In the ever-growing conversations surrounding separating the art from the artist, Joss Whedon's name understandably gets thrown around quite a bit. The filmmaker once most well known for his seemingly unshakable feminist credentials now only makes headlines when more details of his abusive on-set behavior emerge.

Despite this, Whedon is responsible for creating some of TV's greatest shows, including my all-time favorite "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." That series may be his magnum opus, but it's "Firefly" that has endured to a rather shocking extent. The Fox show left an indelible mark on pop culture, particularly when considering it only aired 11 of 14 episodes before being unceremoniously canceled. "Firefly" may have come and gone in 2002, but it still managed to receive a feature-length film to wrap up its story, comic continuations, and a fanbase that never seems to give up hope of its return — though the revelations about Whedon make this less likely than ever.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was born of the desire to give power to the petite blonde who was constantly dying in horror movies. Thankfully, this gave us one of television's most treasured fictional female icons in Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar). However, the idea for "Firefly" sprang from something based more on history than movie tropes: a book Whedon read on the Civil War.

'The Minutiae Of Life Way Back Then'

In a 2002 interview, Whedon explained that his inspiration for "Firefly" came from reading "The Killer Angels." The 1974 novel by Michael Shaara centers on three days of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, as well as some of the time leading up to it. Whedon said:

"I got obsessed with the minutiae of life way back then, early frontier life and when things were not as convenient as they are now. We wanted to do a show in the future that had a sense of history, that we don't solve all our problems and have impeccably clean spaceships."

"Firefly" follows the crew aboard the spaceship Serenity as they do their best to avoid trouble while traversing the 'verse. Our heroes are a ragtag group of smugglers led by Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). Reynolds' time in the Unification War, as well as his right-hand woman Zoë's (Gina Torres), greatly informs who both are as characters. They were on the losing side of the war and the Battle of Serenity Valley, which largely sealed their fate, is what Mal chose to name his spaceship after.

"Firefly" does indeed distinguish itself from other sci-fi shows and much of that is due to the way the world of this space Western is fleshed out. It's true that despite the future setting, life in the 'verse isn't easy. This is especially true for those who would've given their lives to defeat the Alliance, which remains very much in control.

Who Are The Browncoats?

Whedon's inspiration for the show can make you wonder. Who exactly is who in this conflict? Some fans have compared the Browncoats to the Confederacy and while I understand the thought process, I just don't think 19th-century American politics figure so much into this futuristic interplanetary war. There was obviously an interest on Whedon's part to explore post-war existence from the side of those who lost, but I doubt that means there is a direct parallel between our beloved Browncoats and Confederate soldiers beyond that. People love to root for an underdog and there are plenty of great space stories focusing on a band of rebels.

I've also seen some fans refer to Serenity's crew as the villains of the piece, which is wild! They may be criminals, but they are also undoubtedly our heroes. We know Mal and co. are fighting a corrupt system, though ultimately, we don't know much about the dreaded Alliance, save what we're told by them. You can make an argument that the heroes are actually the villains of a lot of well-known tales since so much of storytelling is all about perspective.

History may be written by the victors, but the story of "Firefly" is narrated entirely by the losers. We root for them no matter what, because we love these characters. Browncoats unite!

Read this next: The 20 Best Westerns Of All Time

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