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"I still have Buffy taste in my mouth."
March 11, 2012 9:17 PM   Subscribe

On the 15th anniversary of the TV debut of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, an interview with James Marsters, reflecting on his time on the show, and his relationship to it.
posted by ZeusHumms (236 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
And I was just thinking I should rematch that.

Sans season one of course...
posted by The Whelk at 9:26 PM on March 11, 2012


Oh man I just started my trek through it again, and the love I accumulated for the characters by the end is making the beginning much more enjoyable. Just watched Spike's first appearance a few days ago. It's a good interview, too.

Also I kind of love Willow.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:30 PM on March 11, 2012


When they aired the series premiere, they had a special History of the Slayers opening.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:36 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've also been thinking about a rewatch, although I'd start with season 1, because what happens after is so much awesomer after the...unevenness that was the first season.
posted by rtha at 9:42 PM on March 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Uneven is a very diplomatic way to put it.

I have internalized way too much of the Buffy series to be rational about it in any way. I was a Junior in High School when they decided to run back to back reruns every weekday pretty much right when I'd be settling in after school and I Devoured Them All and like had to go to a friend's house to watch the new season premiere cause they had a bigger TV and my first year of college happened when the last season premiered and I out up POSTERS asking if anyone else wanted to watch the show in the common room with me and I got like four die hard fans in that room for the premiere and long story short this is why the Sundays' version of Wild Horses makes me cry.
posted by The Whelk at 9:49 PM on March 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


i started rewatching again recently. the next episode i have to watch is the musical. i'm holding off for a day when i really need it.

that was a great interview, top to bottom, thanks for posting it. also, have those cassette tapes ever seen the light of day? i would love to hear what the first drafts of joss and his wife sounded like.
posted by nadawi at 9:49 PM on March 11, 2012


It's interesting that he says he'll work on another Joss Whedon project without question, but that he says he's too old to play Spike believably (live I guess).
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:49 PM on March 11, 2012


On the 15th anniversary of the TV debut of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

On the 15th anniversary

15th
posted by dirigibleman at 10:01 PM on March 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


Yeah, I just mentioned this to a few friends who are sitting in my kitchen playing Apples to Apples, and they all gave me that "what the fuck are you serious fuck you" look.

The one ep I'll probably skip is The Body. It aired a few years after my mom died, and all I remember really is hours of helpless sobbing after I watched it.
posted by rtha at 10:10 PM on March 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


The musical episode is my favorite. So many double entendres that showcase some really funny writing and deep storytelling, underneath the veneer of fantasy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 PM on March 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


The season 8 comics are worth reading if you like you some Buffy. The characters and dialog felt right to me, and always spoke in their voices in my head as I read.
posted by flaterik at 10:18 PM on March 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have a fondness for Bad Eggs, which is so slight and light and charming you can forget how it's a soild, totally predicatabke and formulaic and yet very entertaining trifle. I use it to get people into the series a loot.
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 PM on March 11, 2012


Ok, now I'm just going to be mean and rub it in, but I got to see the Joss panel here at SXSW the other day, and you know what struck me? He really, REALLY does talk like that. And I have seen every Buffy ep a gazillion times (hello, my cats are named Spike and Giles), not to mention everything else the man has done and...well, he's just so smart and funny and quick that I left the panel wanting to go home and watch them all AGAIN.

He is seriously underappreciated, is Joss Whedon.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:24 PM on March 11, 2012


Poking around, I found some behind the scenes interviews from The Prom episode. Wish I could find actual clips from the episode.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:25 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also Witch from the first season is good cause Amy gets the award for best character bizarrely manhandled, but there is a difference going on here ....are you trying to convince a person that something called Buffy The Vampire Slayer could be good TV or are you trying to convince someone that it has merit beyond being a show about vampires on UPN? You show Bad Eggs to one and Hush to the other.

Hmm, wait what is the best episode to get people hooked on Buffy? I've done it a few times, but there was always a pep talk before hand on who is evil or ensouled or secretly in love or working against them- life if they had no background, what would be the episode you introduce them to to get them into it?
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 PM on March 11, 2012


Hush is in my top five best TV episodes ever.

I don't think I have the objectivity required to rec the best ep to get a n00b hooked.
posted by rtha at 10:31 PM on March 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


He made it very clear he did not want the show to be taken over by another romantic vampire. He was not enamored with vampires and that's putting it mildly.

To Joss, vampires were supposed to be ugly, evil, and quick to be killed. He got talked into one romantic vampire by his writing partner David Greenwalt and that was Angel.


Hah! And they became key parts of the show and even led to a spinoff. I wonder what he thinks about Twilight.
posted by eye of newt at 10:32 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm, also this has comeup organically in conversation but Buffy is one of the few Superfolk in genre fiction on TV to actually have like stresss PTSD cause her job requires her to kill things and have her loved ones kidnapped and magic and demons and she is so not dealing with it well.
posted by The Whelk at 10:33 PM on March 11, 2012


Yeah, I watched it from the beginning. I stopped after Tara was killed because it upset me so, but swung back in for the end. I loved that show (and one of these days I have to retrieve the box set from my son, who sneakily stole it when he moved to another city).
posted by jokeefe at 10:37 PM on March 11, 2012


Marsters seems like a really nice guy. And it's not really surprising that Joss Whedon didn't like his character, since Spike so often got the business on that show, with all the beatings and microchippings and relapses into evil that he endured.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:53 PM on March 11, 2012


I really liked the scene in some late season episode where they are trying to explain Spike to the new principle. Highlighting the ridiculousness is fun.
posted by flaterik at 11:01 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Buffy (the series) got away with the self aware stuff because it worked so well as entertainment. The stories were fun and the characters had heart, so it could do all kinds of things that would have been classified as Jumping The Shark on other shows.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:06 PM on March 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sans season one of course...

I feel like we've had this discussion here before, but come on, season one was uneven but it had some great eps. The two-part pilot is pretty good, The Pack is an early good one, Angel is a key mytharc ep, Puppet Show had several high-larious scenes, and Prophecy Girl is one of the show's best eps, period.

I got to see the Joss panel here at SXSW the other day

Ooh, did you also get to see Cabin in the Woods? No spoilers please, but is it as good as the early buzz indicates?
posted by kmz at 12:09 AM on March 12, 2012


Like others, Buffy is a show that was such a formative part of my middle-to-high school years that I also have trouble thinking about it rationally; even seeing flaws, I can only love it. Trying to come to terms with that 15th anniversary is one of those moments that makes me feel suddenly old. I also associate the show so much with some the lasting friendships from that era that included bonding over it that I sometimes feel via transference that the characters are practically friends. It doesn't help that I'm pretty much a more socially adept Willow - rambling redheaded Jew known as the school brain - heck, we got the exact same scores on our SATs, and the fact that I know that is probably the most pathetic thing anyone's ever admitted to on MeFi, but it made high school me happy. Willow, Giles, and Spike are favourites, so this was a great interview to read.

One of my oldest friends and I are currently taking my fiance through the series for the first time, and we celebrated the 15th anniversary by finishing Season 3 today. I'm really glad he's enjoying it, because I jokingly told him that we couldn't get married if he didn't. He actually proposed on Monday, the day after we watched Doppelgangland, and I'm not saying it was because of Buffy, but I'm not *not* saying it, either. (Okay, not really.) Uh, sorry, yes. Rambling. Should this be a quiet moment?
posted by ilana at 12:15 AM on March 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


the most pathetic thing anyone's ever admitted to on MeFi

Not pathetic. Nerdily awesome.
posted by flaterik at 12:22 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I cannot wait for my spawn to get old enough -- and media/trope-savvy enough -- for me to introduce them to Buffy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:29 AM on March 12, 2012


I don't understand how it can be so taken for granted that Season 1 of Buffy is bad. Is it just a way for people to watch a teen drama about vampires and still feel discriminating? It's a perfectly fine season - better than 7, 4 (I hate 4), and probably 6.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:03 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


They did a top twenty episodes weekend a while ago. The top twenty episodes as voted by viewers were:

1. The musical one.
2. Hush
3. Vampire Willow
4. Most of season 2.

Which is interesting.
posted by zoo at 1:04 AM on March 12, 2012


Season four, episode Superstar -

Spike: "I wasn't exactly pining for a noisy visit from Wonder Jonathan and his fluffy battle kittens."

Something about the phrase "Fluffy Battle Kitten(s)" just struck me as being SO RIGHT.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:26 AM on March 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't understand how it can be so taken for granted that Season 1 of Buffy is bad.

Well, there's a school of thought that thinks season 1 is bad and the show got better. There's another school (which I belong to) that loved the show as long as it was a silly and oddly trenchant high-school show and the further it got from that the worse it got, with seasons 6 and 7 being almost total glurge with just a few good-to-decent episodes sprinkled in.
posted by furiousthought at 1:28 AM on March 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


The episode where Xander turns into a hyena was a lot of fun. He really turned out a cute Matt Dillon impression in that one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The episode where Xander turns into a hyena was a lot of fun.

That was "The Pack". It also had one of the first truly Holy Shit Moments when the hyenas ate the principal.
posted by kmz at 1:46 AM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Season 1 does some silly/dumb TV stuff that the show would later avoid, like the end of an episode teasing that The Threat Is Not Truly Over and then never, ever following up on it, like the mantis eggs or Marcie. Season 1 also has the demon in the internet, which is one of the stupidest things ever to air as part of an otherwise good series.

My roommate never saw Buffy, so a mutual friend's been coming over and we've been going through the show a few episodes at a time. They're going to have to watch The Body alone; I'm getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about it, and the first time I saw it cried like a baby.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:49 AM on March 12, 2012


Hey, if you're not jacked in, you're not alive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:53 AM on March 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's another school

I'm more of the school that it's one long arc for the actors and writers -- it takes them a while to figure out what they do well, what works and doesn't, and so on -- then they hit their stride, and, by Season 4, they really have it down, and the writers start to get bored. They do something different with Season 5, which mostly works, but then they kind of run out of ideas -- there's not so much character-driven nonsense in the last two seasons that drags things down; it's the writers are desperately trying to find something to keep their interest. Or that's how I would teach it, if I had a school.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:54 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't watch any Buffy at all until Season 6 was half-way over, when a friend handed me his Season 1 DVDs and insisted I watch. When I saw The Deal With Darla in the very first scene I knew this show was for me.

what would be the episode you introduce them to to get them into it?
If someone is not willing to just start at the beginning, I'd always recommend What's My Line (Parts 1 and 2). You get some good insight into Buffy's psyche (equal parts insecure teenage girl and bad ass superhero), a bit of the folklore/exposition of Slayer history, and some truly epic monsters of the week, the very beginning of Oz-and-Willow, and you even get a bit of Jonathan. It's also a two-parter so you have the natural inclination to want want WANT the next episode, which is how it goes for the whole rest of the series.

And, sorry Whelk, but I think Bad Eggs is probably the worst episode from the entire series. Followed closely by Ted. Keep in mind though that these are the worst episodes of [what I think is] the best television series of all time, and I've actually enjoyed them more on rewatch.

Speaking of Spike, I was trying to re-find the link to Lydia Chalmers's Master's Thesis on William the Bloody (aka Spike). I'm not sure if this is the same one, because the original link from the "Recommended" page from the Slayage archives seems to be dead. In the course of my searching I've found an actual Master's thesis about Spike. (pdf) I'm guessing there are probably more out there somewhere. If only I had known...
posted by Eumachia L F at 3:22 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yay Spike! He had a lot of great moments; Marsters calling him a Cordelia replacement is really giving him short shrift.

I know that some people think that Buffy took a turn for the worse around Season 4, but Spike's chip was just a wonderful way to play with the existing set of relationships. And while Riley has been derided as boring, it would be too samey for Buffy to only ever have SUPER DRAMATIC BOYFRIENDS all the time.

Aside from some great comedic moments (failing to bite Willow! All of Tabula Rasa!) I cared a lot more about Spike and what he was trying to accomplish than Buffy's millionth speech of grim determination to the potential Slayers in season 7.
posted by Jpfed at 4:32 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm, wait what is the best episode to get people hooked on Buffy?

Probably not Sleepless. That was the episode that was on when I was raving about BUFFY while visiting my parents, and Mom decided to watch it with me, and...I had to do a lot of in-media-res explaining on the theme of "actually, it's not usually like this."

I cared a lot more about Spike and what he was trying to accomplish than Buffy's millionth speech of grim determination to the potential Slayers in season 7.
SPIKE: (after one of Buffy's motivational speeches) ...Well, that certainly was no St. Crispan's Day speech, was it?

GILES: We few, we happy, few...

SPIKE: ....we band of buggered.
One of my favorite exchanges EVER.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:39 AM on March 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


what happens after is so much awesomer after the...unevenness that was the first season.

I think I must be the only person who liked Buffy less and less as the seasons progressed. Buffy herself spends more and more time moping and complaining and everyone in general gets depressed and depressing. When I learned (ahead of time) that Xander and Anya, the last happy people in the entire show, were going to break up, I stopped watching or caring.
posted by DU at 4:42 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never watched Buffy - it was broadcast nightly at a time when I wasn't around every night of the week, and by the time I was aware it existed it seemed too late to try and catch up (see also: The Sopranos, Six Feet Under). Should I? Does it hold up? I worry that years of references mean I'll have heard all the good lines.

I've also got Veronica Mars to watch and I've been putting it off as I don't want ti to disappoint me like Freaks and Geeks did, after years of hearing how ace it was.
posted by mippy at 4:55 AM on March 12, 2012


Although, I worry Buffy is the same as Freaks and Geeks in that it might help if you're high-school age. F&G wasn't broadcast here so I missed out on seeing it when I could properly relate to the characters.
posted by mippy at 4:59 AM on March 12, 2012


mippy, I only watched it for the first time a couple years ago, and it was amazing. Yeah, it's about growing up and high school and adolescence, but there are parts that I probably appreciate more for having been extremely well-written and acted now that I have the perspective on high school that I do. I don't think it helps if you're high school age; I think it's pretty timeless, honestly.

