Dollhouse Renewed? Why not Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles?

June 22, 2009

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Anita Sarkeesian

Executive Director and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Enthusiast

Fox Networks decided to renew Dollhouse for another 13 episodes but canceled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  I’m less then thrilled about this decision.

Links Referenced in Video:

Update: There are some really great conversations about Dollhouse on The Angry Black Woman “The problem with Dollhouse is not that I don’t understand subtlety” and on Feminist SF “Working in the Dollhouse”

Also please check out this amazing fan vid about Dollhouse It Depends on What You Pay.   Brilliantly edited by Gianduja Kiss to expose some of the more controversial aspects of the show.  Word of warning, it’s kind of intense.

For full video transcript click here >>

Fox Networks decided to renew Dollhouse for another 13 episodes but canceled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.  I’m less then thrilled about this decision.

Links Referenced in Video:

Update: There are some really great conversations about Dollhouse on The Angry Black Woman “The problem with Dollhouse is not that I don’t understand subtlety” and on Feminist SF “Working in the Dollhouse”

Also please check out this amazing fan vid about Dollhouse It Depends on What You Pay.   Brilliantly edited by Gianduja Kiss to expose some of the more controversial aspects of the show.  Word of warning, it’s kind of intense.

 

Transcript

I just found out that Dollhouse is being renewed by Fox for another season.  It’s a Joss Whedon TV show so I wanted to give it a chance when it first started.  Dollhouse is a show about a bunch of people who get there brains wiped and then new personalities and experiences and memories get put into their heads and they can exist as that person for X amount of time and they get hired out by clients to perform various tasks.  Most of the “engagements” are men trying to fulfill a fantasy.  Dollhouse is really a glorified brothel, Dollhouse is really misogynistic, I don’t know what other word to describe it as.  There is a big issue that has really been raised about whether this is rape or not.  It’s been talked about a little bit online but the show hasn’t dealt with this issue at all.  So they sign these contracts saying that they’ll be in Dollhouse for X amount of years and their conscious mind isn’t around so they can’t consent to every single engagement that they go on.  Now if you can’t consent then that would be rape right?

In Dollhouse we as the viewer are supposed to condemn the dollhouse, we’re not supposed to like it, we’re supposed to think it’s morally and ethically wrong to do these things to these people yet we identify with all of the characters in the dollhouse.  So Boyd the handler, you think he’s pretty cool because he seems to have issues with what’s going on, yet he still continues to work there.  The woman who runs the place, towards the end of the season we start to get more of an emotional grasp on her and her character gets more complicated so we become even more entrenched in who she is not, you know, not hating her.  Tofur the crazy scientist, you totally think he’s funny and witty and smart and goofy, you don’t really take him too seriously.  If we’re not supposed to like dollhouse, which I think we’re not supposed to then why are we sympathetic with all of the characters inside of the dollhouse?

Joss Whedon on Whedonesque.com was quoted as saying that part of the pitch to renew for a second season was that they were going to go in the direction of the season finale.  I think we have enough crazy, serial killing, murdering men on television that we don’t need to add to the repertoire with dollhouse.  The season finale was just blah cover my ears cover my eyes, I didn’t want to watch a single other episode of Dollhouse after that.  It was just so grotesquely violent, it was unnecessary, it’s this crazy maniacal guy who was damaged by the dollhouse (which were sympathetic to right) doing all these crazy things so now he becomes the enemy and the dollhouse is kind of in that grey middle zone area.

This news is troubling in that I really didn’t want Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles to get cancelled.  I thought it was a really good show.  I felt like the story line and the characters were really complex.  They made complicated relationships between each other and the characters evolved in interesting ways that I thought could grow over another couple of seasons.  Also the show is based on the Terminator movies which most of us have probably seen which are kind of big macho fests about you know, gore and violence and blowing things up and robots, the whole sci fi chase scene thing.  But Sarah Connor, although it had those elements, was actually really smart.  It fused together the action part of the sci fi genre but it also brought in character development that I thought was really well done.  The show is also mostly about a woman, she’s an independent, tough, single mom that’s trying to protect her son.  The other main character on the show is a representation of a teenage woman who although she’s a robot you still see as young female.  She’s empowered, she’s smart, she’s strong, these are all good things to have on television I think.  I think looking really critically at a show why Dollhouse is being renewed and the Sarah Connor Chronicles are not… the Sarah Connor Chronicles really took its time and sometimes it was a little slow moving because they really did a lot of character development, and really built up a story line so you really became attached to what was going on and really invested.  Where in Dollhouse you met a new character every week.  It wasn’t really super complicated, you didn’t have a lot of character development.  There were a few things here and there where the main character, Echo started to remember her old past but even then it wasn’t that interesting and it was kind of the same old same old.

There was a really interesting article in the Washington Post that talked about how Dollhouse was produced by Fox and aired on the Network of Fox so they have more invested in that financially and can make more profits.  Where Sarah Connor was produced by Warner Brothers aired on Fox, there’s not as much financial investment.  I know that Joss Whedon is capable of writing really good quality television that’s critical and analytical and has social commentary while still being entertaining and fun.  So I don’t know why he can’t do that again.