So I’ve gotten through all the Pawn Stars available on Netflix, and now I have a stack of gender and Islam books to get through, and you know, hey, sometimes I need a break.

It’s been a long week here already and its only Wednesday. I’ve got a new dog that won’t crap outside, bad weather, unresponsive city officials, and lots of day job.

So last night I turned on the TV. Drank a couple beers to get up my courage, and watched a couple more episodes of Dollhouse.

Why? Why oh why?

Because there are, in fact, people who like this show. Who talk on and on about how Whedon is doing this amazing transgressive things with it. Who say it really hits its stride in season 2, and if you can just sit through all the used and abused women until then, it gets really interesting.

Also, of course, I was exhausted and vegetative.

That’s always how they get you.

I stopped watching initially after episode 2, when our supposed heroine is hired out to some guy as a whore/target practice. Yeah, I’m serious. It’s The Most Dangerous Game. Again, this might be more interesting if I wasn’t around to endure this whole “ha ha hee hee isn’t that funny” hoax.

As it was, it creeped me the hell out, and I stopped watching.

I wanted to give Whedon credit. You always want to give folks you see as allies credit for stuff. But here’s the thing: just because you were responsible for writing and producing the majority of the Buffy series and Firefly was a lot of fun doesn’t mean you get a free pass when you’re creating bad TV.

Last night I squigged through three more ponderous episodes of misogynistic hate. Sexy ladies being used, abused, wiped, and bought like so much merchandise. You can go on and on about how this is really an in depth critique of modern day human trafficking, or tell me that Whedon really is just building it all up and showing you how bad it is so he can tear it all down.

But the fact is that 1) The Madam isn’t actually in charge. She answers to a guy, which she’s on the phone with in ep 3 or 4 and 2) Alpha, who plays around with folks and also wipes folks, is a guy 3) And Topher, of course, the genius wiperoo of them all, is a skeevy, nasty sort who I hate more and more as each episode goes on 4) Echo’s protector/body guard is a guy 5) the “good guy” trying to save Echo from all these bad people is, of course, a guy. 6) the only female regular character outside of Dollhouse is obsessed with our “good guy” in a romantic way and even brings him meatloaf or lasagna early on (I suspect she’s likely a Doll, too).

It’s gross.

Really.

It’s a bunch of women being used, controlled, and abused  by guys. Orbiting guys. Serving guy clients. They aren’t always whores. Whooop-dee-doo. Sometimes they are safe-crackers who suddenly become mind-wiped cucumbers. At. every. single. step. along. the. way. these people are people manipulated and controlled. And it doesn’t get better. Telling me, “Alpha will help inspire them to be freeee!” or “that FBI guy will help set them freeeee!” or even, “Echo will someday become a super weapon!” are all stupid, boring, cliched, hackneyed things. There is nothing at all redeeming about this show. Not one single thing.

To add insult to injury, Eliza Dushku just doesn’t have the acting chops to pull this off. And the overt sexualization of all the women just gets annoying. And the wiping and wiping and wiping gets old. He had a couple episodes to give us the script that she then unpacks and rebels against. I’m just not going to sit through half a dozen or a dozen or two dozen episodes of abusive hate in order to get around to the point.

Knowing that Whedon produced it makes it even more insulting. You always react strongest when somebody you perceive as a part of your “in” group appears to betray you. I still feel the same way about Dollhouse as I did after the second episode: Whedon could have been spending his time creating far better shows. And instead, wasted several years of his life putting together this piece of crap.

Did anyone get past the first two episodes? Why did you keep watching? I only made it through three more because I was a little buzzed and hoping to find something redeeming; you want to be able to find what others find. Was that the only reason ya’ll kept watching? Because you kept hoping it’d get better?

Because I have to tell you – it’s a physically painful show for me to watch. Every episode, you’re just waiting for somebody to sexually assault the heroine. Every. Single. Episode. That gets really exhausting and nerve-wracking. Folks might say, “Hey, good TV should *make* you uncomfortable!” But to what end does my discomfort serve? Will it teach me more about myself or the world to watch a heroine manipulated, controlled, and assaulted for hours on end? Even if she rebels against it later because she gets her special powers? Cause like the UF stuff I gnawed on earlier, she’s never going to escape being a doll. She’s absolutely surrounded by men manipulating and controlling her.

Smacks a little too close to home for a lot of people, you know? And her getting superpowers as bestowed by somebody else (Alpha or whoever) just isn’t going to make up for all the gross human trafficking stuff.

I realize these are interesting things to you, Whedon, and that you’d like us to be uncomfortable. But there’s being edgy and transgressive and then there’s Hunting for Bambi. Five episodes in, there’s still little to nothing to distinguish one from the other, except yours is TV and there’s was a marketing ploy.

Here’s to hoping that Pawn Stars season 3 shows up on Netflix soon.

The Latest

The Broken Heavens

The bloodsoaked conclusion to Kameron Hurley’s epic fantasy masterpiece – the Worldbreaker Saga – is unleashed. Join your favs for one final adventure at the end the worlds now.

Support Kameron

If you’ve read and enjoyed my work for free – whether that’s the musings here on the blog, guest posts elsewhere, or through various free fiction sites, it’s now easier than ever to donate to support this work, either with a one-time contribution via PayPal, or via a monthly Patreon contribution:

Scroll to Top