The Wheel of Time is the Kind of Woke Programming That I like

The Wheel of Time television show on Amazon Prime has recently taken the world by storm. Based on the massive high fantasy book series written by Robert Jordan at the turn of the century, there has been a lot of anticipation for this to come out with the hopes that it might be the next ‘Game of Thrones’. What it actually turned out to be is something else entirely that has had viewers very divided — a breaking of the world if you will that exactly captures what the coming of the Dragon Reborn is supposed to do.

There has been a lot of nervousness amongst book readers in regards to its adaptation for a number of reasons. With the world of Wheel of Time being so complex and the book series so long at over 10000 pages, some have been worried whether it would be done the justice it deserves. Others have been worried about it being hijacked by current woke trends popular in Hollywood culture right now.

My expectations for the show were low to try saving myself from the disappointment that was sure to come. I had read all of the books as an adult and absolutely loved them. Having read most of the popular fantasies titles of the time as a kid, they were some of the most well written material I had encountered to date. Whether they would make for an engaging tv show though was something I was not sure of. My biggest concern was that because of how fantastical the books are that the show might come off as cheesy or childish.

The show was neither cheesy or childish. The actors were actually cast a little older than they were in the books, giving the show more a young adult feel to it, and they performed wonderfully. The colors and sets were gorgeous, with the elements of fire earth water air and spirit all being present and almost tangible even outside of the scenes with magic. The trollocs are scary and even occasionally brutal in battle.

It turned out to be a lot better than I expected it to be with my only complaint being with the pacing. With so many new characters, concepts, and organizations being introduced, it felt a bit rushed for people who were not familiar with the books. There were some plot changes, but understandable ones that did not dramatically change the story and in my opinion actually enhanced some of the themes. My watch party with both book readers and newbies all relatively enjoyed it. I loved the vibe.

So my surprise was genuine when I logged onto the internet to see all of the chaos erupting around the fanbase. The book purists complaining about plot changes was understandable. I expected that. What I did not expect was some of the toxic arguments being made about the show pushing a “woke” agenda.

In regards to The Wheel of Time, the woke agenda being pushed generally refers to three things: female characters being more powerful or dominant than men; the equal representation of gay and lesbian characters; and a multi racial non white dominant cast. The argument appears to be that these current trends in Hollywood being present in the show overshadow the story itself. Some have even gone as far to say that the show is nothing more than fan fiction at this point.

I will admit at having done some eye rolling with the movies and shows coming out in recent years. It does appear that the politics behind some recent art is more the point than the show itself — that there is in fact an agenda to push some of the ideas previously mentioned. To a lot of people these might seem like good things, but in practice makes the product little more than propaganda. Well constructed propaganda maybe that we enjoy watching, but propaganda nonetheless.

Where I find fault with these complaints is in the fact that these elements were already present in the books. It would make sense if people were mad about these things being artificially woven into the story. Maybe a little bit they are being more heavily emphasized. The Wheel of Time is a racially diverse world with many cultures in it. Any notion that the town the main characters is from should have been all one race is all entirely concocted in the imagination of the reader. The all female Aes Sedai organization so obviously had a dominant edge over the warders that they bonded. The female village wisdoms had equal power to the men in town as well.

The representation of gay people was maybe a little less clear in the books than it is in the show. However there is very obvious references that the woman in the white tower were in same sex relationships in their youth, if you know what to look for. Robert Jordan calls them pillow friends. As for the green ajah having relations with their many bonded male warders — well, it only makes sense that some of those men might have been intimate with each other as well. That is an inference of course but a very logical one that only a naïve person would be incapable of perceiving. Whether you agree with homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle is besides the point. Homosexual relationships exists and it being not represented in a modern show would be in itself odd, particularly where there are so many obvious openings for depicting them here.

These objections that people are having seem petty and fault finding, as superfans of anything often can be. It is important to note that even though some of these sexuality things are alluded to, there is yet to be anything of a graphic nature like seen in other fantasy shows. The show actually feels wholesome. The presence of some these things which are so often labeled as political even by myself in the past seem more authentic and natural here than I have ever seen before. This really feels like a show that people from all over the world from all different backgrounds can move forward with in to the future.

Like I said before, the changes being made to the plot, including whole scenes that are either omitted or substituted, do not compromise the themes of the show. The overall plot is still intact. The themes about the one Power, gender struggles, the Pattern of the universe, the difference between walking in the Light and serving the Shadow, are all there and even deeply elaborated on the x-ray notes. Rafe Judkins the showrunner obviously shows how much he cares about doing the best he can in interviews such as the one he did on Reddit a few weeks ago.

People are being way too quick to criticize a process they do not fully understand. A massive undertaking such as this show take thousands of people and millions of dollars to make. Its marketability is at stake and shareholders, who might not have much interest in the books or its fans, need to be convinced that this is a product worth investing in. A 14 book series needs to be crunched into what will probably be an 8 season show at most if it is successful and it needs to be able to compete with what else is currently popular. In order to truly be done justice, the show will really need more than 8 seasons, which means these early seasons need to do really well and make a LOT of money.

It will take some time but I believe that eventually the majority of the fandom will come around to being okay with what we have been given. It could be much worse. It is far from being an Eragon flop. The show has done its best with setting up the universe as quick and precisely as it can and ensuring that it will be renewed for future seasons when they might have more flexibility to expand on more material that is essential to the story. The budget will get bigger and the seasons will get longer. Bigger actors will take notice and want to be cast as powerful characters later on. The potential is as limitless as the One Power itself, as long as we do not draw too much of it too quickly and burn ourselves out.

To be clear, this is not the next Game of Thrones. The Wheel of Time does not use gratuitous violence, perverse sexual content, and morally bankrupt protagonists to lure in viewers. The first season of Game of Thrones might be better than this first season of The Wheel of Time is from a technical standpoint. The Wheel of Time though will be a better show overall, if I may be so bold to say so. Game of Thrones changed its tone dramatically in the last few seasons when it ran out of source material, it raced to adapt to woke culture, and the major actors and actresses became eager to move on from the show to do other things with their career. The last few episodes infuriated fans to the point millions of them signed a petition for a new ending.

This will not happen to The Wheel of Time.

The Wheel of Time is setting a new tone and code of morality for the new era that is richer and deeper than anything we have had before. At the end of the decade we will look back at it being an important part of the Great Reset and be thankful for everyone that was a part of making it happen the way that it did.

And anyone who does not believe that is a darkfriend.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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Shawn Mason

Shawn Mason

front desk clerk at the Ridgeline Hotel in Gardiner, Montana next to the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park.