The Psychology of The Dollhouse Set

by admin on July 29, 2008 · 3 comments

Dollhouse Coffins

Over on our Forums, member TruEcho has alerted us to a very interesting article from the AfterEllen girls TCA tour of the Dollhouse set.

“stepping onto a set is like getting an opportunity to actually enter a fictional world” – Malinda Lo

Malinda reveals some intriguing details about the Dollhouse layout, the possible relevance to the characters and the potential psychology at work:

Usually sets are built on the floor level, but this set — which is the office of Adelle DeWitt (Olivia Williams), the manager of the “Dollhouse” — is elevated so that they can shoot a floor-to-ceiling skyline through the windows. The dollhouse itself, which is a sort of dormitory/office complex for the “actives” — including Eliza Dushku‘s Echo — is all underground, and Adelle’s office is the only part of it that is above the ground.

Fascinating! So the “actives” are literally ‘buried’ from sight? Perhaps a further reference to the notion that when they’re in the Dollhouse complex, they are spiritually and physically closer to nature – a stark contrast to the technological world that harnesses them.


Interestingly, Adelle’s desk is facing away from the door and toward the windows, so that her back is to the door. “I didn’t want to do the standard, come-before-me- and-my-desk thing,” Joss said. “I found it interesting that she would be the kind of person who wanted to look at the world rather than into her own space. Also, it means that if you enter the room, she doesn’t have to look at you, which is a power play.”

Fascinating x2! Is Adelle frightened of eye-contact with the “actives”? Does she secretly fear that they might remember her and what her organisation has taken(?) from them? Or is this purely power-play at work?

Malinda provides with details of the “actives” sleeping arrangement:

We visited the actives’ dormitory next. It’s a circular room with five sleeping pods sunken into a slate ground, and the Zen-like decor softens the creepiness of the coffin-like sleeping arrangements. Each one slides shut with a plexiglass cover so that when the actives are asleep, they’re basically put away — like dolls, of course.

Whedon said that he wanted to create “something that was a little womb-like, a little coffin-like, and a little bit like no matter how free they feel coming and going into the dollhouse, in essence they are completely trapped.”

Like I said above, it would appear that the “actives” are being detached from the outside world and imprisoned, almost, inside this bubble. Whedon describes it as ‘womb-like’ which I think adds a whole new perspective. One wonders whether any of our “actives” might prematurely leave said womb?..HMM.

I’m not going to post anymore, but I highly recommend reading the entire post over at, it really gives a brilliant insight into what we can expect without really spoiling anything. Also, feel free to jump into discussion with fellow Dollhouse enthusiasts over on our message boards.

Thanks: TruEcho for the heads-up + for the awesome piece

pete July 30, 2008 at 9:41 pm

whats the deal with amy acker’s character?

Legend July 31, 2008 at 1:15 pm

She’s Dr Saunders in the show. Will probably get killed off after a few episodes imo.

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