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The Wheel of Time’s Gender Bending TV Show

Sprite

(He/Him/His)

I’m really curious to see how this turns out, as the book series feels unfilmable to me. I assume cuts will be numerous and vast.

I’m also interested in how they’ll handle the 90s-era gender politics. The books do make it possible to queer things while holding on to the lore’s gender essentialism, though it’s tricky to do that without getting into some pretty problematic territory. There’s one bit in particular I’m really worried about.

I’m also worried about Amazon committing to both this and a LOTR series, as there’s no way they’ll want to maintain both of those.

Also the casting is pretty diverse for a fantasy series, which is refreshing.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Neat. I hope it's good. I never did finish the books when I was a kid... I think I stalled out somewhere around the eighth or ninth book. I remember liking them, though I can barely remember anything about them (I was pretty young).

And yeah, it will be interesting to see how they deal with the gender stuff...
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
(He, Him)
As long as some braids get tugged and skirts get smoothed every five minutes, it’ll be faithful.
 

ThornGhost

lofi posts to relax/study to
(he/him)
I'll definitely give this a watch as it starts. I have read the whole series, met Robert Jordan when he was still alive, met Brando Sando about a decade back (we're talking one-on-one discussions with both here, not in line at a signing), bought and played the PC game when it was new, bought and played the card game. You could say I'm pretty invested in the Wheel of Time series.

But! All that was quite a while ago. I haven't thought about WoT a whole lot lately. In fact at all! Sprite is right, there is some 90s ass gender politics at the very beating heart of this series that I've never thought about in light of topics like trans rights. And a lot of what I'm thinking about it is pretty bad.

I do think the series was, in its day, very forward thinking and defied expectations for a fantasy series. In fact I think it would be quite unlike Wheel of Time to not be able to bring that spirit to a truthful adaptation of the show. I completely think there's a way to make this work and be just as progressive and inclusive now as it was then, even if that materially means different things. The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and pass.

Rebuild of Wheel of Time, here we come. 1.11 You Are (Not) The Dragon Reborn.
 
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Sprite

(He/Him/His)
It’s definitely progressive for its time, and I think the lore is salvageable. The books stress over and over that cultures’ perception of reality is limited and flawed.
As long as some braids get tugged and skirts get smoothed every five minutes, it’ll be faithful.
Here’s hoping we get a few smiles that never touch their eyes
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Yeah, for all of the big epic fantasy trappings the series spent the vast amount of its non-purple prose length on deconstructing and reexamining a whole bunch of epic fantasy tropes. The three male leads are all very careful studies and examinations of the usual epic fantasy leads, and the same is true for a lot of the major female characters. I think as long as the creators are willing to keep that spirit alive and engage with the material appropriately, the show can probably escape most of those potential pitfalls.

I completely forgot about that one villain who got murked almost offhandedly by the heroes and then got resurrected by the Big Bad as a woman just to fuck with them though, yeah, that's one of the more questionable bits alongside the sub- and plain-textual gender essentialism themes running throughout the books.
 

Bongo

excused from moderation duty
(he/him)
Staff member
Jordan always seemed to be like he was making a conscious effort to express a progressive ethos according to the thought of his day, and had he lived I choose to believe he'd have had something good to say about how being trans fits into the cosmology of the series. It's fortunate for this adaptation that the most problematic episodes have few consequences and are thus easy targets to be cut in the necessary abridgement.

I can't believe Jeff Bezos personally pranked me by making that teaser look good.
 

Sprite

(He/Him/His)
It is nice that homosexuality is just a fact of life in the series, and viewed as perfectly normal by most people.
 

Gaer

chat.exe a cessé de fonctionner
Staff member
Moderator
It was always total bullshit that women were less powerful than men at magic. Oh but “a bloo bloo bloo, any thirteen women no matter how weak can stop a man!!!”
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Like I said, there's a whole lot of gender essentialism running through the books which is pretty of a piece of the 90s. Honestly, the whole yin/yang magic thing from top to bottom is just bad in that respect starting with the different ways men and women control their magic. And yes, I get the joke is that women are supposed to embrace and submit to their magic when most female mages are all generally hard assed puppetmasters and most male mages are gentle souls who just want to be left the fuck alone as they have to dominate their magic in turn.

The Aes Sedai and their later male counterparts are probably the biggest problem spots and weakest parts of the books.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I wrote a big weird, kind of whiny post for this thread when I was drunk last night, but I'll just say I remain a big fan of this book series, I think it has held up well when judged again its contemporaries (which is a way of saying that it is still a product of the late 80s/early 90s), and I am very excited to watch the show.

Honestly, rather than being unfilmable, other than being very long I think it translates to screen very well. It has storytelling cadences reminiscent of both action movies and sitcoms in places.
 