Except some of the hair and outfits. Those are less timeless.
posted by olinerd at 5:10 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmm, wait what is the best episode to get people hooked on Buffy?

I suffered through a book and a half of reading Twilight aloud with my then 10-year-old daughter before I finally snapped and said, you know what, there is a tv show about a girl who instead of falling in love with a stupid vampire actually kicks vampire butt, wanna watch that instead of doing this? We started from the beginning, and though she was initially concerned about the fashion choices of the first episode, which made her doubtful about the show, she was quickly won over, and it turned into a huge family thing to work our way through Buffy from beginning to end. She quit the twilight series halfway through because after watching Buffy, she just wasn't into it, she said. For Halloween that year, she went as Buffy, complete with wooden stake and a blond wig. For Christmas that year, she got the massive series DVD set, and through eBay I was able to find a play set of the school library from the first season, and she and her little brother spent hours using their Littlest Pet Shop toys to act out (or improvise fanfic) scenes from the show. She got the season 8 comic books and a Buffy motion comic to read online. Now she's almost 13 and I occasionally overhear her skyping with her minecraft friends and saying things like, "Wait, you've never seen BUFFY? Okay, seriously, you need to know about Buffy!" and then explaining the entire series and telling them which episodes are the best (Hush, the musical, the body; but really, she says, you just have to start at the beginning and watch everything, and when you're done don't watch Angel, because no).
posted by mothershock at 5:17 AM on March 12, 2012 [54 favorites]


olinerd - I get the impression it might combine what I liked about Popular (ironic bending of high-school drama cliches and a dash of sincerity) with the fantasy element that put me off to begin with as it's never been my thing. *ponders*
posted by mippy at 5:39 AM on March 12, 2012


i have great love for each and every season of buffy, the puppet episode of season one was the first episode i ever saw and i loved it (and speaking of puppets, i wonder if there is any middleman appreciation around here; it wasn't quite buffy, but the 'vampiric puppet lamentation' episode was rather good, amongst others). Buffy certainly became smarter and more adult as the seasons passed, and rightly so, to the point where yes, relationships fall apart and people die, but that just made it a better show, for me at least. and also, how anyone can choose not see it through to the end when there is nathan fillion as the greatest evil priest ever waiting for them, i cannot understand.
also, no love for restless? that is a shame. it is no musical, or hush, but it is hilarious and absurd and one of my favourite episodes, xander is a comfortador and principal snyder is colonel kurtz and the cheese... Also, buffy gets to make this speech:
"But what else could I expect from a bunch of low-rent, no-account hoodlums like you? Hoodlums, yes, I mean you and your friends, your whole sex. Throw 'em in the sea for all I care. Throw 'em in and wait for the bubbles. Men, with your groping and spitting. All groin, no brain. Three billion of ya' passin' around the same worn out urge. Men... with your sales."
which has burrowed itself into my brain to the point that whenever i find myself comforting a friend about their latest male related problem i always find my words of doubtful wisdom concluding sympathetically with "Men... with their sales."
I, alas, am no comfortador.
posted by los_aburridos at 5:40 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm no superfan, but last year I re-watched every episode of "Buffy" (and then every episode of "Angel") while walking on the treadmill. I have to say, I'd rather watch Season 1 multiple times than watch the Riley/supersoldiers arc again.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:47 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It was only when they spun off Angel into a series and lost their Cordelia, which was the character who told Buffy she was stupid and about to die, that they needed someone to tell Buffy she was stupid and about to die, and they decided to bring me back. I failed miserably at that because I could never be around in the daytime to tell Buffy she was stupid and going to die because I was a vampire and going to catch on fire. There were two or three burning blanket episodes in season four, during which I thought I was going to be fired because it was very obvious to me I was not working out as Cordelia.

I actually laughed out loud at this.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:47 AM on March 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


also, no love for restless?

Actually I would place "Restless" within my personal Buffy top 5, above Hush and maybe even above OMWF. It's just so awesomely absurd.

"I wear the cheese, it does not wear me!"

speaking of puppets, i wonder if there is any middleman appreciation around here

You bet your sweet mother of Preston Tucker there is.
posted by kmz at 5:49 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ah, wait, RESTLESS is the one I showed Mom first. (Yeah. Not the best choice.)

On a tangent -- do any Whovians remember when Anthony Stewart Head was playing an evil principal in one episode of Doctor Who? At one point his school was being attacked by K-9 -- and he ordered his minions to go after it by sputtering, "Someone get the shooty dog thing!" Even TV Tropes remarked that "that was SUCH a Joss Whedon line."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


My husband watched Buffy straight through not too long ago. It was really easy for me to do chores/reading/whatever while season 1 was one. As soon as he started with Season 2, it was like a magnet glued me to the TV.

Logo has been airing episodes grouped by theme rather than chronologically, which is also fun.
posted by armacy at 6:05 AM on March 12, 2012


They're going to have to watch The Body alone; I'm getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about it, and the first time I saw it cried like a baby.

I'm waiting with bith anticipation and dread for when Mark gets to "The Body" in his spoiler free one episode at a time Buffy/Angel watch. He (and some of his commenters who are doing the same thing) get incredibly emotionally invested in even some of the more inconsequential episodes. I just hope people have their hug GIFs ready.

GILES: We few, we happy, few...

SPIKE: ....we band of buggered.
One of my favorite exchanges EVER.


It always annoys me when people talk about how Buffyspeak is just pop culture and nothing else. There's plenty of contemporary culture references, sure, but you're just as likely to get allusions to literature or mythology or history. One of my favorite Buffy (the character) quotes is when talking about a tardy Faith: "The girl makes Godot look punctual."

when you're done don't watch Angel, because no

!!! Angel is a very different show from Buffy, but outside of a shaky first season and one or two weird plot turns in season 4, Angel is fucking excellent as well. (And I actually had some problems with the series finale too, but that gets into nit-picky personal interpretations and spoiler territory.)
posted by kmz at 6:06 AM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


While we're in here, and apologies for a kinda sorta derail, can anybody explain WTF happens in the last 1.5 volumes of the Season 8 comic? It was all going very well, and then Whedon's reach seemed to exceed his storytelling grasp by about a continent and a bit.
posted by Shepherd at 6:08 AM on March 12, 2012


I saw The Body before I'd had any close experience with death. Thinking on it now, it encapsulates the experience perfectly. That moment where Buffy vomits, cleans up her vomit, and then opens up her back door and you hear the wind chimes and she's looking out, just completely not there. Fuck.
posted by angrycat at 6:09 AM on March 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I've never watched Buffy...

I completely missed Buffy when it was actually broadcast. We got the box set a couple of years ago and went through all 7 seasons in about 18 months, with our two teenagers.

Those 3 or 4 episode nights of Buffy with the family are going to go down as some of my favorite memories of their teenage years.
posted by COD at 6:11 AM on March 12, 2012


You bet your sweet mother of Preston Tucker there is.

In some ways I am fonder of The Middleman than I am of Buffy. With only one season, I am full of "what might have been" rather than so much "why did they have to do that?"

Buffy herself spends more and more time moping and complaining and everyone in general gets depressed and depressing. When I learned (ahead of time) that Xander and Anya, the last happy people in the entire show, were going to break up, I stopped watching or caring.


This goes back to that writers thing I said above. I feel that, after the relatively epic quality of Season 5, they decided to dial back and make the cast deal with "real life," because the writers felt they couldn't top Season 5 and didn't know what else to do. Weirdly, they decided "real life" meant "everyone is miserable all the time" because they make a very basic writing error of thinking that drama is all sadness. Which, thank heavens, it's not. Then they tried to make Season 7 the epicest, and failed at that, too. What Season 6 needed was not a new direction so much as a replacement of most of the writers, in my opinion.

And, honestly, the Xander and Anya breakup was about the dumbest thing ever. People who had had their minds taken over by alternate realities pretty much every other episode for years decide "oh, hey, this time it's true?" Really? That was your plan, writers?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:20 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first episode I ever watched, and just saw the last half, was the musical. I was upstairs, and my wife was trying to put our daughter to bed, so I got a very fuzzy UPN (or whatever station it was on then) picture, and I could not believe what I was seeing. Even not knowing any backstories, I knew I was seeing greatness.

It took another little while but I got my wife to agree to rent a random disc, and the first one we watched together was The Body. Blew us away, but hooked us.

The other great family Buffy memory was this road trip the three of us took. We could not find a camp spot, or motel, to save our lives, and it was getting dark and we were driving around the city of Mt. Shasta, and I said, "Well, this seems like a pretty good time for a pick-up," and slotted Once More With Feeling in the CD player. They had no idea I had gotten this, or that the CD even existed. It turned the trip around and made us a very happy, sing-along family for the rest of that trip.
posted by Danf at 6:24 AM on March 12, 2012


GenjiandProust: "And, honestly, the Xander and Anya breakup was about the dumbest thing ever. People who had had their minds taken over by alternate realities pretty much every other episode for years decide "oh, hey, this time it's true?" Really? That was your plan, writers?"

It's been a while (I tend to pretend the seasons after the show moved to UPN never happened, with a few exceptions) but as I recall it was that Xander found the alternate future plausible and it played into his insecurities that he was going to recreate his parent's disaster of a marriage.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:27 AM on March 12, 2012


I feel like with Xander the big problem was he kept being defined by what he wasn't rather than what he was and after a while he got wrote into a corner and the whole Anya breakup thing felt forced and artificial. Making him a monster hunter/apprentice Watcherish guy seems natural, but also like two seasons too late.

Don't watch Angel? Angel is good! In a lot of ways it was a more traditional TVish TV show ( detective agency with with Monsters!) but it hit a lot of good highs and Wolferram Hart is like one of my favorite evil institutions.

Also PUPPETS.


Also Rupert Giles is the reason I have so much tweed in my wardrobe.
posted by The Whelk at 6:31 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw The Body before I'd had any close experience with death. Thinking on it now, it encapsulates the experience perfectly. That moment where Buffy vomits, cleans up her vomit, and then opens up her back door and you hear the wind chimes and she's looking out, just completely not there. Fuck.

I actually remember vomiting after my dad's death, flushing the toilet, and absently thinking 'oh hey, this is just like Buffy.'

Buffy was how I associated with the outside world during my junior high and high school years. I was on the message boards for it, and still talk to some of the people I met on there. I didn't really have much in common with my other friends at school, but we watched Buffy and could talk about that. I honestly don't know who I would be now without this show.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:32 AM on March 12, 2012


It's been a while (I tend to pretend the seasons after the show moved to UPN never happened, with a few exceptions) but as I recall it was that Xander found the alternate future plausible and it played into his insecurities that he was going to recreate his parent's disaster of a marriage.

Yeah, maybe, but it's still weak. I mean, the world-where-everyone-was-evil was at least as plausible, and no one was all "hey, I guess I will be evil...." I suspect a more likely cause for that episode was that the writers couldn't imagine what they would do with a married couple of characters, since that isn't "dramatic."
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:32 AM on March 12, 2012


(Yeah, I see the merits of Angel, but to my young female viewer, it was not as compelling as watching a kick-ass heroine do her thing.)
posted by mothershock at 6:38 AM on March 12, 2012


Re Anya and Xander:

The whole point of Once More With Feeling is that everyone is expressing stuff they already feel, but haven't felt ready/willing to discuss while not under the influence of the dancing demon. It's not just that Xander and Anya found a suggested alternate reality plausible. It's that they just sang a duet with each other about how they annoy the shit out of each other but can't admit it. This is (within the context of the show) real, it happened in the show's real world, and just because they sang it under the influence of the demon doesn't mean they don't mutually recognize its truth.

And why couldn't they admit those annoyances? Why should they "never tell"? Because they don't have any faith that the revelation of their feelings wouldn't destroy the relationship. And now they both know that the other has that lack of faith as well.
posted by Jpfed at 6:44 AM on March 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


15 years? That's a lifetime ago. I might as well have been on another planet, just out of college and recently arrived in Los Angeles. In late 1996 I was working at a small special effects prop and costume shop, and we got hired to do some work on this new Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. ("Really?" we thought, "The movie was kind of terrible... who's going to watch this?")
Season 1 also has the demon in the internet, which is one of the stupidest things ever to air as part of an otherwise good series.
It may not be saying much, but Robot Moloch was one of the coolest suits I worked on during my brief stint in effects. I did a fair amount of the body armor work. (Whoa, I haven't seen that costume since it left the shop! The last time I looked online for a photo there was nothing.)

[Spoiler Alert]

The future mrs. usonian and I spent a day on the 20th Century Fox lot where they were filming that episode. The demon robot explodes at the end of the episode and to achieve that effect, the pyro guys had taken a mannequin and laced it with detonation cord. We were sent in to glue a bunch of armor and tubes onto the mannequin-bomb, just enough to make it look approximately like the actual costume for the half-second it would be on screen before exploding. That was kind of nerve-wracking despite their assurances that it was totally safe.

I remember watching the first episode with coworkers at Re$iduals in Studio City, and not being grabbed at all. I missed the I robot, you Jane episode when it first aired, and pretty much stopped watching after that. I should give it another go, if only to see the tiny bits and pieces I worked on in the first season!
posted by usonian at 6:44 AM on March 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


Oh, hey, speaking of The Body -- remember that scene where Willow is completely melting down before going over to see Buffy because she can't figure out what to wear and Tara just grabs her and kisses her twice, on the mouth, to try to calm her down? Was that the first same-sex kiss in a major network TV show...? I vaguely remember some article at the time mentioning that.

Even if it wasn't -- props to Joss for presenting a moment like that that was grounded in something real, something other than a "sexytimes" moment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:09 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also PUPPETS.

I had totally forgotten puppet Angel. I have got to go back to that show.
posted by londonmark at 7:10 AM on March 12, 2012


15 YEARS???

I'm old.

