Dear Joss, FOX Execs., and anyone else who has the slightest bit of power over Dollhouse's advertising:
I get that the whole premise of Dollhouse is supposed to be creepy and wrong. Squicky, if you will. We as audience members are supposed to be repulsed by the idea of people erasing each other's identities in order to use them for their own gain or satisfaction. Characters like Topher (aka Warren) and the way he gets off on controlling these women (I realize there are men involved, too, but that isn't really the issue here) are supposed to be viewed as reprehensible. If I didn't believe that wholeheartedly, I would stop watching this show in about two seconds.
But see, there are a whole lot of people out there who didn't get that vibe at all. And they are offended, squicked, disgusted...and they've sworn off of the show already.
You know why I think this is? Because of the disgusting, sexist ads featuring Eliza and Summer. Look, I get it. I was so taken with the idea of the two of them onscreen at the same time that it took me some time to realize just how they were being presented. River and Faith on the same screen! That's so awesome! They're pretty! Real, live crossovers! The network is really speaking to the built-in geek fandom audience!
But that is not what those ads did. Instead, they presented two extremely beautiful young women as nothing more than objects to provide sexual titillation that can be "programmed" to the desires of whoever is watching, making a "date night" with the viewer. In these ads, they were dolls. And there was absolutely nothing to make us think that that isn't how the network wanted us to view them.
The ads completely undermined the show itself. How on earth could people be expected not to think that Joss and the network are presenting the dollhouse in a straightforward, have-your-fantasy-fulfilled, a-woman-is-just-a-body-for-your-enjoyment kind of way? Seriously? We're supposed to be skeeved by Topher viewing the dolls as toys for his own sick enjoyment and then turn around and do the exact same thing to two real, live women with minds and hearts and souls?
No. Absolutely not. If you continue to advertise in this way, you will lose all the thoughtful, reasonable viewers and the show will only be watched by the very morally-skewed people you're trying to critique. I know that you executives don't really care about quality of viewers, just numbers, but (and I could be wrong--for as many times as other humans inspire me with their compassion, thoughtfulness, and courage, there are at least as many times that they make me ashamed to be human) I like to think the thoughtful members of your audience are a larger percentage than the sexist perverts.
These ads are self-defeating. I've been looking around the internet, peeking in here and there to get an idea of the main reactions to the show, and I can tell you for certain that you've already lost the respect and the viewership of a lot of thoughtful people.
And that's the last thing you can afford right now.
I had quite a lot of problems with the pilot, but none that I don't think won't--or at least can't--be overcome or subverted in future episodes--except this.
Look, if you don't get this right--accurately communicating the tone of the show--nothing else is going to matter.
Please. Take a few moments to think.
And then do the right thing.