**Warning Spoilers for Love Death +Robot Below**
Digital Spy writer Abby Robinson lambasted Netflix’s recent animated anthology series Love Death + Robots. Robinson claims the anthology series created by David Fincher and Tim Miller incorporates “archaic, toxic tropes.”
While Robinson does offer praise for much of the series writing, “the vast majority of LDR looks great and many of its 18 short episodes are amusing, clever and shocking in the best possible way,” she takes issue with what I consider two of the best episodes from the anthology series. Those episodes are The Witness and Sonnie’s Edge.
Robinson spends much of her article titled, “Netflix’s Love Death + Robots has one very big problem and it’s not okay,” discussing The Witness. Robinson claims the episode is “yet another display of female suffering and degradation for the sole purpose of entertainment.”
She specifically takes issue with the fact that the male showcased in the episode remains fully clothed in the episode while the female he chases is shown in a number of states of undress.
Th episode is definitely NSFW with the main character being an adult performer at an adult-themed club. The episode doesn’t shy away from what she actually does for a living and it’s the main reason she’s running around parts of the episode unclothed. In fact, the woman is perfectly fine and comfortable performing her job. It’s not until she realizes the man, who she suspects is a murderer, is in the audience that she feels scared and hurriedly attempts to put on clothing. She doesn’t have time to put on anything more as she attempts to flee the man, who follows her.
Interestingly enough, once the man has the woman cornered the two end up in a struggle with the woman gunning down the man. The man, or at least someone who looks just like him, sees her gun him down and believes she is a murderer. It’s a complete role reversal for the woman as she had previously seen him gun down someone at the beginning of the episode. It’s a surprise ending that really makes you think about the world and what is really going on.
Robinson dismisses this writing, “That the chaser and chased appear to swap roles at the end is beside the point.” This is just laughably bad criticism. The episode doesn’t make you think the same way if the two people don’t switch roles at the end. It’s a huge part of the episode. You can’t just dismiss it because it makes your entire article and criticism completely moot.
The Witness wasn’t the only episode Robinson took issue with. She makes broad generalizations about the women portrayed throughout the anthology writing:
“Women in varying states of undress are littered throughout the series, serving no purpose other than to be ogled at – and when you consider that this is a series which has been overseen by two men, with all of the writing and directing credits (that we can see) also male bar one, there is no way to frame this as anything other than problematic.”
The woman in The Witness’ purpose wasn’t there to be ogled at. In the episode Suits, the women aren’t shown in any state of undress. They help their husbands fight off an alien invasion, whether it is providing key support via a communication system, fighting alongside the men in the battle suits, or gunning down the alien invaders with a shotgun. They are shown as strong and supportive and definitely aren’t there to be “ogled” at.
One of the other episodes, Robinson takes issue with is Sonnie’s Edge, probably the best one I’ve seen.
“Sonnie’s Edge is another episode that stands out for all of the wrong reasons. Gang rape is exploited as a plot device which outright refuses to engage with the topic in a responsible or intelligent way. The writers are simply not interested, and that is both dangerous and offensive.”
As I stated Sonnie’s Edge might be the best episode out of the entire series. It shows how a woman responds after she has been in one of the darkest states she can probably go. After she has been raped. And you might think it’s about revenge, but Sonnie offers a different reason. In fact, that’s a pivotal moment in the story. Right before some great twists!
The episode involves gladiatorial matches involving bio-monsters.
Sonnie has gone on an insane winning streak and is looking to notch another win. However, an old, aristocratic man, who appears to have some semblance of power over the games attempts to undermine her purpose and force her to throw the match. She doesn’t back down.
As the episode continues, you see just how strong she really is despite her horrific past. She overcomes a number of obstacles to reach her goal. You’re definitely cheering for her by the end of the episode and wanting more of her story.
But Robinson still wasn’t done. She would conclude:
“We see women’s bodies in disturbing, threatening scenarios, where very real trauma is used as a prop. The series flagrantly flaunts its unwillingness to get with the times, and the people involved really should know better.”
This is probably her worst take of the entire article. The series shows women overcoming a number of threats and meeting them head on whether its gunning down aliens, outwitting a rich aristocrat, or even providing comfort to a lost soul in space.
Love Death + Robots is a great series and I highly recommend. If Netflix is smart, they will be creating full fledged series based off some of these episodes. That’s how rich and rewarding the animation, storytelling, and characterization was.
What do you make of Robinson’s criticisms of Love Death + Robots? Do you think it’s valid or do you think she’s way off the mark?