that kills them all. This was supposedly why she had a syringe in one of the episodes – she could inject herself with something the control the STD, but once her injection ran out it would become lethal again. Had this storyline actually occurred, it would have been unforgiveable to me. But please do keep in mind, this is a third-hand story. I’m only sharing it as an example of the sort of bad potentials I sensed.

  13. Gategrrl says

    Hegar’s post reminded me of “Boogie Nights” – and how it was, essentially, about the prostitution of young people for a ‘family’ that produces sex films. It’s starts out happy and with lots of good times for the main character (a guy) but devolves over time for him realizing he has nothing but his large endowment of penis; he’s ‘reduced’ to whacking off (and having sex with, it’s implied) for other males. It’s only in the latter part of the film that you see he’s starting to understand his humiliation.

    The female characters in the film, with the exception of the very young Rollerskater Girl, seem to realize much earlier where their place is in the larger society and how they fit in. Rollerskater Girl is the only one to be seen having second thoughts about her role in the sex industry, and ends up going back to school.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve watched “Boogie Nights” – but I found it a fascinating fable, almost, of how working in the sex industry affects the people in it. And Burt Reynolds was amazing in it as well.

    I found it interesting that NONE of the characters in the film, also, condoned nor supported one of the sex movie producer’s inclination for child porn. They have their own lines they will not cross. He’s shown in the end in a prison cell as a big black prisoner’s bitch.

    It’s been a long while since I’ve watched my “Firefly” DVDs, or “Serenity”. Whedon’s characters do tend to be more ‘complete’ than many other’s, but there was a little too much OTP between Mal and Inara – but I did love how that trope was played with in a very famous scene where his female second-in-command deals with her husband’s insecurities (ie, he thinks she and Mal have a “thing”) by telling Mal, “Take me sir, take me *hard*”. That at least turns that cliche of the lead male and female having to get together.

    As for Inara…I wondered why the hell there was even that concept in there – except that Whedon based a lot of the culture on Chinese/Asian culture, in which (at least) in Japanese culture, geishas, women hired by men to be cultured mistresses were raised from childhood. There’s a tradition there that I didn’t feel comfortable with translated into what was essentially a Western culture, in which the trope is cheap whores in saloons in the Old West. High Culture and Low Culture.

    There simply wasn’t enough cultural background-weaving to make everything work, at least in the first and only season that was produced.

  14. scarlett says

    I’m just watching the DVDs for a third time, and I’m begining to understand why feminist communities have a problem with Inara. I didn’t have a problem with the Geisha-elements of being a companion – Geishas in their truest form are known for being confidantes, mentors, friends, teachers and nurses as well as lovers, it’s been suggested that a couple had a hand in WWII policy – but that they kept saying being a Companion was such an honorable jobb, all the while Mal’s calling her a whore.

    It’s been a while since I wrote this article, and I think I’d be a lot more critical if I was writing it today. There’s something about Inara that ISN’T secure in her sexuality and her right to sell her sexuality, for all that she says so.

  15. Jennifer Kesler says

    There simply wasn’t enough cultural background-weaving to make everything work, at least in the first and only season that was produced.

    Exactly. The concept could work, but it didn’t in this case.

    There’s something about Inara that ISN’T secure in her sexuality and her right to sell her sexuality, for all that she says so.

    As I keep watching I’ll look for examples to back this up. Because I get that sense too, and I can’t quite pin down precisely why I feel that way.

  16. scarlett says

    In one episode, she tells a client that she chooses her clients because they have something special about them – so why did she choose Atherton? Why did she do the OPT thing with Mal? If Inara was really in control of her sexuality, she would have recognised Atherton was a spoilt, controlling heir who she would never have gotten involved with, and that Mal just didn’t know what he wanted. I can’t imagine someone who has such control of her sexaulity and such good instincts about people falling for such tripe.

  17. Gategrrl says

    Well, Inara may pick and choose, but everyone has to pay the bills, especially when they have the chance. Plus, at the end, didn’t little Mr Spoilt stand up to his Big Daddy? Perhaps Inara saw something in him worth bolstering; and it couldn’t hurt to have the son of a big wig in the area behind you.

  18. Jennifer Kesler says

    Gategrrl, I think that’s a different ep you’re thinking of (where the young kid takes crap from his dad, and has to stand up to him). In this ep, she got nothing out of it but the money, and she had a large number of other clients she could have chosen on that trip.

