The Time Traveler’s Wife is dealing with some present-day criticism. 

Theo James and Rose Leslie star in the new HBO Max adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger‘s 2003 novel about Henry (James), a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably and his wife Clare (Leslie) who is forced to adapt to life while he’s gone. 

At certain points of the story Henry travels to the past and spends time with Clare as a child, raising red flags that he groomed her to be his wife. Grooming is the act of building emotional trust and connection with someone in order to later take advantage of the person, often in exploitative and abusive ways.

Critics have taken issue with the plot point. The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Carla Meyer wrote in her review: “With its Twilight-level trite dialogue and worldview, lack of adventures and alleged love story that is more like a grooming story.”‘s Nandini Balial agreed, writing: “the pair strike up what the series would like to call a friendship, but I prefer to think of it as straight-up grooming. From ages 6 to 18, [Clare], in her own words, shapes her libido around Henry.”

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