Dollhouse, Mary Sue, And Trying To Figure Out Just What Is Wrong With Whedon

Dollhouse, Mary Sue, And Trying To Figure Out Just What Is Wrong With Whedon

I’ve had this swirling around in my head since the last Dollhouse episode aired but haven’t had a chance to make it solid, so I want to discuss. I’ve been thinking about the whole concept of Echo being “special” and how this keeps being repeated over and over and hammered in, but we’re never really given a reason why. The show upped the ante with the recent revelation that Caroline (the pre-Echo) did something horrible to this Bennett individual which caused her to lose functionality in her arm and also to hold a very deep grudge. Bennett said something about how Caroline always charmed people and such, and that inate awesomeness apparently still comes through even though she’s Echo.

Thing is, I really just don’t buy this.

Not even just because Eliza Dushku’s acting doesn’t convey all this awesomeness terribly well. Beyond that, this whole concept feels really contrived and pushed on us by the writers instead of something the audience actually experiences. It’s very much like a Mary Sue plot, but whose Mary Sue is Echo?

You could say she’s Eliza’s since she is an Executive Producer and must have some say over plot elements. I don’t get that feeling, though. I feel like this is all coming from Whedon. That doesn’t disqualify this trope from being Mary Sue-ish (after all, Stephen Moffett just loves his female Mary Sues), but I wonder if something else is going on. Like, this is some weird male-centric fantasy that has the Mary Sue flavor but behind it is not some fantasy about being awesome and loved but a fantasy deeply centered in the male gaze and psyche.

Am I making sense? Are you seeing this, too? WTF is this all about? I am sure I’ve encountered all of this before but damned if I can remember a specific show, movie, or book.

Dollhouse: Is It Done Yet?

Dollhouse: Is It Done Yet?

My thoughts on the latest Dollhouse episode are over at Fantasy.  One aspect that bothered me that I didn’t mention was the character of Mellie/November.  Mellie, specifically.

Ever since Mellie first showed up I have been super-annoyed and wary of her character. In the beginning because I am so over the I Am Desperately In Love With Man Who Ignores Me stereotype.  She seemed so pitiful and desperate that I was really rooting for her to be a doll just so it wouldn’t be so horrible for her to exist. It makes sense for the Dollhouse to program her to be desperate for Paul, even if it is still annoying.

So then we discover Mellie is a sleeper doll — fine. But THEN.  Then the annoyances keep coming.  Paul has wet dreams about Caroline even though he is sleeping with a woman who is — pardon me for being so crass — about 20,000 times more attractive than Eliza Dushku. Later Mellie tells Paul right out that she does not care if he doesn’t return her affections in any way, as long as she can keep doting on him. I’m paraphrasing — the actual sentence was so much more sickening than that. Yes, I know Mellie was put there to keep an eye on Paul by being the kind of woman he would want, but what man who is not an asshole would find a woman who would say such a thing desirable? It speaks to Paul’s character, I think, that they programmed her that way. And, of course, his response to this speech was not “Hey now, I return your affections, you do not need to say that or feel that way.” (Yes, I know, this would have been a lie.  Still.)  No, he responds by engaging in an excessively problematic “sex” scene.

Dear Show: WTF.

I have to wonder if there wasn’t some way to achieve the same goals with Mellie/November without making her character so awful. In fact, it would have made me feel so much more sympathy for Paul if the kind of woman he desired was not someone who only had one want or need (him) but was ultra-kick-ass and also thought he was attractive. It would have been so much more interesting if he really did have to struggle between being in the present moment with someone who cared for him and being obsessed with the Dollhouse (and Caroline). Lack of stereotypes is always a big turn-on for me.

Poor Mellie. I mean, I do definitely feel for the girl. Even knowing she’s a doll, I still felt really sad when Paul walked out and cruelly told her to go to hell.  (This is perhaps due to the fact that I think the actress is doing a damn fine job with this inanity she’s been given.) It was clever of him to do so in order to track her back to the Dollhouse, but think about that: he purposefully emotionally abused a woman because he essentially ceased to see her as a real person. He flat-out refused to save her even though she was just as much a “victim” as Caroline because he decided that Caroline was indeed real.

I have a problem with that.

If anyone is supposed to be a hero in this show, it is Paul. He falls very short of that label.

And if anyone can be said to be a victim here, I would definitely nominate Mellie. That she was created in such a way, subjected to such things, and will probably cease to exist from here on out is depressing. But not more depressing than another season of this show.