On Dollhouse

All Dolled Up

Twisted Princes and Fairytale Heroines

By Valerie Estelle Frankel
The world is a very simple place. At first. And then
as we grow up, it grows around us. A dense thicket
of complication and disappointment. Unbearable for
some, and even for the luckiest of us still sometimes
more than we can handle. Less than we’d hoped.
 –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  …

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