Anyway, I loved this show from the beginning (one of my cats is named Drusilla and she is nearly as old as when the show first aired), even when the last couple of seasons got choppy. I was really enjoying the Season 8 but as Shepherd points out, it starts to get real unwieldy in that last volume.

Also, I occasionally dip into old Angel episodes even though I gave up on it when it aired after Cordelia/Connor/Jasmine arc. (One of my good friends was outraged--OUTRAGED--that I didn't see it through to the end.)
posted by Kitteh at 7:54 AM on March 12, 2012


Out... for... a... walk....... bitch.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:56 AM on March 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


"I'm chained to a bathtub drinking pig's blood out of a novelty mug. It doesn't exactly rate high in the Zaggit's Guide."
posted by The Whelk at 7:59 AM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Whedon thought of the character Bad Horse during Angel, but could not find a way to fit him in. That would have been interesting, if he had.
posted by Danf at 8:17 AM on March 12, 2012


I discovered Buffy the summer after its series debut, when the WB reran the first season one week at a time, then continued watching that way for the most part. I was mostly out of the target demo, but 'high school as horror story' resonated with me. Those themes and experiences are close to universal. The latter ones, about going away and growing up, and learning to stand on one's own, sort of worked. It would have been more impactful if Buffy's college experience had been out of town, and without the whole of the Scoobies behind her.

There's something about watching a show like this in 'real time' that doesn't come across when watching it on DVD or streaming - the build up of emotions between episodes. This was amplified exponentially by the growth of internet-based fandom at that time. Some of the hate towards actors, characters, and writers was disturbingly palpable, especially when Joss Whedon started working on other projects in addition to Buffy, and the quality of the show started to change.

It's also worth noting that:

- The Columbine shootings in 1999 happened during season 3. One May episode, Earshot was postponed until September, and the 2nd half of the season 3 finale, Graduation Day, wasn't shown until July, roughly 2 months after the 1st half.

- Joss Whedon was usually good about wrapping up each season in case it was the last, and because the contracts were usually season to season. This led to the final episodes being ends of major arcs. The one exception was when there was a guaranteed season 5, which led to season 4 concluding the major arcs one episode early, then ending with Restless.

- There is an unaired presentation/pilot filmed before the show was greenlit. It was remade for the show, and is notable for having Stephen Toblowsky as Principal Flutie, and Riff Regan as Willow. It's also very, very low budget.

- There is also an unaired short pilot for a potential Buffy the Vampire animated series that never found an interested network.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:27 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


15 YEARS???

I'm old.


If she were real, Buffy'd be 30.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:28 AM on March 12, 2012


Buffy At 30 might be a good ...comic or something.

If nothing else, the last season delivered a good, soild, emotionally earned Series Ending unlike Some Shows I Could Mention But Will Not.
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


LOST

there i said it
posted by elizardbits at 8:38 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Buffy At 30 might be a good ...comic or something.

Couger Hellmouth?
posted by titus-g at 8:43 AM on March 12, 2012


Oh man I just started my trek through it again, and the love I accumulated for the characters by the end is making the beginning much more enjoyable.

Yeeeeah, to me it feels a bit like looking at a dear friend's old yearbooks: you see how dorky and immature they were, and you kinda love them more for it.

I saw The Body before I'd had any close experience with death. Thinking on it now, it encapsulates the experience perfectly.

Yup. I saw it shortly after my father died. My then-boyfriend (now-husband) and I had been watching them in order together, but after Dad died I borrowed the whole season from him so I'd have something to occupy my mind. The Fella knew "The Body" was coming up, but he didn't realize I'd plow through the episodes so fast, and because he assumed we'd be watching together before that episode, he didn't want to spoil any plot points by warning me.

So I ended up watching "The Body" just a couple of weeks after Dad's death, alone in my apartment. And it's just as well. At some point in the episode, I became completely unaware of myself; I found myself on hands and knees on my floor, sobbing, everything so fresh and perfectly conveyed by that episode. I'll never be able to see it objectively: for me, it's completely tied in with my own feelings of loss and the sickening banality of life going on around you.
posted by Elsa at 9:15 AM on March 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Buffy dates vampires that are hundreds of years old. She is the opposite of a cougar.
posted by maryr at 9:27 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like the episode where Buffy got her hair cut, but then turns invisible, so no one can see it. "It sounds cute!"

It reminds me of the movie Fargo, when everyone universally describes Steve Buscemi's character to the Sheriff as "a funny looking guy" and by the time she catches up to him, he's been put through the wood chipper. And how would you describe Steve Buscemi to anyone who's never seen him before?

It's those little touches on Buffy... also, it has really aged well. It predates the current trend of DIY t- shirt modifications, for example. And I'm pretty sure the show is responsible for the way we all talk now ("I'm standing right here. Standing right exactly here!" -- willow overhearing something said about her.)
posted by vitabellosi at 9:28 AM on March 12, 2012


To the small subset of people who love the Buffy Musical but have not seen Dr. Horrible... I have a suggestion, and I am guessing you know what it is.
posted by flaterik at 9:30 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Buffy dates vampires that are hundreds of years old. She is the opposite of a cougar.

A grave robber?
posted by jedicus at 9:39 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's the 20th anniversary of the movie masterpiece (which remains the only Buffy I've ever really seen; based on this thread, I guess I should work on that).
posted by inigo2 at 9:40 AM on March 12, 2012


Buffy dates vampires that are hundreds of years old.

Teenage Buffy did, who knows about mid-life crisis Buffy...

I think the world needs more shows where middle aged people are shown as superheroes. And I am just saying that because I am now (middle aged, not superhero).
posted by titus-g at 9:45 AM on March 12, 2012


I watched the entire series for the first time last year. I never saw a single episode when it was being televised and I am not sure how that happened. I was in high school at the time and I was (and still am) deeply interested in fantasy & science fiction.

Anyway, despite watching it in my late 20s, I still greatly enjoyed the series. I do have to echo what some of the previous commenters have said about the show and characters getting more depressing as the show went on. Interestingly, I rewatched Firefly last year and I noticed that it got more depressing as the show went on as well. I didn't notice that when I first watched it 7 years ago.
posted by nolnacs at 9:48 AM on March 12, 2012


On a tangent -- do any Whovians remember when Anthony Stewart Head was playing an evil principal in one episode of Doctor Who?

Yes, because it was Anthony Stewart Head playing the headmaster of a school and RTD wasn't above something like "Head = Master" and I got excited and then John Simm kind of ruined it all...

posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:51 AM on March 12, 2012


and Prophecy Girl is one of the show's best eps, period.

Yeah, this. It's a crucial statement of the major themes of the series--and it's the first time you get to see what an extraordinary TV actress Sarah Michelle Gellar can be. I never feel that she gets sufficient props for the often heartstopping (and hilarious) work she did in that role. It's sad that the fandom ended up taking agin' her because she didn't want to play the convention-queen game (in S7, in particular, she became pretty much the Yoko of the group to most Buffy fans--something that I always felt spilled over into the writers' room).

I love Buffy beyond all reason--I'm on a perpetual re-watch cycle that only ever goes on occasional hiatus--and I've hashed over pretty much every episode in detail on one internet forum or another. One thing I've come to realize about the show is that it means very different things to different people (as this thread shows). For me, there is a HUGE falling off in quality in seasons six and seven. Six still has a number of great individual episodes (including OMWF--one of the all time greats), but after "Tabula Rasa" I think it basically loses its way. Seven is mostly--from my perspective--a gross violation of what I think the show is "about" (with the absolute nadir coming at the point where the whole gang, including Giles, "fires" Buffy as leader because one battle doesn't go well--WTF?).

But I know people who only came to really love the series in S6 and for whom S6 and S7 are the heart and soul of their experience of the show. So I guess all one can say is that, like all great art, Buffy contains multitudes. We all find different things in it and it speaks to us (or fails to) in radically different and often contradictory ways. And that's cool. We don't all have to have the same Buffy.
posted by yoink at 9:52 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mom Buffy? With, say, a daughter who might or might not want anything to do with slaying or carrying on the family tradition? I WOULD WATCH THE HELL OUT OF THAT.
posted by mothershock at 9:52 AM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Vampire Reviews (No seriously it's funny) did the original Buffy movie and boy does it get a beating.
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 AM on March 12, 2012


also RE: The Sundays' version of Wild Horses. If you are holding a Prom theme party AND you have a Prom King and Queen raffle AND then you have your first slow dance AND you decide to lead off with Wild Horses and YES you can make a room full of geeky 26-somethings CRY.
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a few decades out of the Buffy demographic but it was the start of my Whedon worship. We were at a party and Buffy was playing in the background. I had always dismissed the show because the movie was HORRIBLE. But I kept watching what was going on out of the corner of my eye and realized that the writing and timing of the actors was excellent. And I whispered aloud, "oh shit, it is good." Our local Fox affiliate started running episodes from the beginning and I just started taping all of them. My wife mocked me thoroughly for watching a show meant for "teenage girls".

Then one Saturday I was midway into the second season and my wife started watching the episode instead of reading. And as the credits rolled she said, "ah shit, it is good." And then we had to go back to season 1 and start all over. Now if I mention Xander or Spike she gets a smile on her face. And Giles. And Willow...
posted by Ber at 10:00 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Vampire Reviews (No seriously it's funny) did the original Buffy movie and boy does it get a beating.

The movie gets a little overly panned these days in part because it just suffers in comparison with the series and in part because Buffy fans know how much Joss hated what they did to his script and show loyalty by bagging on the film. But I remember enjoying the film enough to think "hey, I should check out this new TV series based on that kinda fun film I saw" when it started showing.

It's definitely not the film it could have been--but it does retain enough of the Whedon humor to be worth a look.
posted by yoink at 10:02 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really have nothing to contribute here, but reading all these posts is making me feel the warm and fuzzies. What a fantastic show.
posted by Strass at 10:04 AM on March 12, 2012


and if you follow up the next slow dance at your Prom Party with this you can have a nice lady dressed like Drusilla slap you on the shoulder and say now you're just being mean.
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Body goes down as the only thing I have ever watched on TV to bring me to shaking tears.

I totally wasn't expecting that episode... It was a few years after the sudden death of my Mom, but it brought me right back to that time with alarming precision. Every detail of it - The silence, the camerawork focusing on seemingly random things, or moving off to the side... The complete stillness of it all.

It started as a single tear - my wife at the time laughed at me gently for crying at a teenage vampire show (she loved it, was just trying to put it in perspective) before realizing the extent that this hit me, and the relevance of SO MUCH of that episode to me.

That episode wrecked me, and it took a while to recover. It's the most brilliant thing I've ever seen on TV - I haven't watched that episode since, and I don't know if I will any time soon, but it haunts me to even think about. There's quite a bit to be said for TV that can elicit that sort of reaction.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:05 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The movie gets a little overly panned these days in part because it just suffers in comparison with the series and in part because Buffy fans know how much Joss hated what they did to his script and show loyalty by bagging on the film. But I remember enjoying the film enough to think "hey, I should check out this new TV series based on that kinda fun film I saw" when it started showing.

I think the movie is sort of criminally underrated. It's a fun flick, and not the disaster Joss might have you believe.

But then, these conversations aren't for me, not really. I like Buffy well enough, but it's never properly grabbed me, really, in the way that Freaks & Geeks did at the same time. Joss Whedon does teenagers better than he does anything else (Angel was pretty near unwatchable for me; likewise, Dollhouse. Firefly is just aight), but I still sometimes feel like he was missing some essential kernel of truth or something. I've just never been sold completely on it, no matter how many times I was forced to watch the musical ep (and listen to the soundtrack) by my besties in high school, or how many times I've given watching all of the rest of the show a chance. I always fall off the wagon after getting through a season or two. Watched bits and pieces from all different parts, and he does a lot of clever, interesting stuff but . . . I guess it always seemed to just lack heart? Though I appreciate how important the show is for other people.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:09 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I found the Xander/Anya breakup entirely plausible. We all *think* when we're teenagers that we're going to meet The One just then and that the relationships we have that age are forever. It felt, to me, like Xander's moment of adulthood really hitting home. That Happily Ever After is just not a thing that exists and good intentions don't mean you're going to be any less messed up than your parents were. Which is sort of what the whole show was about, turning into the grown-ups that grown-ups are, not turning into the grown-ups that teenagers wish they could be. Your relationships frequently aren't forever and your parents aren't immortal and you don't get the career you dreamed of and that doesn't render all your feelings and dreams completely meaningless, just because things don't last forever.

Which was something I really needed, at the time. I had a lot of losses during those years, which felt very isolating at the time, and Buffy went a long way towards making me realize that it wasn't just me. It didn't always end the way I wanted it to, but I'm glad, after all this time, that it didn't.
posted by gracedissolved at 10:12 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The breakup of Xander and Anya was certainly plausible ... but his actually leaving her at the altar was a ridiculous piece of nonsensical out-of-character melodrama in the service of raising stakes that didn't need to be raised when keeping it lower key would have been more effective, realistic, cathartic, and emotionally satisfying. It is one of the moments that encapsulates everything that was wrong with the last two-thirds of a season that suddenly for no real reason turned everyone into drug addicts, rapists, thieves, psychopaths, corpses, or simply self-involved assholes.
posted by kyrademon at 10:29 AM on March 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I guess it always seemed to just lack heart?

That's an unusual complaint. I think that is a pretty good example of what I mean about everyone finding a different "Buffy." One only has to read the comments on "The Body" in this thread, for example, to see how deeply many viewers feel the show is capable of cutting to the heart. I don't know of many TV series that have moved me as deeply as BTVS (and Angel, and Firefly come to that). For me, "heart" would be one of the most salient characteristics of any Whedon production.

That's not to say you're "wrong." I don't think "wrong" and "right" are useful concepts in this kind of disagreement. For whatever reason, Buffy doesn't speak to you and there's no point worrying about that.

