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The Characters for Joss Whedon’s New Show Sound Very Whedon-Esque, and Not in a Good Way

Spanky

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Messages
24,289
Black Thorn
Reposted from TMS

We’re not necessarily big fans of Joss Whedon’s newest project, The Nevers. The HBO drama sounds like it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Victorian England, but with all the worst elements of the series. The full cast list has finally been announced, along with their character descriptions, and yeah … it’s not particularly great.

Take for example the lead character, Amalia True, who will be played by Laura Donnelly. She is described by Entertainment Weekly as being “the most reckless, impulsive, emotionally damaged hero of her time. A menace to stuffy Victorian society, she would die for the cause and kill for a drink.” There’s so much to unpack there, but let’s start with “emotionally damaged.” Must all of Whedon’s heroines be emotionally damaged?

Buffy went through hell and back, and so did Cordelia, Willow, Echo, Inara, River, Zoe, and every other female character Whedon has ever written. The nature of storytelling means your characters will go through some trauma, but Whedon loves emotionally traumatizing his female heroes to a degree that he doesn’t traumatize his male heroes. There is also the element of sexual violence present in his narratives that often is used to torture his heroines. All in all, hyping up the protagonist as being emotionally damaged and impulsive is not the best look.

Then let’s look at Amy Manson’s Maladie. “Committed by her husband (and genuinely unstable), she’s been warped by a power she can’t understand, and tortured by doctors intent on finding its source,” wrote Entertainment Weekly. “She now lives underground, runs a gang and is on an infamous murder spree. She affects a theatrical parody of a bedlam waif, but mad as she is, she’s a woman with a purpose.”

I guess she’s like an evil River from Firefly? Whedon does like his tortured women who use violence ostensibly to defend themselves from the patriarchy and toxic men but who really are acting out a male power fantasy.

Again, this is a trope that’s popular in Whedon’s works. He loves his damaged, partially insane women who are violent. They’re present in most of his work and it’s a deeply problematic trope.

The male characters don’t have it any easier. Take Hugo Swann (James Norton) who’s a “pansexual posh boy whose charm has about five years left on its lease. He runs a secret club and a side trade in blackmail. He’s devoted to fulfilling everyone’s worst impression of him — and fascinated by the Touched.” Just think, even after Whedon managed to bury his gays in Buffy, he’s still finding a new way to be vaguely homophobic. Making a pansexual character a blackmailer and a cad is not necessarily a great look, particularly given Whedon’s obsession with heteronormativity.

There are more characters to break down. Like Annie, the “career criminal” who happens to be the only Black woman in the cast, or Augustus, who is described as being a “sweet, disarming nerd” which is Whedon speak for “entitled nice guy.” There is so much here that reminds me of those memes where people have bots watch a bunch of Hallmark movies and then write one. It’s like a bot literally wrote these descriptions based on Whedon’s previous titles and didn’t bother to do much except change the names,

There have to be other writers out there who aren’t toxic or dated who could’ve written a Victorian superpower show. Maybe there’s a writer of color or a woman who could have tackled the project. Instead, we’re getting leftovers from the Angel character line-up. I would like to be pleasantly surprised by the show, but given Whedon’s recent track record, I doubt I will be.
 

Taake

I do doodle. You too. You do doodle, too.
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Black Thorn
Lol, I wasn't excited by the cast list, but this article did make excited for The Nevers. I like emotionally damaged heroines and heroes, so sue me. Unlike the bigger franchises I'm glad Whedon won't be taking the Mary Sue route because feminism now means female characters should only have the flaws Twitter-mobs/entertainment writers deems acceptable. Like being too awesome, pretty, easy to teach etc, you know, flaws people can really relate to *eye roll*

Whedon’s flawed heroines are basically why I’m still watching his shows 20 years later.

but Whedon loves emotionally traumatizing his female heroes to a degree that he doesn’t traumatize his male heroes.

Ehm, sure. Angel, Wesley, Spike, Xander, Mal, Paul... I'd say they're all pretty gosh darn traumatized but, whatever.


Maybe there’s a writer of color or a woman who could have tackled the project. Instead, we’re getting leftovers from the Angel character line-up.

Oh I see, creativity comes down to race and gender, how silly of me, I keep forgetting that your external characteristics really do determine your worth.

