Today we tackle a question of monumental importance to the Geek community:
Why was Buffy so popular but Firefly, a show about space pirate cowboys, was not? Is it a conspiracy?
The simple answer to your question, is yes there is a conspiracy. If in doubt, there is usually a conspiracy. People love getting together behind other people’s backs and concocting sinister plots for no purpose other than to make people cry; especially children, though clearly some people also love to make Geeks cry.
Buffy began its epic ascent into pop culture history with the movie in 1992. Some Buffy fans don’t have much love for the movie (including Joss himself for entirely valid reasons), but they obviously don’t fully appreciate Pee-Wee Herman as a vampire. Joss wasn’t able to truly implement his vision of Buffy until the television series in 1997, which not only helped to solidify his career, but also helped put a brand new TV station on the map: The WB.
Most of us probably associate The WB with vomit-inducing teen dramas like Dawson’s Creek and 7th Heaven, but Buffy shared a lot with these shows, particularly their teenage audience. As a result, Buffy and the The WB had both found their target demographic. The show appealed not only to socially awkward Geek teens playing D&D in the basement, but also to anyone interested in a bunch of overly-dramatic teenage shenanigans (which pretty much covers every teenager).
Buffy never achieved true popularity according to the “Big 4” Network standards, hitting #120 on the ratings at its height of popularity, but this was more than enough for a blossoming network. It could have been a complete flop, but it soldiered on and found its place in our hearts. Buffy’s success then, can mainly be attributed to the fact that The WB as a new network had low standards, and was really good at taking advantage of teenagers.
Firely on the other hand, was a show that should have been successful, but wasn’t. And when I say it should have been, I don’t simply mean I wanted it to be, I mean that it could have lasted for a good many years if it wasn’t for its mismanagement at the hands of one of the worst broadcasting networks in the history of television.
Fox television is a complete travesity for a number of reasons, not least of which was ruining one of the greatest television shows ever created (yes, I love Firefly that much). But really, I suppose you can’t expect much from a network that’s owned by a man that serves on the board of directors for a Libertarian organization. Anyone that allows Ayn Rand to influence their ideological and politcal beliefs has deeper issues than simply being an incompetant CEO.
The problems began before the show even started, with Fox insisting that the intended Pilot episode be discarded, forcing Joss to air episodes out of order (and they continued to do this throughout the series life). The group of geniuses that Fox is composed of decided that following the plot was less important than wowing their audience with action and explosions. From the beginning, Fox was pushing for action and comedy, ignoring the fact that Joss was trying to create a more complex character-driven story. On top of this they frequently preempted it in favor of sports.
So, let’s review the problems:
1) You couldn’t actually follow the plot
2) They advertised and marketed for it terribly
3) You never knew when the damn show would actually be on
Sounds like a plan for success if I ever heard one! But the real question is why? Why would they do this? Why would they sign on a show and then fuck it up? What the hell was the point?
I think the answer to this questions makes itself readily apparent if we take a closer look at Joss Whedon. Joss has expressed a number of personal views publicly, which have made him a target for Fox:
All of these things combined mean that Fox hates Joss. All of his ideals are principles that oppose everything the network and its CEO stand for. They support the Republican and Conservative politcal agendas, which adhere to ideals we can distill down to the following:
1) They think God is awesome
2) They hate women
3) They place more value on individual success rather than the success of humanity
4) They think they actually know things
When we break things down in this manner, it becomes clear that the cancellation of Firefly was nothing more than a conspiracy by the politcal right. Their only goal is to make life miserable for everyone that isn’t a rich, white, Christian man. Joss eptimozes everything they despise, and many of his philosphical ideals played out in his artistic endevours. By taking on Firefly, Fox tried to ensure that it would never succeed.
What Fox didn’t take into account was the tenacity of Geeks. We know what’s good. We know what like, and not even Republicans can take it away from us. In 2008 Firefly hit #1 on Amazon DVD sales. Kiss Joss Whedons’ ass Fox.
The Dungeon Master
We need more questions! Please submit if you love us.
If you wish to submit a question to the Dungeon Master, please e-mail them to email@example.com, or you can Tweet me a question by hash-tagging me (#askthedm) in your Tweet. And make sure to review the disclaimer.
You can also see me in action in One Die Short.