    What’s worse: she’d been with this guy before. I seriously doubt he was enlightened then and got worse later, so it really leaves you wondering if she has any savvy at all about men.

  19. Gategrrl says

    Oh, this is a different episode from that? Oops. I really *must* go back and rewatch.

    Who wrote that episode? Or, who was listed as the writer?

  20. Jennifer Kesler says

    Shindig (the one I was talking about) was written by Jane Espenson. And even scarier, it aired later (sequentially) than it appears on the DVD’s, placing it after even MORE evidence that Inara can talk her way around some real jackasses. But I can’t blame the individual writer here: I don’t think the story team was having meetings about Inara and who she was and how she fit into the ‘verse – I suspect they were having meetings about Inara and who she was to Mal and how she fit into Mal’s ‘verse.

    The episode you’re thinking of is Jaynetown written by Ben Edlund. The main plot is where they go to a town that thinks Jayne is a hero because he dumped money on them by accident. Meanwhile, Inara is contracted by the mean local magistrate to bed his son who’s 26 and a virgin, or “not yet a man” according to his father. He’s the one who stands up to his dad, enabling Serenity to escape from a trap.

    Unfortunately, this plot which had some potential gets minimal screentime. Aside from a cursory remark or two about there being nothing shameful about being a virgin and sex not making you grown up, it’s basically just a plot device and an opportunity to have Inara wax on about Mal a bit before she realizes it’s Jayne the magistrate’s after.

    You know, I’m starting to see that whatever she could’ve been was totally sacrificed on the altar of ship. It’s all about how she relates to Mal. That’s bad enough when it’s a female character with a lifestyle and career we’re used to seeing; it’s especially problematic with a woman who’s supposed to be a respected sex worker except people keep not respecting her. Gah.

  21. MaggieCat says

    Thread resurrection because I stumbled on this again while looking for something else…

    I guarantee that you could write the character. You could even write the equivalent situation. But you could never _sell_ it because, among other things, there is no such thing as a ’soft’ male homoerotic overtone in our society. There is more lesbianism, for whatever reason, then male homosexuality/bisexuality, in modern society, and that is perhaps the single strongest block to a male Inara. Because caring and being a good listener and all the things we give to Inara, and that some of us can aspire to in our relationships? Aren’t just female qualities. So ultimately, I believe that while it would take more ‘work’, all the work is not on the character (the character would be, by contrast, easy: We’ve already got him defined!), and _everything_ on the environment and surroundings, because the male companion is a larger break with stereotype than a female companion, and not just in the character themselves.

    …And it suddenly occurred to me that not only could I think of several men I’ve met in real life who could probably pull off an Inara type role, but on television there’s already been a very similar character that received the highest ratings ever for a drama on BBC Three at the time, got immediately re-aired on BBC One, and was impressive enough to be selected as the season premiere for Masterpiece Theatre in 2006: Russell T. Davies’s version of Casanova.

    Taking Scarlett’s list from above:

    Inara wasn’t JUST a prostitute; she was a partner, confidante, conversationalist, builder (not propper-up) of self-esteem, teacher. Sexual services were, for many of her clients, the least of her talents.

    It’s not a direct analog so I’ll be avoiding the client references, but the rest of it fits to a T. After arriving in Venice without a cent Casanova’s surviving entirely on charm, wit, intelligence, and his ability to be whatever someone needs at that moment. Need a doctor, a lawyer, an astrologer? Give him a day and a pile of books and he can pull it off, without turning into an arrogant blowhard. People who initially held him in contempt can’t help elevating him to their own social level and beyond because he is just *that* entertaining, likable, and generally indispensable.

    Casanova’s infamous love life is what you start watching the serial expecting, but then it breaks down the myth and shows the depth of human compassion that exists there as well. The middle-aged woman who’s gloriously happy because Casanova introduced her to the love of her life. The wealthy priest whose life he saves– and it wasn’t just guilt because he caused the poor man’s heart attack while he was giving confession, but genuine concern for the fact that the team of doctors is planning something more akin to torture than treatment, he intervenes even knowing that he’ll be hanged for murder if the priest dies. After spending ages watching over the priest day and night, he winds up being adopted as the man’s heir, something he initially refuses even knowing that money will enable him to marry the woman he truly loves, because such care and compassion was the only the course of action he could imagine taking. Bellino, a character we’re initially introduced to as a man who’s in fact a woman impersonating a castrati who Casanova sponsors as a performer and then eventually gives the encouragement to come clean about her identity and then gives her the support to become one of the most famous performers in Europe with her own identity, not one that’s borrowed and false.

