HBO's new epic fantasy adventure, a steampunk ensemble series called The Nevers, has a lot of characters to keep track of in the first episode alone. Since this is an original story, meaning we're all learning the lore of this supernatural world of "the touched" together, but we can catalogue everything we know so far.
The biggest who, unfortunately, at the centre of The Nevers is creator Joss Whedon. Allegations against Whedon has been building for several years: in 2017 his now ex-wife Kai Cole wrote about his infidelity and hypocritical feminism, in 2020 Ray Fisher alleged racism and bullying on the set of The Justice League, and in 2021 Charisma Carpenter made claims about on-set abuse and wrongful termination on the set of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. (Whedon has not commented on the above allegations.) But as it turns out, The Nevers will only be a Whedon project for a few episodes: he left the project and was replaced by screenwriter Philippa Goslett mid-way through the first season. Still, the elephant in the room makes this one a tricky watch.
The sad irony of The Nevers debuting on HBO (Sky Atlantic in the UK) — its sibling streaming service HBO Max just released Zack Snyder's Justice League, an attempt to reclaim "The Snyder Cut" from Whedon's controversial edits and reshoots — is not lost when you're watching the new series. The Nevers makes use of tropes that have been simmering in Whedon's writing for years: a fascination with "unstable" murderous women, characters who make sexist jokes for shock or comedic effect, infantilizing femininity, and a lack of racial diversity.
However, everyone is entitled to engage with work from problematic creators in their own way. You may find yourself compelled to watch The Nevers regardless of what we now know about its creator, or feel safe in the knowledge that Whedon is no longer involved. The cast and characters of the HBO series, at least, can certainly stand on their own.