The Sandman. (L to R) Tom Sturridge as Dream, Stephen Fry as Gilbert in episode 110 of The Sandman.

‘The Sandman’s Denizens of The Dreaming Should Unionize

Somebody call SAG-AFTRA.

Netflix’s series version of Neil Gaiman’s ‘The Sandman’ is a stunning achievement in comics adaptations. From the writing to the visual effects to the terrific casting, the series is a feast for the senses, and may go down as one of the best comic book to television series of all time. But as I binged the series, I was struck by two undeniable truths. The first is that Morpheus/The Dream sucks as a boss. And the second is that his creations and the citizens of The Dreaming desperately need a union.

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Allow me to explain. I realize that Morpheus is the lord/king/ruler of The Dreaming, as the rest of his siblings rule their respective realms of the Endless. But when Lucifer (Gwendoline Christie) herself has more loyalty and employee satisfaction, you’ve got to know you’re a crap boss. Talk about Girlboss, Gaslight, Gate(s of Hell)keep.

Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar in episode 104 of The Sandman.
(Laurence Cendrowicz/Netflix)

I know that Morpheus is still recovering from the trauma of his over 100 year imprisonment, so naturally his mind isn’t on his work. But what kind of corporate structure leaves the The Dreaming to fend for itself without any chain of command? The responsibility for maintaining The Dreaming falls on librarian Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong) and you know she’s not getting paid overtime. And she’s not the only resident of The Dreaming paying the price for Morpheus’s kidnapping. Cain (Sanjeev Bhaskar) and Abel (Ashim Chaudhry) must sacrifice their beloved pet gargoyle Gregory so that Morpheus can have enough dream juice to summon the Fates. Imagine if your boss was missing for a century, then he comes back with no explanation and kills your dog. UNACCEPTABLE. Also, this is why we celebrate Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), freelance queen.

But the real case for dream unionization comes from the three missing Major Arcana. First, there’s Gault (Ann Ogbomo) the Shapeshifter, a nightmare that longs to be a dream. It is Gault who has been looking after Jed Walker in The Dreaming, creating a refuge for the abused boy to escape his horrific living conditions via a fantasy where Jed is comic book superhero The Sandman. Gault also takes on the form of Miranda Walker (Andi Osho), Jed’s mother, to provide a comforting and familiar visage for the boy. But once Morpheus catches up with Gault, he dissolves her into nothingness. So, protecting an abused child is an offense punishable by death? Morpheus later recognizes his mistake and recreates Gault to be a Dream. But it’s still a dick move.

The Sandman. Ann Ogbomo as Gault in episode 108 of The Sandman.

The next is Gilbert/Fiddler’s Green (Stephen Fry), a beautiful patch of landscape that comes to Earth to experience life as a human. Because apparently there are no vacation days or paid time off in The Dreaming. Gilbert had to wait until his boss was AWOL before he could go to Florida and enjoy a drag show. And while he was there he protects Rose Walker (Kyo Ra) purely out of the goodness of his leafy heart. Give that beautiful manscape a promotion already!

The Sandman. (L to R) Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, Stephen Fry as Gilbert in episode 109 of The Sandman.

And finally, there’s vicious nightmare The Corinthian (Boyd Holbrook), a serial killer who has cut a wide swath of destruction across the world in Dream’s absence. The Corinthian is an absolute nightmare that must be stopped, but isn’t he as Dream made him? Isn’t it Dream’s fault The Corinthian exists in the first place?

The Sandman. (L to R) Eddie Karanja as Jed Walker, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian in episode 108 of The Sandman.
(Liam Daniel/Netflix)

Look, we all make mistakes at work. One time I changed all the text of The Mary Sue to be Italics. But few mistakes rival “create a notorious serial killer, let him loose, and let him inspire generations of serial killers to the point that he’s a keynote speaker at a serial killer convention”.

By the end of season one, Morpheus has come to terms with his mistakes and sets about rectifying his wrongs. He recreates The Dreaming, gives Cain and Abel a baby gargoyle, and grants Gault wings. He’s doing the best he can, and he’s even addressing his own ego and self-styled pity party. It’s like a fantastical episode of Undercover Boss. As for season two, Morpheus should do the right thing for his creations: a generous ghost maternity leave, paid time off, and gargoyle eggs for all. It’s the least a good boss could do.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.