Nostalgia Friday: Dollhouse (TV show)
Dollhouse was, and remains, controversial for anyone who saw it. Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dr. Horrible, and something about The Avengers, came out with Dollhouse the year after the writer’s strike, and before the Marvel stuff. As you may or may not know, Whedon has a huge and diverse community of cult-like fans—I can say this because I am one of these fans. Even among his fans Dollhouse was debated. Why?—because it kind of makes human trafficking sexy. BUT it is a device to draw you into the conversation and expose how it is completely and utterly devastating and not at all sexy. I am wholeheartedly of the belief that Dollhouse is a beautifully provocative story and that if you have the patience and trust to participate in the conversation that you will be greatly rewarded.
It’s only two short seasons so what do you have to lose?!
Ok, so, if I haven’t lost you yet, you deserve a synopsis. Dollhouse is, on the surface, a story about a literal and figurative underground organization that rents people out to the extremely wealthy for basically any purpose. The organization has the ability to “imprint” personalities and fictional personal histories on to the “dolls”—people they keep in the zen spa like underground dorm. The constructed identities given to the dolls enable them to carry out whatever they are hired for. In the first episode a hot young billionaire wants an adventurous date with a stranger (the doll he hired), so the main character is given a vapid fun-loving motorcycle riding yet innocent and caring personality. It makes you uncomfortable and it should. After episode six it becomes apparent there is yet even more weirdness and uncomfortableness going on. The story is layers in conspiracy and a dizzying discussion of identity, humanity, and of course morality.
If you like philosophical discussion in your stories, if you are a feminist, if you love Joss Whedon and haven’t watched this for some reason, please give Dollhouse a chance. Episodes 1-6 are where the pattern is established so you need to watch until at least episode 7. That is when things really begin to crumble and you can start to see why Whedon was trying to make you so uncomfortable for six episodes. Also, this show has some of my favorite characters of all time. As with all Whedon creations the interactions with the characters and their development, is reason alone to watch it.