After Reviews Call Out 'Grooming' In The Time Traveler's Wife, Writer Steven Moffat Responds To The Criticism

Theo James and Rose Leslie on The Time Traveler's Wife
(Image credit: HBO)

If you're a sci-fi, romance and/or Doctor Who fan, chances are you are freaking out right now. That's because Steven Moffat and HBO's The Time Traveler's Wife, based on the popular book by Audrey Niffenegger, has just premiered. The novel has a large fan base (which was arguably boosted by the theatrical adaptation), though it has been called out for its central relationship, as many view it as "grooming." Moffat has now responded to this criticism.

Steven Moffat is no stranger to science fiction-based romances, having helped create the fan-favorite relationship between Doctor Who’s The Doctor and Rose Tyler. His take on Henry and Clare’s time traveling love story in The Time Traveler’s Wife is something some viewers may marvel at in the same way. However, when reviews for the HBO show dropped, many reviewers took issue the fact that an adult Henry visits Clare many times when she is a child (sometimes naked) via time travel. In an interview with TV Line, Moffat pushed back against the notion of "grooming" and explained his approach to handling the main couple's relationship during Claire's childhood:

That’s not what the story is in the book or the film or the TV show. He’s married to her. 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.

Steven Moffat’s train of thought may mirror the thinking that Audrey Niffenegger had when she wrote book. Henry did not fall in love with Clare when she was a child When he met her as an adult of 20 years old, he fell in love with her, setting the stage for their romance.

Someone may still mention one thing, though: Would Clare still love Henry if she wasn’t so acquainted with him during her childhood? It's a fair question and one that does honestly make this a fairly complicated situation from a storytelling perspective. 

All in all, it seems that viewers are hoping for a passionate and nuanced romance to be formed over the course of the show. Not many people would deny that Steven Moffat has the experience to craft that very thing, given his work with The Doctor (who he doesn’t plan to return to.) Though only time will tell how his take on The Time Traveler's Wife (and the responses to it) will continue to play out.

New episodes of The Time Traveler’s Wife, a six-part series air Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which can also be streamed if you happen to posses an HBO Max subscription. You can also check out CinemaBlend's 2022 TV schedule to find out about this year's other big small-screen premieres.

Carlie Hoke
Content Writer

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.