That episode wrecked me, and it took a while to recover. It's the most brilliant thing I've ever seen on TV

And a propos of "The Body." Yeah, when I play the "favorite episode--well, favorite top five episodes--o.k., well, let's make it ten..." game "The Body" is always in the mix. I don't know of any work of art that gets at what it's like to lose a loved one--or the experience of having a close friend lose a loved one--better than "The Body." It is an extraordinary piece of movie making--and, again, played pitch-perfectly by SMG (also a great moment for Emma Caulfield).
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on March 12, 2012


That's an unusual complaint. I think that is a pretty good example of what I mean about everyone finding a different "Buffy." One only has to read the comments on "The Body" in this thread, for example, to see how deeply many viewers feel the show is capable of cutting to the heart. I don't know of many TV series that have moved me as deeply as BTVS (and Angel, and Firefly come to that). For me, "heart" would be one of the most salient characteristics of any Whedon production.

Yeah, I cross-posted with MysticMCJ and realize it might have sounded callous in light of that. I was just chatting more with my husband (who loves Buffy and Firefly) about this, and I think he was able to pinpoint what it is for me. The characters on Buffy feel essentially like comic book characters. The stories often don't seem to spring forth organically--I always had the sense even with the darker plot elements, such as Buffy's mom's death and Anya and Xander's break up, both mentioned here, that those arose out of a desire to make a point (we lose our parents suddenly; teen romance doesn't last forever). I think these are good points to make. I think they're progressive and need greater presence on television. But on what I've seen of Buffy, I'm not sure how often these plot demands arise naturally out of the situations and characters rather than a desire on Whedon's part to tell a certain type of story.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:40 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I found the Xander/Anya breakup entirely plausible. We all *think* when we're teenagers that we're going to meet The One just then and that the relationships we have that age are forever. It felt, to me, like Xander's moment of adulthood really hitting home. That Happily Ever After is just not a thing that exists and good intentions don't mean you're going to be any less messed up than your parents were.

It's funny--for me, that's exactly what is wrong with Xander ditching Anya in that episode. What, after all, has he learned from the demon's little light-show? That he fears that things might go badly. His solution to this is to call the whole thing off? What, is he vowing to live a life of celibacy from then on?

If anything, this feels, in fact, like a failure to realize that we don't get a simple "Happy Ever After." "OMG, I still have doubts--I can't get married if I have doubts!!!" The adult thing, surely, is to recognize that we will always have some doubts--we have to accept that and work to address the doubts, not just run away. Until when? Until we meet "The One" about whom we have no doubts?

It gets worse when we pull the camera back and look at the subsequent episodes, too. Xander comes back and says that he didn't actually want to break up with Anya, he just realized it was too soon to marry her. But this is just silly. They're living as man and wife already. If he's committed to continuing that life in any case, it's pretty hard to see what significance the wedding ceremony is supposed to have. The episode really only makes any sense at all if we assume that the series takes place in an alternate universe USA in which there is no realistic possibility of a legal divorce--where "marriage" really is an irrevocable commitment to eternal togetherness. Otherwise it just looks like Xander was a jerk for no reason.

Leaving that aside, though, one of my biggest gripes about that episode is that the monster stays around to gloat and to reveal what he did. The monster has no reason at all to think that Xander will still back out of the marriage when he learns that the "future" he just got shown is a fake. His entire plan hinges on Xander continuing to think that he (the monster) is "Xander-from-the-future." And yet he just hangs around for no reason and spills his guts the second he's challenged. It's the laziest writing imaginable.
posted by yoink at 10:44 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


But on what I've seen of Buffy, I'm not sure how often these plot demands arise naturally out of the situations and characters rather than a desire on Whedon's part to tell a certain type of story.

I'm not quite sure what would qualify as "organic" in this context for you. The whole point of Joyce's death is that it happens "naturally." That is, for no goddam reason whatsoever. Which, you know, is exactly how illness and death strike us IRL.

But, in the end, isn't that true of any story anyone chooses to tell? Aren't all the events of Freaks and Geeks (which I loved, by the way) chosen by the writers "to tell a certain type of story"? If you want to write about death you write a story about someone dying. If you want to write about heroism you write a story about someone overcoming incredible odds. "Organicism" would only seem a useful concept to me in relationship to how the parts of the story relate to each other--not to the subject matter of the story itself.
posted by yoink at 10:50 AM on March 12, 2012


I just wanted to point out that my first post on MeFi was for the last episode of Buffy. (And I took kind of a beating for liking it..)

Anyway, yeah. 15 years. Ouch.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:53 AM on March 12, 2012


Xander was a jerk for no reason.

Of all the core characters, even Willow's crippling metaphor addiction, Xander was the one who seemed the most off-character for like the last ...two or three seasons. It wasn't that he growing, it was that he was stalled, and while This Is Totally A Real Thing, it didn't go anywhere or lead to any particular revelation on the characters part aside from He Gets A Stable Girlfriend. When they try to address that in the Twins episode, it's good, but feels way too late. I know they wanted to have at least one character who had his feet in the real world more and isn't using magic or innate being awesome but for what I imagine where time constraint reasons (the 3rd season in particular is pretty tightly arced) he guts pulled out his rut way too late and with no actual consequence until the final season which, again, I thought was the natural end point for the character but came way too late.

Someone should have been apprenticing Xander at like Season 4, is what I'm saying.
posted by The Whelk at 11:01 AM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


But, in the end, isn't that true of any story anyone chooses to tell? Aren't all the events of Freaks and Geeks (which I loved, by the way) chosen by the writers "to tell a certain type of story"?

It's a matter of skill and control, of fooling your audience into believing that these are not conscious choices you're making as an artist but rather Things that People are Actually Doing. This can also be intentional; there are writers who I think don't mind if character actions don't seem naturalistic, because there are traditions (comic books are one) where naturalism isn't especially prized as opposed to, say, iconic characterization.

I think the comments made by you and kyrademon are actually a pretty good example of what I mean. Xander's actions don't really entirely make sense in the context, but they were deemed necessary for whatever reason--likely because they helped achieve the plot events the writers wanted (a break up) or the narrative beats or the "message" that the writers wanted to send.

I think Daria might be a good contrast, to use another dramedy of the same era in comparison. Many of the plot points fans complained about (the romance with Tom and Daria's rejection of Trent) brought the characters further away from their archetypal roots and closer to the realm of "real people who make logical choices based on complex motivations." For me, that's a more satisfying kind of story, though clearly other people feel differently.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:07 AM on March 12, 2012


Ha. I am one of those odd ducks who fell in love with Buffy (partly because of James Marsters) after only seeing a handful of episodes from Season 7 -- long after the series had aired.

I blame it on cereal.

Backstory:

We had just come back from watching "Serenity" (opening weekend). I was the only one in my little group who had never heard of "Firefly" and didn't know what a Joss Whedon was.

After determining that I loved the movie, primarily because of the banter (and the audacity to kill off my favorite character), my friend decided it was time to get me properly acquainted with Whedon.

However, the only Whedon dvds she had at the time (for whatever regretful reason I've long forgotten) was Buffy Season 7. Despite being the prime demographic for the show when it aired, all I knew was that it was about vampires.

So she pops the disc into the player, giving me an apologetic spiel about how she can't show me any of the better episodes, but it's better than nothing. She also attempts to give little thirty-second bursts of exposition and character background, which, frankly made me suspicious that I would actually like this show as much as I liked a space western.

I sorta wished we had taped those first few moments because attempting to describe the entire past six seasons of plot and characters not only makes you sound insane, but the writers and showrunners, as well. Seriously.

But then, oh, but then...

...there was the cereal.

Within the first ten minutes of the first episode, Xander pulls up to Buffy's house in his shiny car ("That's Xander, Buffy's friend. He's generally not that successful" -- gesturing towards car and spiffy outfit -- "and he used to be in love with Buffy but then he fell in love with a vengence demon who no longer became a vengence demon, except he left her at the alter so she became a vengence demon again, although they don't know that yet."), greets Buffy who calls upstairs to Dawn ("Buffy's mother died a couple seasons ago -- ohmanitwassogoodIwishIhadthatepisodetoshowyouinstead -- so she dropped out of college to take care of her little sister, except Dawn isn't really her sister, but a supernatural key that didn't even exist until Season 5 -- whichisseriouslysogood -- but Buffy died to save her, which means she's no longer a key but she's still Buffy's sister. Oh yeah, they brought Buffy back from the dead and she was pretty pissed about it.")...

...that she had made cereal.

It is at this point that I turn, interrupt my friend's breathless exposition, and inquire out of genuine curiosity: "How do you 'make cereal'?"

Out of all the crazy plot points, this is the one upon which I get stuck. But not for long, as Xander follows Buffy into the house and asks:

"How exactly do you 'make' cereal?"

That was the moment when I decided I would probably like this show. Although it wasn't until I saw "Sleepless" that I officially became hooked.

I've seen all the seasons now, and while there are obviously some truly excellent episodes, "Sleepless" still remains my favorite. Likely because I still vividly recall that emotional empact in cutting from her singing (yes, I had to have the musical episode explained to me) to silence, and her being stabbed against the wall.

Anyway, like I said, I'm an odd duck because I loved Season 7 (still do, although I'm aware of the flaws) and this is probably why I never got on board the Angel ship because crazy soul-filled Spike living in the basement was loads more interesting than broody soul-filled Angel.

Which, again, yay James Marsters!
posted by paisley sheep at 11:12 AM on March 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Hmm, wait what is the best episode to get people hooked on Buffy?

Probably not Sleepless. That was the episode that was on when I was raving about BUFFY while visiting my parents, and Mom decided to watch it with me, and...I had to do a lot of in-media-res explaining on the theme of "actually, it's not usually like this."


Ha, and here that was the episode that made me decide to get my hands on all the other seasons.

I guess that's one of the nice things -- while it can make the seasons a little uneven, there's enough depth and entertainment in Buffy that you just never know what will pull someone in (I, for example, did not find Season 5 as spectacular as my friend did, and she still teases me for loving Andrew the way I do).
posted by paisley sheep at 11:22 AM on March 12, 2012


I think the comments made by you and kyrademon are actually a pretty good example of what I mean. Xander's actions don't really entirely make sense in the context, but they were deemed necessary for whatever reason--likely because they helped achieve the plot events the writers wanted (a break up) or the narrative beats or the "message" that the writers wanted to send.

Well, sure--obviously I think that this particular incident was not "organic" to the character and the situation as already developed. But equally obviously I think that was uncharacteristic of the series as a whole. But you were originally talking about Joyce's death. That a major character should get a terminal illness doesn't seem to me like the kind of development that, in itself, can be, or not be, "organic." Obviously that doesn't apply to a particular turn taken in an already established relationship.

If your argument is that in general the characters make decisions or choose courses of action that are poorly motivated by previous development of their characters/situations I would have to say that I think that's a hard argument to make. Having, as I said, debated pretty much every episode backwards and forwards over the years there really aren't many places where you can't trace the groundwork for the decisions the characters make. That's what makes moments like "Hell's Bells" (or "Seeing Red") into such flashpoints for argument.
posted by yoink at 11:23 AM on March 12, 2012


I think y'all mean "Selfless". There was an ep called "Sleeper" later in S7 though.
posted by kmz at 11:25 AM on March 12, 2012


I sorta wished we had taped those first few moments because attempting to describe the entire past six seasons of plot and characters not only makes you sound insane, but the writers and showrunners, as well. Seriously.

Been there. Done that. Got the puzzled/amused/"won't someone lock this loony away" looks.
posted by yoink at 11:29 AM on March 12, 2012


OMG I am tearing up my Buffy fan club card as I type. Yes, I totally meant "Selfless."

How embarrasing. I will just crawl away in disgrace and put some milk next to a box of cereal.
posted by paisley sheep at 11:33 AM on March 12, 2012


Dance the dance of shame
posted by The Whelk at 11:34 AM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, sure--obviously I think that this particular incident was not "organic" to the character and the situation as already developed. But equally obviously I think that was uncharacteristic of the series as a whole. But you were originally talking about Joyce's death. That a major character should get a terminal illness doesn't seem to me like the kind of development that, in itself, can be, or not be, "organic." Obviously that doesn't apply to a particular turn taken in an already established relationship.

I think you're misreading me. I wasn't talking specifically or solely about that (I mentioned it as one of two examples).

Personally, when a writer makes a decision to include a plot point like that, I often find myself asking, "Was this a choice made because it was the best one to make in this universe, or because they wanted to make some sort of moralizing point? Are the reactions that follow organic and realistic, or do they feel contrived?" I thought the death was handled well in that episode, but not always subsequently.

(But then, frankly, the true impact of parental death rarely feels really well handled on TV. Whedon isn't alone in this.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:35 AM on March 12, 2012


there's enough depth and entertainment in Buffy that you just never know what will pull someone in

I didn't actually watch the series regularly when it first came out -- I mean, it was on my radar, but it wasn't a regular thing. I caught a few episodes here and there, and watched at least most of one season when it aired -- I remember watching Hush when my daughter was maybe six months old, sleeping on my shoulder. But it wasn't until I watched it with her from beginning to end that I really appreciated it, probably because I got to watch it in full myself while also watching it through her eyes. (And her brother's -- he's nine, but he'll occasionally bring up plot points from his favorite episodes or say stuff like, "This is just like that time when Anya...") (And both of them have used the lesson of that episode with the demon who seems so big and scary but turns out is "actual size" as a way to work through some of their out-sized fears.)
posted by mothershock at 11:39 AM on March 12, 2012


(But again, I feel it was done okay. I generally feel Buffy was done okay. It just never felt as true to life as F&G, Daria, My So Called Life . . . other shows that really reflected teenage reality for me, or even captured adolescent longing in fantasy landscapes and really got me behind the characters like, say, Doctor Who. But still, I appreciate what it meant to other people. It just didn't mean that, for me, and I think a certain naturalism is the source of that.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:40 AM on March 12, 2012


Dance the dance of shame

Even though they're really dumb, something about the Pylean dances makes me giggle almost uncontrollably. Sometimes I imitate them while crossing the street, which causes a similar reaction in my girlfriend.
posted by flaterik at 11:43 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you're misreading me. I wasn't talking specifically or solely about that (I mentioned it as one of two examples).

