Ahead of its imminent premiere on HBO, The Time Traveler's Wife creator Steven Moffat discussed criticisms that the show promoted grooming.
For context, the series follows Clare (Rose Leslie) and Henry's (Theo James) relationship — with the added twist that Henry is, you know, a time traveler. From Henry's perspective, he meets Clare for the first time when they're both in their 20s. From Clare's perspective, she meets Henry when he's in his 30s and she's six — and he continues to appear in her life throughout her childhood and adolescence.
"A man over 30 essentially raising his future wife, from age 6, to be his perfect partner has even more uncomfortable connotations now than it would have in 2003," one review from Time said. "The pair strike up what the series would like to call a friendship, but I prefer to think of it as straight-up grooming," another review from Roger Ebert's website reads.
“That’s not what the story is in the book or the film or the TV show. He’s married to her,” Steven told TV Line.
“He meets her as an adult, he falls in love with her, he gets married to her, and then he’s flung back in time, through no fault of his own, and is confronted with the childhood version of the woman he already loves. Even more so in the TV show version, he absolutely makes it clear that he’s just a friend.”
According to Steven, when Henry visits six-year-old Clare, he is “a responsible man, so he has tremendously strict rules about this" — such as not saying that he's her future husband.
There's apparently even a conversation about who groomed who in one of the episodes. “If one of them changes the other, Clare changes Henry,” Steven continued. “Clare is exactly the same person as a little girl as she is when you see her in her seventies. Henry flows around Clare like a river around a rock. He makes himself the man she wants him to be because he loves her.”
WELL, guess we'll see when the show hits HBO Max on May 15?