To be clear, if the writer had said ”maybe woman X, or writer of color Y” instead, suggesting any insight into the writers work, creativity and skill, that’d be one thing.

But this statement, to me, is them saying that anyone of color or female gender would do a better job because of what they are, not who they are.
 
Spanky
Spanky
You just have to be a contrarian don't you?

The Bronze

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There have to be other writers out there who aren’t toxic or dated who could’ve written a Victorian superpower show.
What a stupid thing to say. Any writer could write anything. Whedon is writing this though. Don't like it, don't watch it. Everything wrong with a certain crowd of critics. Focusing on every conceivable "problematic" slight and no focus at all on if it's entertaining.
 
Anyanka Bunny Slayer
Anyanka Bunny Slayer
That was REALLY unnecessary. Wanker.
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Black Thorn
Must all of Whedon’s heroines be emotionally damaged?
Buffy, Willow, Tara, Cordelia were not emotionally damaged when the show first started, why would anyone watch something if they don't go through hardships? That would be boring.
Whedon loves emotionally traumatizing his female heroes to a degree that he doesn’t traumatize his male heroes.
What @Taake said
There is also the element of sexual violence present in his narratives that often is used to torture his heroines.
Yeah and also this is set in the Victorian Era and it's not like women had equal rights...
He loves his damaged, partially insane women who are violent. They’re present in most of his work and it’s a deeply problematic trope.
And? How is it damaging? I've never once seen a woman and been like "Ah because in Buffy, Faith and Drusilla were insane and violent, therefore all women must be!"
Honestly, who really cares, people like tropes. The brooding, mysterious love interest, the emotionally damaged man saved by the love of a woman, innocent girl falling for a bad boy etc. The 'insane and violent' trope is fairly uncommon in works outside of Whedon, but it is entertaining.
The male characters don’t have it any easier.
They just said men don't get as traumatised as female ones?? But okay.
Just think, even after Whedon managed to bury his gays in Buffy, he’s still finding a new way to be vaguely homophobic. Making a pansexual character a blackmailer and a cad is not necessarily a great look, particularly given Whedon’s obsession with heteronormativity.
What does it take to entertain you people? One minute people complain because there's bisexual erasure in Buffy because Willow is gay (an actual issue), the next minute there's not enough gay people. Whedon literally threatened to quit so Willow and Tara could kiss on screen, also remember this was almost 20 years ago, and aimed at a teenage audience (which woul be a bit of a no-no then). And again, this is Victorian era, the only ones who could really get away with being not straight are the rich folk not many people are going to flaunt their sexuality then. we are talking of a period of time where heterosexuality was the norm (well it was less accepted). And just because he's pansexual he can't have any villainous qualities? So is only a straight white man allowed to be bad?
happens to be the only Black woman in the cast
I'm guessing since the actors are mainly British it is set in Britain, there wasn't that many black people in the Victorian era - there were some due to the slave trade but were no where near the same percentage of black people out of the population then. Hell I live in Yorkshire (in the countryside) but the first time I saw black people is when I went to a city. You can't blame a guy for trying to represent what Victorian Britain would look like.
There have to be other writers out there who aren’t toxic or dated who could’ve written a Victorian superpower show. Maybe there’s a writer of color or a woman who could have tackled the project.
The people who claim he is toxic (which he might well be) seem to always take things from Buffy or Angel which ended over 15 years ago where you are limited by the network and public opinion at the time, it was already a bold move to have Willow as a lesbian. Can we just not get people of colour or women just for the sake of it? The writer of the article has suggested it isn't going to be good but it hasn't even come out yet.
 

Octavia

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Sineya
Oh man. What an article... I came to post pretty much what Taake has already posted. I hope writers like this don't get paid for their work, it's baseless drivel.

he doesn’t traumatize his male heroes.
*rolls eyes*
I mean, we live in an age now where people are traumatized by being called the wrong name, so I think we can safely say that Joss was all for equal trauma.

He loves his damaged, partially insane women who are violent. They’re present in most of his work and it’s a deeply problematic trope.