You weren't talking solely about it, but you were talking specifically about it; I was taking issue with that specific reference.

As to whether the ongoing reaction to the death is handled "organically" or not--that's a legitimate question--but a somewhat different one from the one you initially raised.

But on the issue of whether the death itself was introduced well into the narrative--well, I and most other viewers found it endlessly though provoking to insert a "real" death into a series in which "cartoon" death was a daily feature. Given that the heart of the series is the conflict between Buffy's desire to live a "normal life" and her "cartoonish" destiny as a heroine, it's bang on target for the show to explore one of the central events of "normal life" (dealing with "normal" death) as a way to open up all kinds of aspects of that primary division in Buffy's life (her initial assumption that her mother's illness is magically caused, for example, her impotence as a 'heroine' in the face of something so mundane as a brain tumor etc. etc.).

Now, if the shows handling of these issues doesn't grab you, there's not much more I can say than "that's a pity." Some things grab us, some don't--and it's usually a mystery as to why. But I think your desire to rationalize it as some inherent fault with the show that we're all just insufficiently sophisticated to grasp is barking up the wrong tree.
posted by yoink at 11:49 AM on March 12, 2012


But I think your desire to rationalize it as some inherent fault with the show that we're all just insufficiently sophisticated to grasp is barking up the wrong tree.

Again, you're misreading me, and being needlessly defensive. I don't think it's about sophistication at all, but rather "taste," which is subjective. I think Whedon is working in a tradition which many people enjoy, with a fair amount of success. But I think many of the discussions on this post of the narrative flaws of the series--as seen by fans--such as the way the Xander/Anya break up was handled or the fact that Buffy didn't go away to college--comes close to articulating why it isn't as massively successful for me, personally, as a viewer.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:56 AM on March 12, 2012


I found out a relative died yesterday. He was 90+, we weren't super-close, but we were friendly and I just saw him two weeks ago. He gave great hugs. I have his copy of The Left Hand of Darkness on my bedside table. I haven't been to a funeral since high school, about 17-18 years ago.

I didn't expect to appreciate "The Body" in new ways. I've had the Anya moment in that we're never going to talk about the book or we won't walk in the woods and look for deer anymore. I've had the Willow moment in that I don't think I have anything appropriate for the funeral. Knowing this makes me feel weird and sad but not crazy. That helps, though not much.
posted by zix at 12:26 PM on March 12, 2012


Over a 100 comments and only one mention of Dawn...
posted by Falconetti at 12:27 PM on March 12, 2012


>And I'm pretty sure the show is responsible for the way we all talk now

Yeah, I think it actually did help create, or at least codify, a certain little sub-set of verbal humor.

Not a specific catchphrase, but a formula... which fact, I think, represents an odd and charming achievement.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:36 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"So, did you guys go and do a whole bunch of drugs?"
posted by The Whelk at 12:39 PM on March 12, 2012


Over a 100 comments and only one mention of Dawn...
posted by Falconetti at 14:27 on March 12


Could be worse. Wasn't she bitterly despised at some point?
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:43 PM on March 12, 2012


Which, of course, was kind of the point.
posted by flaterik at 12:53 PM on March 12, 2012


Just an FYI... Buffy is Pregnant RIGHT NOW IN SEASON 9 The Comics which are really good and you should check out if you are a total nerd!
posted by goneill at 1:38 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It would have been more impactful if Buffy's college experience had been out of town, and without the whole of the Scoobies behind her.

This could have either worked well or worked horribly. Either way, there's no way the network would have gone for that.

Reminds me of how one of the seasons of Dexter opens with the taunt that Dexter might leave Miami for good. That would have probably been the very best place to take that show next - get Dexter out of his comfort zone, retire the supporting characters who are no longer developing - but noooOOooOOOOoo, we had to sit through a bunch of Julia Stiles looking like a grouchy cat.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:40 PM on March 12, 2012


You know, I think the basic problem with Angel for a lot of people is just that Buffy ran for another four years and simultaneously. So now there's two shows which are trying to deal with adulthood in this fantasy metaphor, and one of them is already popular and a fan favorite, and one of them is a spin-off. So there's sort of already a stacked deck.

For my money, though, Angel is far more successful at that theme. The characters are greyer, more nuanced, less high-school one-note (the nerdy girl, the prom queen, the smartass). They're largely people who have been around long enough that adult experience makes sense for them, and we haven't already seen all their formative experiences so we can discover how they came to be who they are and where they're going. It's a more difficult show, but I think a very rich one.

This was a great interview. I love hearing an intelligent actor's take on their material, they're trained to think about these ideas in very different ways than I am, so that's always a fresh and fun perspective for me.
posted by Errant at 1:51 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, goneill. I am a total nerd who hasn't been reading the comics and now I feel really compelled to.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 1:52 PM on March 12, 2012


>Hmm, wait what is the best episode to get people hooked on Buffy?

"Harsh Light of Day", which I'd completely forgotten about until I rewatched it a few minutes ago, has both excellent dramatic hooks and a minimal reliance on foreknowledge.

>Angel is far more successful at [depicting adulthood]. The characters are greyer, more nuanced

Yeah. Angel didn't grab me as much, but it was far, far better at this.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:13 PM on March 12, 2012


The comics are great...until you get to that complete "Okay, now you're just pulling this out of your ass, Whedon, because you couldn't think of how to finish this arc where it doesn't make me stabby" last volume.
posted by Kitteh at 2:18 PM on March 12, 2012


I honestly consider Buffy to be the best of network television, at least in my lifetime. Even Spike and Cordelia appearing in the single worst episode of Supernatural ever couldn't change how I feel about the brilliance of Buffy.

My personal favorite (am I the only one?): Conversations with Dead People.

Angel's weakness for me was always Angel. He was just boring. For those who watch Vampire Diaries, he's like Stefan -- a dishwater, one-note character around which interesting things happen, but who contributes little until it's time to (conveniently) be evil for awhile.
posted by coolguymichael at 2:21 PM on March 12, 2012


FOR THE LOVE AF ALL THINGS GENRE WHHHHHHHY WAS THE ANIMATED BUFFY SHOW NEVER COMMISSIONED INTO A FULL SERIES ????? ::SOBS::
posted by Faintdreams at 2:41 PM on March 12, 2012


I feel like with Xander the big problem was he kept being defined by what he wasn't rather than what he was and after a while he got wrote into a corner and the whole Anya breakup thing felt forced and artificial. Making him a monster hunter/apprentice Watcherish guy seems natural, but also like two seasons too late.

One of my favorite episodes is The Zeppo because it really captures the essence of Xander in a sweet-yet-honest way.
posted by puckupdate at 2:58 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I honestly consider Buffy to be the best of network television, at least in my lifetime. Even Spike and Cordelia appearing in the single worst episode of Supernatural ever couldn't change how I feel about the brilliance of Buffy.

My personal favorite (am I the only one?): Conversations with Dead People.


"Conversations" is entrancing. It opens with a soulful song, flies over all those little scenes, and the acting seems amped up. For example, Holden; who wouldn't last three minutes outside the grave in another episode, but here has this really natural, if awkward, discussion with a high-school friend he'd lost touch with. The scenes have time to breathe, they're more focused yet they seem to fit more in the time slot; one of the conversations flies entirely under the radar until just before the ending credits.

</also a fan>
posted by Tobu at 3:06 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apologies if I've told this story before

The first time I watched Buffy right through, I spent a rainy labour weekend holed up in my room, watching video store DVDs, and bonding with my flatmate's new kitten that I was looking after as she was out of town. By the end of (I think) 30 episodes straight, I had developed a terminal case of BuffySpeak (such as putting -age at the end of words like Slayage, Bicyclage, Cookage etc ). This came to the fore when I returned to work and, upon being asked what I'd done with the long weekend, replied,

"Oh, you know, watched some DVDs and did the bondage thing with my flatmate's kitten."
posted by Sparx at 3:49 PM on March 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is probably the best thread for this: Geek-Week meets a Joss Whedon impersonator.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:03 PM on March 12, 2012


Okay, this thread made me rewatch "The Body" on Netflix.

Still a knife to the heart. Still great.
posted by jcreigh at 4:07 PM on March 12, 2012


I really enjoyed Buffy until it started to loose it in the later series when the writing was all over the place and the character's motivations changed from week to week (I found out later than apparently this was due to Whedon taking his eye of the ball and concentrating on other projects)

James Marsters is when of the very few Americans that can do a English accent that doesn't put my teeth on edge. In fact the first time I saw him I thought he was English until I realised his accent was just a smidgen generic.

Marsters actually turned up on my local news once. During the hight of Buffy mania he was over here for a convention. The reporter asked some bland questions then right at the end of the interview a fan who had won a competition to meet Masters got to ask him a question - I think it was something like 'who was a big influence on you when you were younger' I'm pretty sure Marsters said 'Jon Savage'*. Cue much hilarious floundering from the reporter as he did handing back to the studio, obviously not having a clue who Masters was talking about.

*The music journo who wrote England's Dreaming about the Sex Pistols
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:10 PM on March 12, 2012


One of my favorite episodes is The Zeppo because it really captures the essence of Xander in a sweet-yet-honest way.

Okay I've been thinking about this a lot so brace yourself here.

Yes, The Zeppo is great, it's fun and clever and faces the question on everyone's mind "Why is the totally normal person still fighting monsters?" and it makes sense that he would still stick around considering they go to the same school and he's been lifelong friends with 1/5th of the team buuuuut.

You see they kept acknowledging this point, that Xander doesn't really DO anything and he's kind of just this guy and defined by what he doesn't have - and then not doing anything to advance that. Just remind us that the show is aware of this, but isn't going to do anything about it. Thank goodness they ret-coned him some military training or he'd be double useless (wait does Buffy still remember being a Romance Novel heroine then? Did Willow retain knowledge of the Afterlife? Never just ...put on a rug over that.)

Xander's arc basically ends with him believing in himself and being confident and getting a girlfriend and that's fine but it's not 7 years worth of fine. And every time there was a serious question on whether Xander should still like, be on the team, it got handwaved away which bugged me cause it didn't have to be. Granted, part of this stems from the fact that the show had a lot going on and the focus wasn't on these side characters but if you're like me and you don't really think the Supersoilder Military plot should have happened - well that frees up more time to deal with a core character who got written into a corner and put into cold storage for a while juuuust when the nstory was opening up to give him some interesting options.

For one thing I always thought he'd end up tending bar at the demon hangout. He's not fazed by demons or the supernatural, he's got good interpersonal skills, and he'd be a useful source of information.

Makes more sense then him being a contractor anyway.
posted by The Whelk at 4:13 PM on March 12, 2012


After my Dad had his first heart attack he was on life support, and after spending another exhausting, horrific day watching him breathe in the hospital room I went home. Totally fried and seeking escape, I turned on the TV... and it was "The Body." That was... a draining episode of television. There are many episodes of Buffy that I'd watch again, but not that one.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:16 PM on March 12, 2012


It's a more difficult show, but I think a very rich one.

I was surprised how quickly Cordelia became like, my favorite character ever during her run on Angel. During the re-watch I was surprised how good it was on showing her growing into her self and becoming an adult without leaning on too many Young Girl In The Big City cliches.
posted by The Whelk at 4:17 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway I don't know the production details of the show very well, which makes writing serialized TV so damned hard cause every show talks about having to completely rewrite things due to events outside their control.
posted by The Whelk at 4:25 PM on March 12, 2012


Danf: "Whedon thought of the character Bad Horse during Angel, but could not find a way to fit him in. That would have been interesting, if he had."

I always thought Bad Horse was a Ben Edlund creation, though all of 'Dr Horrible" would fit right in 'The Tick' universe.
posted by the_artificer at 4:27 PM on March 12, 2012


It was based on something Ben said in passing years before "You never see a ....bad horse." and found a home in Dr. Horrible.
posted by The Whelk at 4:30 PM on March 12, 2012


"Conversations with Dead People" is a kind-of-amazing setup for a season that never happened. It reminds you of the awesome and creepifying power of the First Evil to do... things that it then stopped doing, it reminds you of the depth of the ensemble and the love for these characters... that we're taking out of focus to concentrate on these random teen girls. It was an amazing trailer for a movie that was a bit crap.

(C'mon, nothing about Cabin in the Woods? 17% of Metafilter is in Austin at Interactive and nobody in the thread saw it? I couldn't go! I had work! Telll meee! C'moooon!)
posted by ormondsacker at 4:42 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe Cabin in the Woods deserves it's own thread?
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:54 PM on March 12, 2012


It was based on something Ben said in passing years before "You never see a ....bad horse." and found a home in Dr. Horrible.

I think it was a little more formally attributed to Ben than that:

8:28 PM - The horse playing "Bad Horse" has completed a Whedonverse hat-trick: he's also appeared in "Dollhouse" (in the episode airing next week) and "Angel." Joss credits Ben Edlund for coming up with the character as well as "Moist." "Bad Horse he had actually come up with for 'Angel.' He kept pitching, 'What if he faces a bad horse?' [With his] catchphrase, 'Oh-Jesus-God-Wow, Oh-Jesus-God-Wow, how could you make a radioactive device only using hooves!'" He later adds, "There was a moment where I was like, 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to get Dr. Horrible together.' He's like, 'You have to! I have so many puns! So many puns! You need to do this!'"
posted by Sparx at 5:01 PM on March 12, 2012


Super-nerdy nitpicking alert! Um, or maybe super-nerdy nitpicking in a Buffy thread goes without saying?

And every time there was a serious question on whether Xander should still like, be on the team, it got handwaved away which bugged me cause it didn't have to be.

Buffy briefly but explicitly dismisses any question about Xander's value when the Watchers' Council pays a visit to assess her in "Checkpoint" (S5, ep12):
Phillip - "The boy? No power there."
Buffy - "'The boy' has clocked more field time than all of you combined. He's part of the unit."
Willow - "That's Riley-speak."
Xander - "I've clocked field-time."
It's just a moment, but Buffy's tone and stance make it clear that this is not negotiable. She's adamant: Xander has value and experience, he's been out in the field while the Watchers were in the library or, y'know, watching, and he is on the team.

