A longtime Joss Whedon fan reflects on the past in a piece that is less of a structured argument and more of a hopeless love letter. Read it while you listen to “Hopelessly Devoted to You” by Olivia Newton John for the full effect.
Looking to the future is hard with all of this glare – but no power in the ‘verse could stop us from from putting on our sunglasses and driving off into the sunset with whatever Joss Whedon plans to do. I don’t care if it becomes an outright addiction. We might have to start going to Whedonaholic’s Anonymous. “Hello, I’m Jessica and I’m a Joss Whedon fan.” I’ll do it. They serve free punch at those things, right?
Yes, we invariably get crushed as the world clobbers his shows into cancellation and we sigh when he kills off our favorite characters (so many fatalities…Why, Fred, why?!?!), we’re amazed when he creates something we didn’t realize anyone was capable of creating (see: Buffy the Vampire Slayer season five episode The Body – no really, see it! With tissues.). And sometimes we eat cake, just because cake is good. Please don’t argue with me about cake.
When Eliza Dushku turned down the offer to play Faith the Vampire Slayer in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off I was so angry with her. Especially because she turned it down to play on a show you had to know would never do too well – Tru Calling. As predicted, that show was canceled and never all that good. And also as predicted, Joss Whedon didn’t want to let his Buffy world go for too long, so he delved into official canon ‘season 8’ Buffy comic books. I really wish they’d been able to do the Faith spin-off. Like, I wish it so much that sometimes I try to find Anyanka to grant my wish. (WhatDoYouMeanShe’sNotReal?! Psh.)
We believe in Joss Whedon’s talent because we’ve seen it manifest before our eyes. We’ve seen him cultivate some of the very best talent on and off of our screens (Summer Glau, Jane Espenson, Felicia Day, Nathan Fillion). And yet. …He seems to be fairly-kinda-sorta cursed. Firefly. Angel the Series. Serenity. Dollhouse. All were canceled or not especially well-received. (Exception: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.)
Word broke today that Dollhouse has been canceled by Fox. I was away from the Internet a mere two hours and suddenly it’s the second most popular trending topic on Twitter. Now, this may be a dumb question – but how can something so popular not have enough fans to float it with decent ratings? I think part of the problem might be that while the cast and premise of Dollhouse was fantastic, it didn’t always deliver a satisfying hour of TV. I mean, no one could want to root for the show more than me (a loyal devoted fan of Whedon since 1998) but I found many episodes lacking. I’ll still watch whatever they will not air. But I mourn the loss of the show less than I mourn the jobs for the people involved, and the power it takes away from the Whedon name. Why can’t most of the things Joss Whedon do…stick?
Or maybe it’s impossible to say that Whedon’s ideas don’t stick because even the shows that get canceled are more talked about than something like Desperate Housewives. We have passion for what he does. People care. People will always care.
But again, I find myself wondering why his projects can’t get a better foothold. This is possibly because he goes outside of the box… Yes, when he went outside of the box and gave us a vampire Slayer – we loved it. All of these other ideas we seem to like a bit less. Or we don’t even give them a chance (coughFireflycough) to see that we’ll like them.
Whedon will never be a one-hit wonder but it’s sad to even start to think that the best and most-long running project he’ll ever get to do creatively is now behind him. (You can argue that Dr. Horrible was better than Buffy, but it wasn’t.) Maybe it’s not. I just hate that people keep cutting him off from being able to realize the potential of these amazing ideas he gets. Because these aren’t small scale ideas. Someone like Joss needs the platform to really give you story arcs, not stand alones. He needs to faith in a network that they have faith in him. But he may never find that. It may be time to eliminate networks and go straight to the people via the Internet.
The first picture I’m using with this piece is the first picture I ever saw in reference to Dollhouse. It’s from comic con, I think. It shows Joss saddled in between two leads for Dollhouse. And what I liked about it was that I believed in his creativity before I knew what the show would even be. You know the way people who are really into music have these gods they look up to? (Eric Clapton, and uh…whoever else.)
Well, like many a TV-devotee, I know Joss is one of the ones who…I mean, we call him a God as a joke but we also sort of mean it. Joss is God. We don’t always agree with him, but we always respect him. Even the people who say they’re over him, or sick of them – they still talk about him and debate him anyway. Because he’s legend – like that movie with Will Smith, only much less creepy.
And I know Joss has plans to do other things and maybe he wants to do the Terminator stuff and blah blah blah. Part of him has to start feeling discouraged. And I feel bad about that. I want to hug him and tell him it’s okay. Because a TV show getting canceled is like an entire network and population of people breaking up with you in a very public matter.
And we’re sorry Joss, but Fox is just not that into you.
But we’ll always be.
Joss – I doubt you need a pep talk, but please never stop doing your thing. Don’t abandon us to go run a ranch and live in the wilderness like Thoreau. Don’t start a yoga center (no one needs to be that bendy). Don’t let them kill your dream. Our dream. *THE dream. It’s not just an American dream or a Canadian dream or a teenage wet dream. I mean, maybe -uh, it’s just the dream of all creative people, anywhere. To speak, to be heard, to inspire, to create.
(*Of quality over suckfests that are watered down to appeal to mass amounts of people./rant.)
So to you I say, what has been said before and will be said again. Joss, don’t stop believing. Hold on to that feeling. (Now pretend I did a fist pump in the air.)