A few weeks ago, I tried (re)watching Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland and if I wasn’t stuck on a two hour bus ride, I would have turned the film off. To be honest, I don’t like Tim Burton’s work, but my feelings for the director aside, I desperately want to like Alice in Wonderland.
It’s a speculative fiction story with a female hero! It’s a speculative fiction story with a young female hero and it was published in 1865. The story pits female hero against a female villain. Yet, even with a female driven cast, I cannot watch Tim Burton’s version. I find his artistic style ridiculous. I cannot watch the animated Disney version either because I find the story cutesy and frankly more boring than enjoyable. And though I’ve been saying for years that I will read adaptations like The Looking Glass Wars (as well as adaptations by female authors), I haven’t lived up to that promise.
But, in 2009, SyFy premiered Alice, a two part mini series.
This not an Alice I was familiar with. She is older, probably in her early twenties or so. She is brunette and strikingly different from the blonde wide eyed youth she is in the Disney films and other adaptations. Yet, she maintains curiosity balanced with a young woman’s determination to be rational and choose wisely for her future. From the start, this Alice is new.
She is a woman who chooses her own adventure, diving into Wonderland to save her kidnapped boyfriend. This is a character to see yourself in because she has vulnerabilities, she has a life beyond her boyfriend, and she truly is the hero. The challenges of the series are catered to challenge her. She carries this story.
To be fair, the series is not racially diverse and (like most media) focuses on a heterosexual couple. Not everyone will be able to view Alice as representative of a female experience. But she is the closest representation I have found of a complex woman within the Alice and Wonderland franchise.
In the future, I hope to read stories about an Alice of color, a queer Alice, a disabled Alice, or any intersection of these or other identities. Let me know if these stories exist! Let me know if you’re writing them.