And of course his day job as a contractor comes in handy in big ways and small. ("And the glorified bricklayer picks up a spare!") I really loved that once in a while, the show had him replacing door jambs or windows. Lots of action-packed shows never even wink at the destruction that their heroes wreak every week, so it tickled me that the world of BtVS occasionally acknowledged that OH HOLY HELL, that fight really wrecked up the joint!

But more than that, I always viewed it as a strength that the show didn't need to elevate or empower every character with supernatural abilities or extraordinary training, that a plain ol' human could still pull some weight and be of some value.

That's a good message for a show aimed at young people, especially, but it's appropriate for any audience: you don't have to be a superhero to be a hero.
posted by Elsa at 5:17 PM on March 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


The only thing that bothered me about the whole Xander thing was that he continued to consider himself the non-essential member of the team even after he single-handedly saved the world.

It was just the once, but still.
posted by Bonzai at 5:31 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I always thought Xander was the smartest of the bunch because he got into the construction business in Sunnydale, where at least one building was destroyed every week.
posted by paisley sheep at 5:34 PM on March 12, 2012 [15 favorites]


(C'mon, nothing about Cabin in the Woods? 17% of Metafilter is in Austin at Interactive and nobody in the thread saw it? I couldn't go! I had work! Telll meee! C'moooon!)
posted by ormondsacker at 18:42 on March 12 [+] [!]


Sorry, shouldn't have been rude before. To make up, via Whedonesque, here's a very spoilery interview about Cabin In The Woods with Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:14 PM on March 12, 2012


Xander saved the world without magic or superpowers, just a hand of love and friendship extended to someone trapped in a valley of immeasurable grief. That's pretty fucking cool, if you ask me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:16 PM on March 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


It sounds corny, but thinking about that scene is making me tear up a little, heh.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:20 PM on March 12, 2012


Nthing that the Buffy Season 9 comics are outstanding, as are the current Angel & Faith series. Both of them are managing to capture the feel of the TV series in a way that the comics hadn't until now. They have made me anticipate the new issues in the way we used to anticipate new episodes. Frustrating that they take so long to arrive and are so short, but I don't want to wait even longer for the compilations.

Buffy Season 8 was shaggy and all over the place, and mothershock, I'm shocked and kind of worried that your 12-year-old saw the last few issues of it, which were more than R-rated. Hope she had some parental guidance! Season 9 has a more grounded feel to it, and seems more like it's picking up where Season 7 left off, with slayers in the world and Buffy there to deal with it and her own life at the same time.

Angel had some very wacko and uneven books, though Brian Lynch did a great job writing Angel and Spike nonetheless. Angel and Faith feels like the series more than any of the other books so far.
posted by mneekadon at 6:21 PM on March 12, 2012


That scene did make up for a lot of s6 shortcomings, real or imagined, in my everso humble opinion, BP. The cheese did not wear it.
posted by Sparx at 6:23 PM on March 12, 2012


That's a good message for a show aimed at young people, especially, but it's appropriate for any audience: you don't have to be a superhero to be a hero.

Which I totally get and understand , but it seemed to come too late in the show's progression which left his character feeling underused and underdramatized.

I had forgotten about the constant repairs tho, when he mentions the shoddy construction job on one of the windows "Oh god, I've become my father."
posted by The Whelk at 6:28 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


And BP, while I think that's a great scene with the two acting the hell out of it, it felt a little unearned in it's "Hey! Wait remember we're friends and I love you!" but that's part of the larger problem I have with the pacing, Xander's arc is too slow and Willow's too fast but that could just be me and my picky issues.
posted by The Whelk at 6:35 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always thought Bad Horse was a Ben Edlund creation, though all of 'Dr Horrible" would fit right in 'The Tick' universe.

If memory serves, either Edlund or Jackson Publick has stated that The Tick, Dr Horrible, and The Venture Brothers are the same universe.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:36 PM on March 12, 2012


(mneekadon: oops, that was a typo -- should have just been "comic books," not "season 8 comic books"! But yes, the entire experience of the show and extra-show material was a joint venture, with parental involvement and discussion throughout.)

(And The Whelk: I went to high school with Cordelia IRL!)
posted by mothershock at 6:52 PM on March 12, 2012


> have those cassette tapes ever seen the light of day? i would love to hear what the first drafts of joss and his wife sounded like.

It sounds too polished and professional, and was released on a CD, nonetheless here is a "demo" of Kai Cole singing Something to Sing About, accompanied by Joss.
posted by Tobu at 6:59 PM on March 12, 2012


but that's part of the larger problem I have with the pacing

I know S6 gets a lot of criticism, but I liked how it moved away from Buffy's whining about her job, the supernatural Big Bad du jour, and the eye-rolling deus ex machina that invariably wrapped everything up neatly at the end of the season, or a cliffhanger that you knew the writers would resolve with something equally convenient.

The writers took the risk of moving away from the supernatural, showing "real" characters trying to overcome their inner demons and, while, mostly failing, succeeding when it counted most — and without spells, ancient pacts, or guns. Just simple, unqualified love and friendship. You can save the world by saving a human being.

It might be a bit hokey, but I still think it was a pretty powerful bit of storytelling to aim at teenagers. It would have been the right note on which to end the show's narrative arc, I think. After that, S7 seemed like a lazily-written epilogue to appease fans, just throwing together more of everything from the first five seasons and some crappy acting, much like The Godfather: Part III, or a sequel to The Matrix.

Either that, or I'm still crushing on Xander after all these years. Okay, I'll shut up now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:07 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm tempted to start a rewatch myself now, probably starting with S1. S1-S6 to me had at least some merit, even through things I didn't like the turning and eventual death of Jonathan; the dark magic=drug addiction metaphor; and the promotion of Andrew, my least favorite character in Buffy ever. S7 was where the wheels were coming off, where defiance came across as petulance, and the end felt like a tortured reprise of the end of S3.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:57 PM on March 12, 2012


You can't top season 3, and I'm not just saying that because I also graduated high school in 1999.
posted by maryr at 9:14 PM on March 12, 2012


This comment exists solely to let BP know that Nicholas Brendon owns a copy of my first book.
posted by The Whelk at 9:17 PM on March 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel that, after the relatively epic quality of Season 5, they decided to dial back and make the cast deal with "real life," because the writers felt they couldn't top Season 5 and didn't know what else to do. Weirdly, they decided "real life" meant "everyone is miserable all the time" because they make a very basic writing error of thinking that drama is all sadness.

Well, most people who are struggling with making a living at ye olde Doublemeat Palace and beginning adulthood while raising a bratty teen would be miserable all the time. Hell, I'd say most people I know dealing with "real life" are pretty miserable compared to the folks who at least get adventures when hunting down demons every week. And that's not even getting into the cube life.

Yeah, later seasons in which folks have to (to some degree, obviously they dropped that with Buffy getting money from Giles somehow and was anyone still going to college?) deal with Real Adult Life are less fun. Just like real life :P
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:24 PM on March 12, 2012


Well I don't thnk Buffy Vs. Real Life is a bad idea, in fact I think it's a fantastic idea ( you are wonder woman! You have no marketable skills! You are flipping burgers.) I just always felt the execution and the pacing was off. In fact I don't have problem with any of the ideas they gave us in that season, just in the way they where done. But maybe you can't win, fans moaned at the time that the Willow Magic Addiction plot line went on too long but I think it was way too short and not done well but the basic idea was soild, and it was more criminal misuse of Amy, who I love.

On the other hand, that time loop was pretty much the best portrait of retail drudgery id seen on TV yet.

( Maybe it wasn't the pacing, I just never bought the nerd villains as villains.)

But in an unrelated tangent, who else felt so sad for Girl Bot, sitting there forever, always smiling, like a Hans Christan Anderson Fairytale? Poor Girl Bot.
posted by The Whelk at 10:33 PM on March 12, 2012


I still can't watch The Body. I lost my Mom about 5 years ago, a few weeks before I turned 21. As recently as a year ago, i've tried to watch that episode and I was a wreck for a few days afterwards.

It's just a little too close to reality for me, the weirdly surreal mundanity of it. The part where Xander gets a parking ticket as they're all leaving to go join Buffy neatly encapsulated it for me - the sensation of 'This enormous thing has happened, how is the world still behaving as normal?'

When my Mom died, it was about 4 in the morning and i'd been at the hospice all night, so I drove home alone to her apartment (I lived in another state, so i'd been living there to care for her) and sat at the kitchen table, not knowing what to do now. Eventually I made some toast.

I washed up my dish and the cups from where i'd made the two of us coffee the day before and went to bed.
When i woke up the next day, I wandered around aimlessly and felt horribly, disgustedly guilty when I considered driving around the corner to pick up the morning paper and milk. What sort of awful person wants to read the paper when their mother isn't even 6 hours dead? Who wants milk?! YOUR MOTHER IS DEAD.

And that's why Willow's shirt scene, the parking ticket scene, the section where Buffy imagines the ambulance coming, Joyce being resuscitated and all being well and it cuts to that horrid, jarring shot on the couch...these all hit so hard because those things were exactly what I felt. I've never seen anything else on TV or in a movie that captured it so well.
posted by pseudonymph at 1:33 AM on March 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm waiting with both anticipation and dread for when Mark gets to "The Body" in his spoiler free one episode at a time Buffy/Angel watch. He (and some of his commenters who are doing the same thing) get incredibly emotionally invested in even some of the more inconsequential episodes. I just hope people have their hug GIFs ready.
....
posted by kmz at 8:06 on March 12


Much thanks for the link. It's rare that someone reviews this as he does with virtually no foreknowledge of the series at all and lots of enthusiasm. From where I am reading his reviews, it seems the commenters are already very passionate. Hopefully the shortened time between reviews will dilute that some.

The only other set of reviews I read was on a site that did them out of sequence, as they did them in fits and spurts and took a couple of seasons to commit to reviewing it, then sent a recapper to catch up with holes in seasons 1-3. Then they fudged the numbers in a site redesign to make it look like they were recapping the thing in real time, and no one was the wiser, except for those who remember, and those who come upon a curious and desperate recap of one episode, written as if it were the last thing that they would ever say about a young woman who saved the world.

And, Marti Noxon took way more crap then she ever deserved for the hard work she did on the show. For all the aspersions cast upon her as show runner, she also turned out some gems, including The Wish and The Prom.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:10 AM on March 13, 2012


Grrr. Argghh.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:13 AM on March 13, 2012


Falconetti -- I was about halfway down and CTRLF'd because I could not BELIEVE no one had mentioned the bratty little harridan who ruined the sweet alchemy of my 'verse.
posted by princessmonster at 7:53 AM on March 13, 2012


And, Marti Noxon took way more crap then she ever deserved for the hard work she did on the show. For all the aspersions cast upon her as show runner, she also turned out some gems, including The Wish and The Prom.

No kidding. I'm not the biggest fan of Season 6 either, but good lord the kind of assholish, misogynistic, and just plain horrible way people treated her online then was ugly as hell. TWOP was probably the worst offender, not just from the terrible forums but the recappers themselves. Ugh.
posted by kmz at 8:04 AM on March 13, 2012


At TWOP at the time, the recappers were also forum moderators, which turned out to have mixed results depending on the show and the posters. They frequently got caught up in the emotions that came out of those forums, which were so strong that they were healthy for no one. (I think of them as emotional lasers). This doesn't excuse what happened there and elsewhere online though.

I learned a lot about communication from reading TWoP back then. Mostly it was about how hard and often futile it was to communicate by text alone, with people of mixed reading and writing abilities.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:23 AM on March 13, 2012


At TWOP at the time, the recappers were also forum moderators, which turned out to have mixed results depending on the show and the posters. They frequently got caught up in the emotions that came out of those forums, which were so strong that they were healthy for no one.

Yeah. ZeusHumms, do you remember the banner ads people could buy? Remember the one from the Willow/Tara fans protesting that they'd stop watching the show unless they brought Tara back to life?....Yow.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on March 13, 2012


rtha: "Hush is in my top five best TV episodes ever.

I don't think I have the objectivity required to rec the best ep to get a n00b hooked.
"

The creepy guys from Hush still give me the heebie-jeebies if I think about them at all.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:02 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


dirigibleman: "On the 15th anniversary of the TV debut of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

On the 15th anniversary

15th
"

To put that in perspecive, people who were born when it came out are now the same age as the target audience was.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:03 AM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


To put that in perspecive, people who were born when it came out are now the same age as the target audience was.

*Dawnvoice* shutupshutupSHUTUP

I liked Dawn for the most part, except when she sorta floundered in season 6.
posted by kmz at 10:10 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The creepy guys from Hush still give me the heebie-jeebies if I think about them at all.

Some years back I had one of those sleep-paralysis things, and what I absolutely knew to be real - as real as the bed I was lying in - was that one of them was standing next to the bed, waiting for me to wake up. Talk about terror. (I have a bunch of necessary-but-repetitive work tasks to do today, so maybe I'll rewatch Hush while I cut and paste!)

Re the Willow-addicted-to-magic arc: Hated. It. There were certainly other arcs in the series that were patently Hey Kids This Is A Message Right Here! sledgehammers, but to my mind, that was the worst - clumsily handled, no subtlety at all, and feeding into that terrible "this is your brain on drugs" lie that any kid who went through "drug education" in the U.S. knew was a lie. I was really pissed at Whedon for that.
posted by rtha at 10:11 AM on March 13, 2012


Willow's Fast Acting Metaphor Addictions was one of those times where I really agree with Phobe's point above, that some plot points and stories happened cause they Should Happen and we should see Niceness Being Corrupted and Address A Serious Issue that didn't seem to come naturally from the character. And the annoying thing is that idea itself isn't bad, it just wasn't handled with naturalism or subtlety. People whined at the time that the plot was taking too long but I thought it was seriously rushed as Willow goes from zero to crackhead in like 2 episodes. The whole forgetting spell thing was a better metaphor (You're literally using Something to make life go smoother at the expense of your realtionship's honesty and well being!) and like, stars? really? That's your drug metaphor? Yeesh. Was this a network note or something?

