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100 Sci Fi Women #7: Inara Serra

OK everyone – still looking for any suggestions you may have: email me at

Inara Serra


Inara doesn’t exactly qualify as an action hero, but that doesn’t mean she can’t handle herself, as we see when she has to teach Captain Mal to fence. Like everything that we mourn about the premature passing of Firefly, Inara is smart, funny and beautiful (except Jayne – he wasn’t beautiful, or smart really, but he was funny). Inara’s beautiful character full of empathy could have been an annoying one, but instead she is also tough and smart with a hidden history we never got to learn enough about. Stunning enough to seduce anyone, she backed up her beauty with much more important qualities like intelligence and poise and the ability to read others – all talents learnt through her studies to be a companion. An independent woman of stature who doesn’t take crap from the Captain, Inara breaks the whore/madonna duality because, despite the fact that, as a companion, she is, in the basest terms, a “whore” she does not fill the traditional requirements of that role.  And who could have resisted being one of her clients?

Inara:  “What did I say to you about barging into my shuttle?”

Mal: “That it was manly and impulsive?”

Inara: “Yes, precisely. Only the exact phrase I used was ‘don’t’.”

6 responses to “100 Sci Fi Women #7: Inara Serra

  1. Vancian Notions ⋅

    Samantha Carter. Agent Scully. Various female superheroes (although their being science fiction or not may be debateable). Various Dr Who women, although again depends what you are going for; a lot of them were very skilled ‘run and scream’ers, but that might not fit!

    More thoughts later.

  2. No no, there is only one woman in Firefly, her name is Summer Glau and she is hot *ouch*

    Inara is a pretty contradictory character I think, I still have trouble reconciling prostitution with maintaining self respect and dignity but Joss does a pretty good job of selling the idea with the companion concept by making the vocation have a kind of spiritual and emotional role so that it becomes like a kind of relationship. I guess the moral ambiguity is part of the whole drama of her character.

    Anyway, I’m glad you pointed out that there are more than one interesting female characters in Firefly who deserve some admiration.

    • godardsletterboxes ⋅

      I pretty much love all the characters on Firefly – and all the women resist the usual female stereotypes in one way or another – so over the course of the next 90 or so I think we’ll see River and Zoe and Kaylee all make an appearance. But I thought I would go with the less obvious one first. And I did love Inara.

  3. Vancian Notions ⋅

    Definately love some Inara, not least because she is blisteringly hot.

    But she does manage /Joss manages to make it so that despite the fact that she is called a whore at every opportunity by Mal, and is, indeed, someone who gets paid for sex, she isn’t really what we westerners would tend to think of when we say ‘prostitute’. (for starters, she is actually good looking, although that might just be the fact that everyone on TV is good looking.)

    She is, in many ways, more a Geisha than a traditional western hooker; her clients get a lot of tea ceremonies which you woulddn’t from a western prostitute, unless, possibly, you paid quite a lot extra and were a little weird.

    There is also the fact that she (completely) chooses her clients – which again quite radically shifts the traditional western paradigm.

    • godardsletterboxes ⋅

      I think the choice of clients bit, and the putting the control in the hands of the companion is the part which does radically redefine the position. And clients compete strenuously for favours. It is an interesting approach.

      • Vancian Notions ⋅

        Well, lets face it – I’d compete pretty hard for Inara’s favours.

        I think the other thing which changes the role quite a bit (although obviously it’s not unique in film) is Inara’s extreme education and inteligence; she’s pretty much the only person on the ship who is both highly inteligent and has her emotional shit more-or-less togetjer.

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