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Sprite

(He/Him/His)
By “unfilmable” I just mean there is far, far more material than any show could cover.

I loved the books and definitely think Robert Jordan was trying to be as progressive as he could.
 

shivam

commander damage
(he/hiim)
i loved the books, and i loved this trailer, and i respect and understand the places jordan fell short and was a product of the time, but man, everything about this is just so rad. The multicultural casting fills me with joy.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
They dropped a trailer this time (what differentiates a teaser from a trailer I don't know, because this is the same length as the previous video). I want to see more, but generally I am liking what I'm seeing.

 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
The line is fuzzy but generally a "trailer" has more information about the plot and characters than a "teaser".
 

Sprite

(He/Him/His)
Already one major change re: gender in that trailer that makes me hopeful. The Dragon Reborn can be female. In the books the Dragon has to be male, right? It won't have any real bearing on the plot but it definitely has big lore implications.

Also, holy cow but Nynaeve's hair is on freaking point.
 

YangusKhan

does the Underpants Dance
(He/Him/His)
I don't know anything about this series, and to be honest that trailer is pretty generic, so if I didn't know this was an acclaimed fantasy epic, I probably wouldn't give it the time of day otherwise. But I also don't have Prime anyway so I don't know if I will end up watching it.
 

Jeanie

(Fem or Gender Neutral)
Already one major change re: gender in that trailer that makes me hopeful. The Dragon Reborn can be female. In the books the Dragon has to be male, right? It won't have any real bearing on the plot but it definitely has big lore implications.

Also, holy cow but Nynaeve's hair is on freaking point.
Re: the spoiler stuff.

Yes, the Dragon has to be male, since the Taint on the Male half of the Source is a big dang deal.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
Always funny to read about tasting the oily taint.

I tapped out of WoT about six books in but I'd watch the televised adventures of Randall Thor.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it appears the show is going to use the term 'corruption' instead of 'taint'.

The trailer is keeping it pretty generic, but I think it is difficult to communicate what makes the series good (and not just generic fantasy) in a 2 minute trailer. Especially when the show is leaning on the "who is the Dragon reborn?" angle, which the books feint at (hint: they are looking for the character who is the sole viewpoint character for the first half of the book), and leaving aside the part where the Dragon is equally savior and destroyer and people are understandably not too happy with his rebirth.
 

Sprite

(He/Him/His)
I believe they’re situating Moiraine as the main character of season one, which I like.

Marketing is definitely going to be tricky. My biggest concern is how Amazon is also doing a LoTR show, and I can’t imagine they’ll want to bankroll two prestige fantasy series for very long.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
Will they? These shows are expensive and they're probably looking at whether they drive Prime memberships at all.
 

Rascally Badger

El Capitan de la outro espacio
(He/Him)
That would be what makes them hits. As long as the shows are doing well in whatever metrics Amazon judges them by, I would guess Amazon will keep making both of them.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
Will they? These shows are expensive and they're probably looking at whether they drive Prime memberships at all.
They're expensive, yes. But for a company the size of Amazon (revenue $386 billion in 2020, net income $21.3 billion), it's still relatively trivial. They could make 11 Wheel of Time-level shows ($80-$90 million depending on reports) for just one of those billions.

They're doubled up on other material, also; The Boys and Invincible are similar territory. Watch one and you probably watch the other; but if you don't watch both, and you like superheroes, you still probably watch one. LOTR and WOT together will catch a lot of people that one or the other might not. Same principle as Prime itself. If you're a Prime member primarily for shows, then you probably shop at Amazon sometimes. If you're a Prime member for shopping, you probably watch shows sometimes. Either feeds the other; I doubt it matters much to them which it is so long as members stay on.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
LotR and WoT are a lot more expensive than The Boys and Invisible. I'm just saying what passes for a "hit" as far as getting renewed is a lot more nebulous in the world of streaming.
 

Sarcasmorator

Same as I ever was
(He/him)
Invincible's probably pretty cheap, but The Boys is $10M per episode, in the same realm as WOT.

Amazon's already committed to five seasons of LOTR already (part of the terms of the rights deal, apparently). They're supposedly budgeted a billion upfront for LOTR ($250M just for the rights; they're not going to cancel that show on a whim). If anything gets cut off early, it'll be WOT. But WOT is likely to bring in a big audience too. And, crucially, it's coming first, by almost a year. If it's a flop, it won't be because of direct LOTR competition.
 
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Sprite

(He/Him/His)
Oh hey, this started and I didn’t even notice. Three episodes out so far. I watched the first one and it seems decent. Nynaeve is perfect. I love how, once the initial panic subsides, the Two Rivers folks are like “let’s friggin’ gooo” and just start beating up monsters with farm tools. That one death was kind of puzzling, though.
 
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