Oh hey no one's mentioned Normal Again? I can see not liking it when it aired but as a fun deconstruction of the series, oh man - I liked it.
posted by The Whelk at 10:36 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dawn herself never irritated me so much as the other characters' attitudes towards her – that is, she started out as roughly the same age Buffy was when she started slaying, and yet all the characters treated her like a big baby without any sort of awareness on the part of the characters (or the show's writers) that, you know, most of them were Dawn not too long ago.
posted by furiousthought at 10:39 AM on March 13, 2012


I'm irritated that I can't remember the article I read where Dawn was mentioned as being introduced to reprise a theme, because I can't remember what the darn theme was.

I'm also irritated that I can't remember the exact name of the Calif. radio show about Buffy, because that was incredibly rare in the era before podcasts.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:41 AM on March 13, 2012


I thought Normal Again was kinda neat myself. I remember the Tara/Willow nastiness as well, though I didn't participate much in it or have a personal stake in it.

To be honest, it's been a long time since I rewatched more than one episode here and there, and everything has faded and blurred to happy memories. I bet if I did rewatch, I'd be taken back to the emotional state I was in when I first watched the episodes.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:54 AM on March 13, 2012


Dawn acted like a big baby. I liked her, but she was horrible.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:34 AM on March 13, 2012


People kept WARNING be about this horrible Dawn person coming up in the show as I watched re-runs, so when she actually appeared I was like "Really? This is that awful? I kinda like her."

I think having a younger sibling with roughly the same age gap helped.
posted by The Whelk at 11:37 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I absolutely LOVED Normal Again. In fact, it was episodes like that that made me love the series as a whole and Joss Whedon in general. It takes a lot of guts to challenge the premise of the entire show and turn Buffy into an unreliable narrator (so-to-speak).
posted by Eumachia L F at 12:19 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Dawn was more traumatic at the time. Season 5 was the first season of Buffy I watched consistently and understood (I was - omg - 10 at the time), and I didn't really have a problem with her either, though she is indeed a brat. It was only re-watching the series as an adult that I was able to imagine people's horror at this unwelcome Scrappy Doo-type bratlet suddenly appearing with no explanation.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:22 PM on March 13, 2012


I liked the ballsiness of "Fine. we're going to retcon in a Scrappy Doo in a way that makes sense within the story and MAKE YOU LIKE IT." and I sat there going "Yep, you made me like it, slow clap for you"
posted by The Whelk at 12:25 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also the episode with the Queller Demon and Hey what's a good childhood fear YOUR PARENTS LOSING THEIR MINDS AND THEN TELLING YOU YOU'RE NOT REAL
posted by The Whelk at 12:26 PM on March 13, 2012


I also liked how Dawn was the rare young teen not played precious or precociousness cause, yeah teenagers are horrible.
posted by The Whelk at 12:27 PM on March 13, 2012


By the way, am I the only one that, when browsing TV Tropes, immediately scrolls down to the "Live Action TV" section to find the inevitable mentions of Buffy?
posted by jcreigh at 1:27 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


(C'mon, nothing about Cabin in the Woods? 17% of Metafilter is in Austin at Interactive and nobody in the thread saw it? I couldn't go! I had work! Telll meee! C'moooon!)

I didn't see it, but I saw Joss's panel and he and the interviewer made it pretty clear that the movie works better if you avoid spoilers, so I am doing so.

Re: Tara

*deep breath*

I still start crying if I talk about this for too long, so it's a good thing I have a keyboard. Tara's death, at the end of a wildly unsatisfying arc (magic is drugs! drugs make you dehydrated! drink lots of water!) basically killed the show for me. I watched Season 7, and grudgingly liked it ok, but the magic (the drugs!) was gone.

I didn't start watching Buffy because of the Gay Themes. I started watching it in high school, senior year, season three. Buffy was my age. She graduated high school the week after I did. I identified with those characters in a way I never had with TV characters before - and never had since. I wanted to save Faith (or maybe just let her chain me to the wall, I couldn't decide,) I wanted to be best friends with Willow, I wanted to be around to have Buffy's back. These were clearly my people.

The moment in Season Four, during Hush, when Willow and Tara grab hands and kick ass together? That was... shocking. In a good way. (The DVD commentary claims that the writers didn't yet know at that point that those two would end up together, but all that means is they weren't paying attention.) I was newly out, in my first real relationship, and still a little bit tentative about being gay out in the big world. Watching them come together over the next two years and forge a solid, loving, totally normal relationship, complete with kitten, was an anchor for me. Here were people just like me, in several important ways, and they were doing just fine. They were good people. The world had a place for them.

And then they start to have some problems. I hate that whole addiction arc, except for the relationship part of it. I think it was an excellent examination of what happens when the person you love starts doing things you can't live with - Tara leaving felt real, and hard, and right. And then, in a moment of stress, they decide to try again. And that was great - again, it felt real. Maybe not smart, maybe it was too early, but I was totally on board.

And then a stray bullet comes through the window.

Now, I have read Joss's defense of this. Death is random, and pointless, and cruel. Relationships don't always have neat arcs. Sure, yeah, I get it. But in that moment, I lost the only example of a relationship like mine in mainstream media. The only one. It was dead, for no better reason than to remind us that life is hard. My first long-term relationship had recently collapsed, and the only model of lesbian relationships that I had was telling me that I was going to die alone.

When Willow tried to end the world, I was cheering for her.

I moved on, sort of. Still read the comic, if sporadically. Still a big Whedon fan. But I'm crying again.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:24 PM on March 13, 2012 [18 favorites]


The moment in Season Four, during Hush, when Willow and Tara grab hands and kick ass together? That was... shocking. In a good way.

That might be my favorite part of that episode. That's astonishing, though, about the commentary. They didn't know?!

Now, I have read Joss's defense of this. Death is random, and pointless, and cruel. Relationships don't always have neat arcs.

What pissed me off most about it was Whedon's apparent ignorance of the Lesbian Relationship Must End With One of Them Dead or Married to a Man trope, which, for a guy as knowledgeable and interested in pop culture, was inexcusable to me. It still pisses me off.
posted by rtha at 10:26 PM on March 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Didn't know? Really? Well the actors or the editors must have known cause that was thunderbolt on the gun level foreshadowing.
posted by The Whelk at 10:38 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]




Thanks ZeusHumms that was a great read.

I still don't forgive Joss for killing Anya.
posted by Bonzai at 11:23 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


But in that moment, I lost the only example of a relationship like mine in mainstream media. The only one. It was dead, for no better reason than to remind us that life is hard. My first long-term relationship had recently collapsed, and the only model of lesbian relationships that I had was telling me that I was going to die alone.

When Willow tried to end the world, I was cheering for her.


Yes, all of this, except that I was over 40 and my reaction was an appalled Don't you know what this means for young women? Young lesbians? To take this relatively safe imaginative space, where girls can be in love and build relationships, and then destroy it by letting us all know that there is no safe space, that the hard rules of the world still apply, even here (the hard rules in this case being Lesbians cannot have relationships, that one of them will die, that gayness is transitory and unserious, etc. etc.).

I hated Tara's death and still question it.
posted by jokeefe at 10:58 AM on March 15, 2012


It follows the rule in Buffy that the insant anyone has any kind of happiness it is RIPPED AWAY FROM THEM IN THE MOST VIOLENT WAY POSSIBLE (Which I why I liked the ending so much, actually) but my bigger problem with Tara was her terminal lack of personality which she was just getting over before she got shot.
posted by The Whelk at 11:03 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also apparently someone I know got drunk with Danny Strong like yesterday.
posted by The Whelk at 11:37 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lesbian Relationship Must End With One of Them Dead or Married to a Man trope

Except that the trope is "girl is tempted by thought of lesbian relationship, but then her crush dies before she gets to act on it or after briefly acting on it, thus allowing audience flirtation with idea of lesbianism, but saving character from being identified as lesbian (e.g. film version of Fried Green Tomatoes)."

There is no trope, at all, of "girl becomes lesbian, falls in love with another lesbian, has multiple year relationship with lesbian, breaks up with lesbian over something unrelated to her sexuality, gets back together with lesbian who then dies, girl continues to be lesbian and continues to have string of other lesbian lovers."

People drag out this "OMG, it's the lesbian-must-die" trope but it just. doesn't. fit. It's as if you had a black guy who is the very last character to die in a horror film and you said "see--that's the "black guy buys it in the horror film trope." Other than a black guy died, it's the exact opposite of the trope.

I can get anyone loving a character so much that it really pains them when they died. But trying to make this into somehow "Joss hates lesbians" or "Joss is punishing Tara or Willow or Me or Someone for being a lesbian" is just inventing a reason to punish Joss for your pain. Tara's death had no more to do with her sexuality than Joyce's or Wash's or Cordelia's had to do with theirs.
posted by yoink at 12:42 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think Whedon hates lesbians. I don't think he thinks lesbians or lesbian characters are less worthy of getting to tell real stories than his other characters. I don't think he was punishing them. I'm glad as hell that he made them as fully fleshed out characters with a complex a relationship as one can have on a TV show like that. No one I know who loved the show to death and yet hated what he did to Tara and Willow in particular thinks those things either, as far as I know.

I do think it was tone deaf to do what he did. Does everyone in the show have something horrible happen to them and/or someone they love? Yes. So in that sense, does it fit? Sure.

But please trust me when I tell you that, as a young lesbian who grew up with next to no representations of lesbians or lesbian relationships in pop culture, and what few there were almost entirely negative, what Whedon did to Tara and Willow stung in a way that the rest of the death and awfulness that happened in Buffy didn't. And whether he meant it to or not (pretty sure not!), every dyke I know who watched the show noticed that oh hey, lesbian relationship ended in death, just like it's supposed to!

That Tara's death doesn't match the trope in every exact fucking detail doesn't make belong any less to the "lesbian relationship ends in death" trope, which is a descriptor of a category, not a specific piece of writing.
posted by rtha at 1:25 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


And I forgot this: Except that the trope is "girl is tempted by thought of lesbian relationship, but then her crush dies before she gets to act on it or after briefly acting on it, thus allowing audience flirtation with idea of lesbianism, but saving character from being identified as lesbian (e.g. film version of Fried Green Tomatoes)."

This is not the only trope about lesbians and lesbian relationships. For real.
posted by rtha at 1:30 PM on March 15, 2012


But please trust me when I tell you that, as a young lesbian who grew up with next to no representations of lesbians or lesbian relationships in pop culture, and what few there were almost entirely negative, what Whedon did to Tara and Willow stung in a way that the rest of the death and awfulness that happened in Buffy didn't.

I believe that implicitly. I imagine that moms who watched the show with their daughters felt particularly hard hit by Joyce's death (and guess what--there is a trope about killing the parents of the hero!). That doesn't mean it wasn't good storytelling. You're telling me why you were heavily invested in Tara as a character. That's great. But that really isn't a reason for a writer to say "you know what--this character has to be immortal; no serious harm can ever come to her."

That Tara's death doesn't match the trope in every exact fucking detail

But it's not a question of "not fitting in exact fucking detail" it's that it doesn't fit at all beyond the fact that there's a lesbian character who dies. Unless you're saying that every single fictional lesbian must be an immortal then the trope is not "lesbians are mortal beings." The trope is "the lesbian is killed as a way of avoiding having to deal with having a major character actually be a lesbian." That's what's objectionable about the trope--it's killing off the lesbian as a way of disposing of the lesbian storyline.

But none of that applies to the situation in BTVS. Willow remained a major character. She remained lesbian (you only had to wait until the next season to have another ongoing lesbian relationship on the show).

If there is a "trope" of having major characters come out as lesbian, be in a committed and happy lesbian relationship with which we are clearly meant to identify for years before it ends in a death that in no way "removes" the lesbian storyline from the story I'd like to know of a single example of that "trope" that predates BTVS. It's really not meaningful to talk of a "trope" that has a single exemplar.

This is not the only trope about lesbians and lesbian relationships. For real.

No, indeed: it's the one about "killing off the lesbian character." For real.
posted by yoink at 1:41 PM on March 15, 2012


No, yoink, the argument isn't "Joss hates lesbians", no one is punishing Joss for their pain (what the fuck? saying something in a tv show hurt you is punishing people now?) , and that was a ridiculously harsh and callous way to make a bad point. I'm pretty sure I trust lesbians to know what their pop culture narratives are.

Look. Someone pointed out earlier that the Willow/Tara kiss in "The Body" was the first lesbian kiss on television. Especially because it comes in the context of a relationship, and it's not magically induced or forced like the first interracial kiss on television, that creates a real cultural identification with the relationship for people who had not, to this point, been represented as whole or dynamic or sexual, at all. I'm sure that wasn't Whedon's intention, but the problem with breaking cultural ground is that you don't know where you're going to end up.

They didn't have to live happily ever after. restless_nomad made a great point about how the dissolution of their relationship during the drugs metaphor thing felt hard but right. But when it came time to kill someone off, to show that death is random and could happen to anyone, why wasn't it Willow or Xander or even Any's who ate a bullet? Because in a fictional universe, death isn't random, and Tara's only role on the show was "lesbian", and that made her expendable. If you don't see how that says something to the community for whom Tara was a great symbol, I suggest you go back to cultural representation school and maybe try not being so insulting next time.

It made me really, really sad when Kal Penn's character was killed off for no fictional reason on House. I know the meta reason, of course. But while there have been an ok amount of Indians on TV, there have been vanishingly few Indian-Americans, especially ones who are basically just American but happen to be brown. So his character meant something to me. Do I think that that death was a "fuck you" aimed right at me? No. But I'd be lying if I said it didn't hurt, and you'd be an asshole if you told me it shouldn't have.
posted by Errant at 1:44 PM on March 15, 2012


But that really isn't a reason for a writer to say "you know what--this character has to be immortal; no serious harm can ever come to her."