I love his damaged partially insane women who are violent too. It's the closest to represented that I get in american media.
 
one eyed chicklet
one eyed chicklet
It's just the part where they say the women are traumatised and men aren't, then proceed to say that men don't escape it either with the pansexual guy. The person who wrote this article is probably just nitpicking because they don't like Joss Whedon.
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Black Thorn
I think we can all agree this is fuelled by someone's pure dislike of Joss Whedon, even if he is repeating the same tropes for characters, let's not pretend they didn't work and didn't add to some of the most beloved TV shows of all time. This is a lazy excuse for journalism and I'm surprised they managed to publish crap like this. The pulling apart of the characters is ridiculous as according to this it seems like they can't have a hard life if they are a woman, black or LGBT+ (bearing in mind it is set in the Victorian era and will definitely face some different and more hardships that straight male native Britons). I guarantee if there was a more LGBT or diverse cast this article would be complaining that it is ignoring how people of colour and LGBT people suffered in the Victorian era. They clearly don't analyse anything contextually in regards to Buffy the vampire slayer with hetero-normativity especially because of Willow.
And if anyone has anything about Joss Whedon being toxic that isn't out of date by about 20 years I would willingly agree, but no evidence is given here.
I can barely even call this criticism because it just goes beyond it.
 
T
thrasherpix
Yeah, I've pretty much stopped being a fan of Whedon, however much I still love some of his work, but even I found the article desperate to be clickbait

Cohen

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I am actually rather excited for “The Nevers”. Joss did a kickass job creating a space western, I’m sure Victorian England will be fine. They did write a ton of episodes set during that time period on Buffy. And with Jane also at the helm, you know there’s going to be GREAT comedy-drama!
 

WillowFromBuffy

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There have to be other writers out there who aren’t toxic or dated who could’ve written a Victorian superpower show. Maybe there’s a writer of color or a woman who could have tackled the project. Instead, we’re getting leftovers from the Angel character line-up. I would like to be pleasantly surprised by the show, but given Whedon’s recent track record, I doubt I will be.
It's not like Whedon was handed this project. He built it. If he doesn't make this, no-one will. That is part of what makes Whedon's return to TV so exciting. He'll be doing his own thing again.

He has a woman (and not just any woman) as his co-pilot on The Nevers. And he handed his old creation (BtVS) over to a black woman. BtVS also had several female writers, and they generally weren't any kinder to the female characters than Whedon was.
 

AndrewCrossett

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Sineya
Well, that's what you get from a writer who comes into it with an anti-Whedon agenda already in place.

Sounds to me like exactly what Joss's many, many, many fans want. Sounds like what I want.

I also hope to hear more about the new Buffyverse show that's in the pipeline.
 

AnthonyCordova

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Sineya
I mean, how can anyone say anything critical about it without having actually seen it? Any quality or characteristic you wish to mention can be done well or badly. Reckless or emotionally damaged characters can be inspiring and fun or loathesome or anything in between or to the right or left. It's all in the execution. I choose to keep an open mind until I actually see it at work.
 

white avenger

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Here's wishing the guy luck. Everybody panned "Justice League," and the second "Avengers" movie didn't seem to come up to expectations, as compared to the first one. Maybe coming back to the small screen will break his unlucky streak.

Just my luck, it'll be on HBO, since I don't get the premium channels.
 

NeddaSai

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I read it's a victorian sci-fi? that means steampunk right?!! I'm all for it to be honest.. can't understand people judging before anything concrete is out.
 
one eyed chicklet
one eyed chicklet
I think the person who wrote the article just hates Joss Whedon, it certainly comes across that way.
T
thrasherpix
Steampunk!? Damn, I went to "never will see this anyway" to "I can't wait." I'm such a steampunk geek.

Fuffy Baith

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Sineya
Let's not forget that Olivia Williams from Dollhouse will be in this! I'm excited to see her and Dennis O'Hare, plus I like Victorian era London steampunk stuff. So I'm excited for this. Plus let's not actually judge the character's based on what the article says, let's wait to see the show, to determine if we like these character tropes.

Here's wishing the guy luck. Everybody panned "Justice League," and the second "Avengers" movie didn't seem to come up to expectations, as compared to the first one. Maybe coming back to the small screen will break his unlucky streak.
I think I might like Avenger's:Age of Ultron more than the first one but certainly he hasn't put out anything unanimously great since the first Avengers, I'm curious to see what he'll do on the small screen. I think HBO is a good fit, I'll have to get it when this comes out.
 

Octavia

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Sineya
Man some folks out here just waiting to pounce on Joss. Project isn't even out and it's already #cancelled.

