Firefly is definitely an odd mix. My beef with the show is that it took the western metaphor to an extreme that made it look completely ridiculous and preposterous. There’s no real explanation why the frontier worlds of the Firefly system not only acted liked frontier cultures, but directly cloned the culture of a past period, including clothing and mannerisms. That’s outright nonsensical.
I thought the core worlds seemed similarly unconvincing, but since the show only gave small glimpses of them and the characters were not exactly the most objective narrative viewpoints when it came to the core worlds, the perspective might have been skewed deliberately.
But the worst element of the show were the Reavers: humans gone feral but still able to manage complex machinery. Thankfully they were scarce on the show.
Still, while I wasn’t much enamored by the setting, the show managed to create interesting characters. I really liked Captain Reynolds, there’s rarely a well done character with such an uncompromising no-nonsense attitude. Or Jayne Cobb, whose amoral but still sympathetic persona was a refreshing counterpoint to all the others on the ship.