    Even the astronomical number of conquests works because they’re not conquests. If I’m not mistaken, the first sex scene is two sisters (go with it for a second) who sought him out unexpectedly after chaperoning his courting of their younger sister and saw something in him that none of the other men chasing their sister had: that he was actually trying to talk to her as another person rather than simply bragging about his own wealth and power, even if it made him sound a bit of an idiot because said sister was about as easy to engage in conversation as an unusually boring sheep. And it’s one of them who tells him the thing that leads to all later relationships with women; she asks just what he *really* knows about her, and he goes down the list of family and noble position and blah blah blah, and she corrects him that he’s talking about her father, not her. She wants to get out of Venice, travel, become a painter. But no one’s ever asked her because women are meant to be the receptive adoring audience, not the ones who focus attention on themselves.

    It’s what makes the whole piece hold together, giving that epiphany to someone who’s capable of understanding it, at that time in that place of course there are going to be women queueing up around the block for the man with the healthy enough ego to sit back and admire their thoughts and accomplishments for a change. It’s made clear that as an old man he remembers each and every one of those women: names, faces, personalities, hopes and dreams and all. It’s even more obvious later with Casanova’s son Jack, who saw the constant stream of women and the disregard for social conventions, but wound up cruel and sadistic and perverse because he doesn’t have one whit of Giacomo’s compassion or kindness.

    Whether or not the same show would ever have gotten made in the US, the same country that created Inara, is another matter entirely though.

  22. says

    Wow, Maggie, that’s fascinating. Instead of the usual writer attitude of “Well, of course he hooked up with more bitchez than I did because he treated ‘em like garbage” it sounds like these writers looked into what really made him tick and found that he gave women the sort of attention women REALLY want, and the women responded in kind.

    You know, that’s something I’d love to review (or see you review) in direct contrast to my post about the misogynistic man who always gets the women being a myth. I think men who “score” a lot often do so because they are one man in a million who really listens to women the same way they listen to men.

    If all the little whiny “nice guys” would realize that and start learning it themselves instead of maligning the other guys, it would be less rare and its affect on women would become less blunted. I mean, imagine if you were treated like you had a brain on a routine basis! /rolleyes

  23. MaggieCat says

    It’s pretty widely available on DVD if you wanted to hunt up a copy. I highly recommend it, obviously. (Even if the blue contacts the made David Tennant wear in order to play the younger Casanova to Peter O’Toole’s older version are odd looking in brightly lit scenes.) It’s so much fun.

    (And if you watch Doctor Who there are a couple of actors who showed up in this Davies/Tennant production a few years before turning up on Who: Rocco, Casanova’s valet/best friend/person in charge of being generally awesome is played by Shaun Parkes who was Zach in “The Impossible Planet” and “The Satan Pit”, and Bellino is played by Nina Sosanya who played Chloe’s mother in “Fear Her”.)

  24. MaggieCat says

    You know, I thought about reviewing it when I first saw it but I hadn’t quite coalesced how it was relevant to the site’s statement until I was writing up that comment, and was afraid that maybe the only reason I wanted to cover it is because it’s so frothy and fun that it actually makes you a little giddy to watch. I may have found my way in now.

    Instead of the usual writer attitude of “Well, of course he hooked up with more bitchez than I did because he treated ‘em like garbage” it sounds like these writers looked into what really made him tick and found that he gave women the sort of attention women REALLY want, and the women responded in kind.

    I continue to be astonished at how in spite of his apparent fondness for some juvenile humour that really doesn’t appeal to me much, RTD regularly creates just so many brilliant female characters who aren’t all pale repetitive copies of one pretty good one that works, and it might be even more impressive that he manages to expect all of his other characters to relate to them in the same way he does. It would be so easy to disregard the women as interchangeable and leave them underdeveloped with source material like this, but even though no one woman is onscreen for a large part of the time they’re still important, and reflected in the fact that in a way almost everything that’s wonderful about this Casanova character, he was because of the women who made him that way. How often does THAT happen?

    (Of course this is the man who confirmed Shakespeare as bisexual in a show where a large portion of the audience is made up of children. Maybe nothing should be surprising after that.)

  25. Maria says

    Jen, I think you’re right on about the content of the writers’ meetings. Even in *Heart of Gold,* which should have centered on Inara and her friend from Companion school who dropped out, both Inara and her’s emotional reactions are all used to illustrate important things about Mal.

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