Yeah. I wonder if it has to do with his personal life? To be honest, some of the most brilliant people are arrogant tools, but I cant hold that against them in the love for their art. Its like there is a mind SET, there is no forgiveness or acceptance of anything he does now cos he was a bit of a prick to his wife/women. Maybe the women he writes are based on the women he knows so his work is really a tribute :p

I watched a show called Another Life on Netflix last night. It was truly terrible - but it did all the right things to please the current social/pop culture. With articles like this shaping our tv ideals, it won't be long til all that is on offer is depth-less drivel restricted within elite social parameters.
 

TriBel

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Sigh...my response to the article:

giphy.gif
 

kalike123

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Reposted from TMS

We’re not necessarily big fans of Joss Whedon’s newest project, The Nevers. The HBO drama sounds like it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Victorian England, but with all the worst elements of the series. The full cast list has finally been announced, along with their character descriptions, and yeah … it’s not particularly great.

Take for example the lead character, Amalia True, who will be played by Laura Donnelly. She is described by Entertainment Weekly as being “the most reckless, impulsive, emotionally damaged hero of her time. A menace to stuffy Victorian society, she would die for the cause and kill for a drink.” There’s so much to unpack there, but let’s start with “emotionally damaged.” Must all of Whedon’s heroines be emotionally damaged?

Buffy went through hell and back, and so did Cordelia, Willow, Echo, Inara, River, Zoe, and every other female character Whedon has ever written. The nature of storytelling means your characters will go through some trauma, but Whedon loves emotionally traumatizing his female heroes to a degree that he doesn’t traumatize his male heroes. There is also the element of sexual violence present in his narratives that often is used to torture his heroines. All in all, hyping up the protagonist as being emotionally damaged and impulsive is not the best look.

Then let’s look at Amy Manson’s Maladie. “Committed by her husband (and genuinely unstable), she’s been warped by a power she can’t understand, and tortured by doctors intent on finding its source,” wrote Entertainment Weekly. “She now lives underground, runs a gang and is on an infamous murder spree. She affects a theatrical parody of a bedlam waif, but mad as she is, she’s a woman with a purpose.”

I guess she’s like an evil River from Firefly? Whedon does like his tortured women who use violence ostensibly to defend themselves from the patriarchy and toxic men but who really are acting out a male power fantasy.

Again, this is a trope that’s popular in Whedon’s works. He loves his damaged, partially insane women who are violent. They’re present in most of his work and it’s a deeply problematic trope.

The male characters don’t have it any easier. Take Hugo Swann (James Norton) who’s a “pansexual posh boy whose charm has about five years left on its lease. He runs a secret club and a side trade in blackmail. He’s devoted to fulfilling everyone’s worst impression of him — and fascinated by the Touched.” Just think, even after Whedon managed to bury his gays in Buffy, he’s still finding a new way to be vaguely homophobic. Making a pansexual character a blackmailer and a cad is not necessarily a great look, particularly given Whedon’s obsession with heteronormativity.

There are more characters to break down. Like Annie, the “career criminal” who happens to be the only Black woman in the cast, or Augustus, who is described as being a “sweet, disarming nerd” which is Whedon speak for “entitled nice guy.” There is so much here that reminds me of those memes where people have bots watch a bunch of Hallmark movies and then write one. It’s like a bot literally wrote these descriptions based on Whedon’s previous titles and didn’t bother to do much except change the names,

There have to be other writers out there who aren’t toxic or dated who could’ve written a Victorian superpower show. Maybe there’s a writer of color or a woman who could have tackled the project. Instead, we’re getting leftovers from the Angel character line-up. I would like to be pleasantly surprised by the show, but given Whedon’s recent track record, I doubt I will be.
I didn't finish reading this. I stopped around "deeply problematic."

If Whedon's characters are causing problems for you, just stop watching the shows. Problem solved. If only all problems could be solved so easily!

I like a lot of what Joss Whedon does. Not all of it, but a lot. Every time I hear he worked on a movie without credit, I liked the movie, but I didn't care for Cabin In The Woods and don't watch the superhero movies.

I'd like to watch The Nevers, but I don't get Pay For Them Special channels & nobody sells DVDs any more, so I probably won't watch it. If there are DVDs, though, I'll give it a shot. It sounds pretty good to me.

To each, his own.
 
Octavia
Octavia
Clever cookie not to waste your time on their whiney words!
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