I think I know why. Ours is a transformational world, and to that extent Dollhouse should speak to us.
But there are two kinds of transformation: involuntary and voluntary. We hate the former. We love the latter even more.
Which transformation is Dollhouse about? It's about a woman (Eliza Dushku, pictured) trapped in an endless series of involuntary transformations. A mysterious corporation wipes her soul, inserts a new persona, and hires her out. This is the stuff of our worst realities and dreams.
The trouble is not that we can not identify with "Echo." The problem is we can identify too well. We too have been the captives of forced transformations, and it gives us no comfort to see someone else endure this horrible condition.
I hate to be a know-it-all, especially with someone as smart and culture shifting as Whedon, but I told you so. (Specifically see pages 253-273 of Transformations for an account of how voluntary transformation works and pages 236-253 for an account of involuntary transformation.)
I can't help feeling that if Fox had had a Chief Culture Officer it might well have spared Wheedon and itself this unhappy end.
McCracken, Grant. 2008. Transformations: managing identity in contemporary culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Seidman, Robert. 2009. Say Goodbye to Dollhouse, part II: The DVR number won't matter. October 3, 2009. here.