Firefly&Serenity, where are the Chinese?

The characters speak a mix of English and Chinese, they curse in Chinese!

I forgot where I saw it said or speculated that The Alliance was some kind of alliance between the USA and China, I dunno if I buy that.

Some speculation I’ve seen is that at some point in the shows future China becomes the major super power nation, and that much like the settling of the western US settlers were poor people which explains the cast. But that makes no sense, you don’t even see any ethnically Chinese people on Alliance cruisers or rich worlds like Ariel.

So did they ever explain what was the deal?

You’re definitely not the first to wonder that, and it does look very weird to see a galaxy populated by, apparently, invisible Chinese people.

My guess is that it probably has more to do with the fact that only 1.2% of the US population, i.e. the population from which Firefly was drawing its actors, has Chinese ancestry. And that probably the number of Chinese-Americans who act in American sci-fi television shows and/or are buddies with Joss Whedon is even smaller. It would have been nice to see Firefly reach out and try to find new talent in the Chinese-American community, but it didn’t happen.

I do recall seeing a quote saying that Kaylee was intended to be played by a Chinese-American actress, but that Jewel Staite was too good to turn down at her audition.

The main problem was 14 episodes. We hardly got a chance to see anything, much less the main Alliance worlds like Londinium and Sihnon.

The Chinese was “taken out”.

There were Chinese people at the port on Persephone in the pilot episode. That of course doesn’t explain the lack of Chinese people with speaking parts.

But on the other hand, I imagine the budget was such that they couldn’t afford to be picky about which actors they got. Had the show taken off, the second season might have had more room to play with the world building.

It is pointed out that the Tams have a Chinese surname, and if you squint at them in poor lighting, they have features that could hint at Asian ancestry if you were looking for it.

But yeah, I’m assuming that the Chinatown on any given world was located behind the camera guy in any given shot, or that our gang of mostly white criminals were generally taking care to avoid said areas for various reasons.

The Firefly story is set five hundred years in the future, in a completely different star system. The USA and China are long gone, forgotten except by a few scholars of ancient history; planet Earth itself is semi-mythical. The cultural melding occurred during the long (sub-lightspeed) voyage to the new system; at the time of the story that too is history.

The people you see in the show are the “Chinese” you’re looking for, or their descendants, to the extent that there’s any to be seen.

Also, just because the China had a huge cultural and political influence on the Alliance, doesn’t mean that the Chinese make up a sizable part of the population. Maybe the Verse was settled by American colonists sent into space by the Chinese-dominant government of Earth-That-Was who wanted to make room in North America for settlement by ethnic Chinese, and when Earth-That-Was became uninhabitable, the less-desirable whites already had an overwhelming majority in space.

I seem to remember Joss saying that if the show had gone on, they would’ve spent more time exploring the Chinese influence on this universe.

They’re hiding. Very crafty, those chinamen…

Joss expains it briefly in the bonus section of the DVD Serenity,but I don’t remember what he said.

The dominant culture in the Alliance was a melding of those of the People’s Republic of China and United States which occurred over the course of the long voyage from Earth-that-Was, though other cultures, such as Muslims and Native Americans are also part of the social fabric.

From the Firefly wiki.

As far as canon goes (assuming Word of Joss doesn’t count), there’s the clear Chinese influence on language and the fact that the Alliance flag is shown to be a sort of melding of the US and PRC flags.

Impatient Chinese secret, huh?

From what I’ve heard, Kaylee was originally written as being asian, but Jewel Staite’s audition won Whedon over.

It never bothered me because, as the colonial empires show, it’s entirely possible to have vast regions in the hinterlands where, although people speak the lingua franca, they are not French, as it were. I assumed Chinese were on top of the pyramid and Firefly mostly happens on the fringes. That and the only 14 episodes thing.

This bothered me too. I don’t mind the Chinese influence in principle, but it always sort of rubbed me the wrong way given the dearth of Asian actors on the show. Kinda made the Firefly solar system feel like it was colonized primarily by Caucasian Sinophiles.

Because Hollywood is wildly bigoted against Asians, & always has been.

No joke.

My fan-wank?
The frontier worlds are settled by round-eyed barbarians. Once the planets are civilized then persons from the Middle Kingdom may decide to move in. But no respectable Chinese person would ever want to relocate until they can be assured of the amenities of a civilized world.

Or, possibly, the original colonists were, say, 20% ethnically Chinese (though they were a particularly wealthy and politically powerful cohort who exerted vastly disproportionate cultural influence) and after a century or two of significant cross-breeding, it’s hard to find people still showing the basic east-Asian phenotype. Even “black” people might be relatively rare.