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All Dolled Up
Twisted Princes and Fairytale Heroines
—Adelle DeWitt, “Echo” (unaired pilot)
Thus Adelle DeWitt explains this need to create “pure souls,” the Dolls who offer exactly what a client most needs. But this speech also emphasizes the craving for protection, the retreat to the simplicity of childhood that dominates the series. The ultimate fantasy, in fact, of becoming a Doll. Though the show leads viewers through images of toys and playtime, fairytales and fantasies, a shadow of self-determination and reality coats them all, threatening the sweet myth of innocent childhood as Echo grows into far more than a plaything.
Who would want to be a Doll? Or, to be realistic, who wouldn’t? Adelle DeWitt, the house’s protector and fairy godmother of a sort, describes its benefits: five-star meals, a gym and spa, massages, personal trainers, art classes. There’s a fashion expert to dress you. A bodyguard to protect you. Entire teams of people, in short, determined to make you into your best. And all you have to do is forget.
And this forgetting offers the ultimate freedom of childhood: acting without responsibility, heedless of consequences. In the Dollhouse DVD commentary, producer Joss Whedon explains, “The Doll fantasy is the idea of taking away the pain, of not having consequences, of experiencing things without regret . . . We all have something that we would just love Topher to slice out of us.” The …
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