No sooner had she started on OCS than the series The Time Traveler’s Wife was already creating controversy across the Atlantic. In question, the relationship between an adult man and a little girl, brought to become his wife. A friendship defended by the creator of the show.
The Time Traveler’s Wife under fire from critics! Adapted from a novel published in 2003, the series created by Steven Moffat (Sherlock, Doctor Who) chronicles the romance between Henry (Theo James), who travels through time unwittingly, and Claire (Rose Leslie), who met him when she was only 6 years old before marrying him much later.
A relationship that raises a big question: is it a beautiful love story that stands the test of time or an unhealthy romance?
A decried plot
To be interested in time travel is often to open the door to a whole bunch of inconsistencies or moral questions. In the case of The Time Traveler’s Wife, several critics have pointed out that seeing a 30-something regularly visit a child and then a teenager he knows is his future companion is problematic.
“A man over 30 who practically raises his future wife, from the age of 6, to make her his ideal partner, has even more awkward connotations today than in 2003“, can we read in the Time. “The duo form what the show would like to call a friendship, but I prefer to see it as sexual predation“, writes, for her part, a journalist from the site rogerebert.com.
the San Francisco Chronicle goes even further by stating:The pervasive sense of exploitation in this series culminates in the chilling depiction of the relationship between adult Henry and child Claire. Henry goes back in time to befriend the young girl and, by all appearances, force her to fall in love with him.
This plot point might have something to do with maintaining the timeline. But it feels like a narcissism accentuated by strong suggestions of predation.
This premise was disgusting in 2003 when Niffenegger wrote the book. In 2022, after #MeToo and the scandals of Jeffrey Epstein and Woody Allen, while everyone is aware, a series based on the meeting of an adult with a child in secret in the woods (…) should not have been done.“
Who conditioned whom?
Note that the term “grooming”, which can be translated as “sexual predation” in French, is when an adult befriends a child and gains his trust in order to have a sexual relationship, is used by the characters themselves. But the series presents the situation more as “conditioning for love” than “conditioning for sex”.
Indeed, when, at 18, Claire tries to have a sexual relationship with a 41-year-old Henry, he begins by refusing, realizing that he has practically educated his future wife, conditioning her to love him. But the latter replies that it is the opposite, that it was she who conditioned Henry to be the man of his dreams.
The series creator’s response
Asked by TVLine about these accusations of predation, Steven Moffat, who is a big fan of the novel byAudrey Niffenegger from which he takes up the plot and which he considers as “perfect“, responded :
“This is not what happens in the book, the movie or the series. He is married to her. He meets her as an adult, he falls in love with her, he marries her, then he is thrown into the past, through no fault of his own, and he is confronted with the childish version of the woman who he already loves. More so in the serial version, he makes it clear to her that he is just a friend.“
And to add that the older version of Henry who visits Claire is “a responsible man who therefore has very strict rules about [leurs échanges]“. Then to conclude: “If one of the two changed the other, it was Claire who changed Henry. Claire is exactly the same person when she was a little girl as when we see her at 70. Henry flows around Claire like a river around a rock. He becomes the man she wants him to be because he loves her.“
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