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The Firefly Scene That Aged Poorly

Joss Whedon's 2002 sci-fi television series "Firefly" was unceremoniously cancelled by Fox after only 11 episodes aired, but impressive DVD sales and passionate fan campaigns showed how strongly viewers had connected to the short-lived drama (via Wired). A 2005 film, "Serenity," was even made in order to continue the story.

Set in a distant future where humans have colonized the galaxy's planets, "Firefly" focuses on Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), the (mostly) competent captain of the ship Serenity. A bitter veteran of a civil war between the centralized Alliance government and independent colonies, Mal now pulls whatever jobs he can to get by without the Alliance. Joining him are his second-in-command, Zoe (Gina Torres); Zoe's husband and Serenity's pilot, Wash (Alan Tudyk); traveling Companion Inara (Morena Baccarin); the religious Shepherd Book; mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite); and mercenary Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin). On board too are the mysterious Simon and River Tam (Sean Maher and Summer Glau), both on the run from the government for increasingly complicated reasons.

"Firefly" is nearly two decades old, so not all of it has aged well. One running bit, in particular, doesn't really feel right in the modern era.

There's no reason for Malcolm to hurl slurs at Inara

Sex workers have gotten the short end of the stick for years now on television. Numerous programs have made jokes at their expense, and in a time where more and more people have called for the decriminalization of sex work around the United States, those jokes really leave a bad taste in your mouth. 

"Firefly" was not immune to this treatment, and when rewatching the show today, it's kind of astonishing how many poor-taste jokes are made. You see, Inara works as a Companion prior to joining the Serenity, which is basically the 26th-century equivalent of a mistress combined with a courtesan. Once she hops aboard the Serenity, she enjoys some of the most heated romantic tension with Malcolm in television history, but that doesn't forgive the language Mal uses to refer to Inara — right off the bat, during the show's pilot episode, the captain introduces Morena Baccarin's character to a man of the cloth by stating "She's a whore, Shep."  

Frequently throughout the show's run, Mal refers to Inara in similar terms. It's implied in the series that Mal uses that language because he disapproves of the work she does as a Companion, but that's no excuse for hurling hurtful language toward her, especially when one considers the level of civility and dignity bestowed upon Companions in this universe. 

You can watch all of "Firefly," including the three unaired episodes, on Hulu.