On Dollhouse

How Cancellation Told the Story of the Dollhouse

By Luciana Hiromi Yamada da Silveira

She kills herself. She tries to kill him. She hears the trigger.
She fights against it.

The actions described in those four sentences do not make
a story. In this form, they are a cluster of events with no logical
relationship connecting them.

However, those who identified the scene–November’s final
interaction with Paul Ballard (from Dollhouse’s episode “The Hollow
Men,” 2-12)–will automatically reorder the pieces until they make
sense. She hears the trigger. [As a result,] she tries to kill him. [But] she
fights against it
. [So] she kills herself. Now it makes sense. Now there
is a story, one in which no dead girl tries to kill anyone.

“Making sense” is a key part of storytelling, because the very
purpose of stories is to help people to make sense of the world.
Stories organize our knowledge and experiences, rebuilding
occurrences and, ultimately, realities.

We learn about what happens around us from news stories
and from narrations by others. The same strategy is used
to build fictional worlds: We cry in movie theaters because the
story told in that hour and half leads us to connect deeply with
characters who don’t really exist and whom we have just “met.”
Stories create a connection that makes us nod while reading
essays about how and why Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a picture
of our own vampire-less teenage years.

Because stories are the way we perceive and organize the
world, we are quick to learn the rules of the  …

More from Luciana Hiromi Yamada da Silveira

Stay Updated

on our daily essay, giveaways, and other special deals

Our Books

Subscribe via RSS