Yes, that's exactly what I meant. Thank you so much for putting words in my mouth.
posted by rtha at 2:51 PM on March 15, 2012


I feel like a helpful term here might be killing the dog. The trope that, after discovering their sexuality, a character faces some sort of huge loss or trauma--their dog dies, or they get beaten to a pulp. Viewed individually, I don't think any works that enact this trope are trying to illustrate that lesbians should be harmed, say (including the trope namer, the fantastic I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip., where the author goes out of his way to tell you that the kid being gay has nothing to do with his dog getting run over by a car, even if he feels guilty about it). It's when viewed as a pattern or part of the larger cultural mythos that it becomes troubling, for queer viewers and readers. If every time there's a character discovering their sexuality through a positive queer relationship and then their partner bites it in a violent and traumatic way, then it starts to feel like "narrative punishment."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:50 PM on March 15, 2012


People drag out this "OMG, it's the lesbian-must-die" trope but it just. doesn't. fit.

Your description of the trope may match your one cite but it's not really the whole story. This is a good quote: "The problem isn't when gay characters are killed off: the problem is when gay characters are killed off far more often than straight characters, or when they're killed off because they are gay."

It's not a problem with Buffy, specifically, so much as it is a problem with the media milieu in which Buffy aired. This was right after Rent was huge, every bit of gay-written literature coming out of New York was about "Everyone gets AIDS and dies!" and while television was sort of starting to cope with The Gay Man as a stereotype if not a well-rounded character, lesbians were still either psycho or end up with a dude. (See: Kissing Jessica Stein, also, sort of relatedly, Chasing Amy.)
posted by restless_nomad at 5:07 PM on March 15, 2012


I saw Buffy for the first time in the summer of 2008- marathoned through it in the space of a couple of weeks, doing nothing but sleeping, eating, and watching Buffy. I had seen the first few episodes when they were on originally; I have no idea why I didn't watch it obsessively then. Even in 2008 I had no idea about Tara's death, and was just completely shocked and angry about it.

Finding out that Amber Benson and Adam Busch are dating was trippy though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:11 PM on March 15, 2012


Finding out that Amber Benson and Adam Busch are dating was trippy though.

Seriously! Also, Willow and Wesley have (or will shortly have) two kids!
posted by restless_nomad at 5:16 PM on March 15, 2012


Just from a narrative point of view I don't like Tara's death because it's another one of those things that seems to come from backward scripting, like "Willow needs to show her wrathful side and how powerful she really is, well what would make her that angry, well.." and like with the other ones I can see the reasoning behind it and explain it away, but I don't like it and it feels forced without even touching the Noble BUT DOOMED Queer stereotype that can all over the media in the 90s.

And mostly cause Tara was developing an actual personality after how many episodes and then poof. head shot.

Which oddly enough has now happened to another girl-liking character named Tara on a TV show just when she was starting to change and be interesting a bit cause the writers seemingly got into a corner.
posted by The Whelk at 5:18 PM on March 15, 2012


(oh god can we talk about Kissing Jessica Stein and how it hurts like fire?)
posted by The Whelk at 5:20 PM on March 15, 2012


Hmm, thanks to those who pointed out the "gay people always die" trope, which I'm embarrassed to admit that I wasn't aware of.

But it's curious to me that Joss seemingly wasn't aware of it, giving how Buffy is basically the Trope-Subverting-est show there ever was.
posted by jcreigh at 5:28 PM on March 15, 2012


I just think it was more the PEOPLE ARE FINALLY HAPPY TIME FOR SOMETHING HORRIBLE TO HAPPEN TO THEM thing, which happened in Buffy a lot. A. Lot.
posted by The Whelk at 5:35 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


PEOPLE ARE FINALLY HAPPY TIME FOR SOMETHING HORRIBLE TO HAPPEN TO THEM

That's not just a Buffy thing though - it's practically a Joss trademark.
posted by COD at 6:54 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's often wondered what Joss would be like if he had had one happy day in his life, because judging by his writing and writing leadership, it doesn't really seem that way sometimes.

But it's curious to me that Joss seemingly wasn't aware of it, giving how Buffy is basically the Trope-Subverting-est show there ever was.

I've always thought that Joss did what he did, and surrounded himself with pop culture junkies who filled in the blanks, and made his shows contemporary.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:15 PM on March 15, 2012


Finding out that Amber Benson and Adam Busch are dating was trippy though.

whoa

I love it when I hear Wesley/Alexis Denisof out-of-character. That must have been, like, the easiest audition in the world:

"Ok, Mr. Denisof, please give us your best nerdy voice, like you've just sucked down a helium balloon and you're about to win a Nobel Prize."
"When do I start?"
"Nice work, you've got the job."

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:53 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


And, y'know, I give Whedon a lot of shit for character arcs that are only shallowly realized, but credit where it's completely due, the Wesley arc is one of the finest I've ever seen anywhere.

(That it mostly occurred on a show with which Whedon had little involvement is not lost on me, but shh.)
posted by Errant at 1:52 AM on March 16, 2012


(That it mostly occurred on a show with which Whedon had little involvement is not lost on me, but shh.)

What? Whedon shifted most of his attention to Angel when it started; it's fairly popular in Buffy fandom to blame the slow decline of Buffy (and more or less steady increase in the quality of Angel) on Whedon being interested in Angel and leaving Buffy in the hands of other people. The idea that Whedon had "little involvement" with Angel is silly as hell.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:50 AM on March 16, 2012


I was one of those people completely torn up by the death of Tara, for all the reasons that have been listed by others. To the extent that it is still difficult for me to write about.

It's hard to express how frustrating, isolating, alienating it gets when nothing you read or see acknowledges you exist. And then suddenly, oh my god! Not only there but well depicted! The most popular female character on a good show has a girlfriend! I can't, I really am finding myself unable to, describe how that felt.

And you know what? Even considering that, I think they could have come up with a good plot where she died. I think it's a mistake to say that people who were devastated (and that's not too strong a word) by her death thought she should have been bulletproof.

But the way she died was so STUPID.

She was suddenly reduced to nothing but a Plot Device ... in the service of a bad plot. And it's the second part that's actually the devastating part. I mean, every character in a show is a Plot Device sometimes. But ... the ONLY depiction on TV where I could see myself reflected got sacrificed for Veiny Willow and "your shirt".

No one was shattered by their troubles, their arguments, their break-up. No one freaked when Tara got her brain drained. We didn't want them to be perfect. We didn't want them to be the Model Lesbians. We loved that they were real and flawed and happy and sad and US.

But then they just threw it away.

Oh, I know the argument. That was to show the randomness of death, sometimes it just happens. You didn't mind when Jenny Calendar or Joyce Summers died!

Jenny Calendar's death was a crucial part of arguably the best season of the series. Joyce Summers' death led to The Body. And, yeah, I'll admit, no one was relying on Jenny Calendar of Joyce Summers as the only realistic they could see of themselves anywhere on TV.

It deserved more than that. We needed more than that. If they wanted to kill off Tara, if they wanted to blow that apart, it deserved more than Season Friggin' Six.
posted by kyrademon at 8:16 AM on March 16, 2012


Err, really? My understanding was that David Greenwalt was largely the showrunner on Angel, and that Buddy's decline was down more to Whedon abdicating showrunning duties there to focus on producing many projects, including Angel but also including Firefly, which aired concurrently.
posted by Errant at 9:19 AM on March 16, 2012


No, yoink, the argument isn't "Joss hates lesbians"

No--the argument is that Whedon unthinkingly and unwittingly used a trope that is rooted in homophobia. See e.g.:

Tara's only role on the show was "lesbian", and that made her expendable

But that's an absurd claim. Tara was "expendable" because she wasn't one of the absolute core characters of the show. Her being a lesbian was no more the reason she was chosen to die than Angel's sexuality was the reason he was chosen to die at the end of S2 (and no, the fact that Angel came back is neither here nor there--Whedon intended to bring Tara back, it was only the actress's unwillingness that prevented that from happening). She was chosen to die because that was the only plausible trigger to flip Willow over to the dark side. That may or may not have been a sucky story line, but it wasn't, at all, the "the gay character dies" trope.

Your description of the trope may match your one cite but it's not really the whole story. This is a good quote: "The problem isn't when gay characters are killed off: the problem is when gay characters are killed off far more often than straight characters, or when they're killed off because they are gay."

I actually browsed through that TVTropes link before I posted, so no, it doesn't contain anything counter to my argument. In fact, the part of it you quote is, oddly, pretty much the heart of my argument: "The problem isn't when gay characters are killed off." In fact if you go a little further back in that paragraph you can see that they are very specifically (I think with the Buffy scenario firmly in mind) ruling out the kind of situation in which Tara's death occurred:
Please note that sometimes gay characters die in fiction because in fiction sometimes people die (this is particularly true of soldiers at war, where Sitch Sexuality and Anyone Can Die are both common tropes)
"Anyone Can Die" was the major mission statement for BTVS from the very first episode (with Jesse's death). It is THE characteristic of Whedon's writing that the casual fan (and non-fan) is aware of.

It is certainly and inarguably true that neither "gay characters are killed of more often than straight characters" nor "gay characters are killed off because they are gay" applies to BTVS in general or to Tara's death in particular. Angel, Jenny Callender, Wesley, Joyce, Fred, Doyle, Cordelia--all were characters who were as close or closer to being "core" characters than Tara and all of them died regardless of their sexuality.

Just from a narrative point of view I don't like Tara's death because it's another one of those things that seems to come from backward scripting, like "Willow needs to show her wrathful side and how powerful she really is, well what would make her that angry, well.." and like with the other ones I can see the reasoning behind it and explain it away, but I don't like it and it feels forced

Yeah, that's another argument altogether--was Tara's death handled well as a story. Given that S6 is a horribly goddam trainwreck from a storytelling p.o.v. (the ghastly magic-as-alcohol/drugs disaster) it's hard to put lipstick on that pig. There's every reason to feel outrage that a favorite character was sacrificed to a bad storyline--but that's not the same thing as the accusation that somehow Whedon was trading in a homophobic story trope when he very clearly was not. (Sidebar: how did "trope" end up getting this meaning? It should be "topos"--tropes really operate more at the sentence level and less at the story level--but ah well...).

Yes, that's exactly what I meant. Thank you so much for putting words in my mouth.

If your argument is that the "the lesbian always dies" trope is fulfilled whenever a lesbian character dies (and so far you've made no other attempt to define how Tara's death fits this "trope"), then I'm not putting words in your mouth. If the only way to avoid this trope is never to allow a lesbian character to die then you are, in fact, arguing that writers must say "if I create a lesbian character, she must be invulnerable."

I think the claim that Tara's death fits the "Bury your gays" tropes relies on a false and simplistic misreading of the nature of the trope: it's implying that you can somehow come up with a purely mechanical checklist ("gay character?" check "gay character dies?" check) and that determines whether or not the trope has been fulfilled. But that's not how these kinds of tropes work. You can't say whether or not a trope of this kind is in play without considering the broader context of the action within the story and the specific meaning of the action when it occurs.

Take, for example, the trope of "killing the hero's parents" that I mentioned above (and which I think we could say that Joyce's death is, in fact, an example of). Clearly that trope is about the hero's transition from childhood to adulthood, about the hero being thrust into the world without the protection of their parent's guidance, about the hero having to forge their own destiny etc. etc. etc. In other words, you can't say whether or not a particular story has deployed this trope just by asking "does the hero have parents?" and "do they die?" If, for example, you have a story in which the hero slays the dragon, marries the prince/princess, lives happily ever after and, in the story's epilogue you learn that they buried their parents after they had lived long and happy lives then that's not an example of the trope. The parents' death had no part to play in the hero's self-creation.

Similarly, you might not actually check off any of the boxes and the trope might still be in play: the deaths of Luke Skywalker's aunt and uncle fits the trope, for example--casting the hero out of his ordinary life and onto the path of adventure, despite the fact that his father is still alive, in fact. (And, similarly, Darth Vader's death is not an example of the trope--because, again, it happens at the end of the story).

And that's why you can't just say "Tara's a lesbian, Tara dies--that's the 'bury your gays trope." The "bury your gays" trope is only in play if the purpose of the trope is in some way to sideline or excuse or otherwise minimize the significance of some character's 'deviant' sexuality. If you kill your gay character as a way to make them sympathetic "despite" their sexuality, for example (arguably the case in Philadelphia, for example) or to foreclose the possibility that your main character will actually become or stay gay, or as a way of punishing a character for becoming gay--all of those would fit the "bury your gays" trope. But if a gay character who is well-established, whose sexuality is not a "problem" in the character's story-world dies for reasons utterly unconnected to her sexuality and other gay characters continue to exist in that storyworld and in no way question their own sexuality as a result of the other character's death then, no--the "bury your gays" trope just. didn't. happen.
posted by yoink at 10:35 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Err, really? My understanding was that David Greenwalt was largely the showrunner on Angel, and that Buddy's decline was down more to Whedon abdicating showrunning duties there to focus on producing many projects, including Angel but also including Firefly, which aired concurrently.

Whedon wrapped The Avengers earlier this year and then went out and directed Much Ado About Nothing by way of "relaxing" from that experience. He's going to be working on a sequel to Dr. Horrible over the summer. I think some four movies that he either wrote or directed will be released in the next year.

All of which is to say--the guy is an unstoppable story-machine. Even if he wasn't officially deeply involved in show-running Angel I don't think it would be in his nature to just sit on the sidelines. And, after all, he co-wrote the episode in which Wesley dies (and I seem to remember from the commentary somewhere that he wrote pretty much all of the Wesley/Illyria dialogue from Illyria's first appearance). I think his fingerprints are all over the Wesley arc.
posted by yoink at 10:42 AM on March 16, 2012


Yoink, I think you're arguing against a point that no one's exactly making. It doesn't really matter whether or not Tara's death fits the trope or not - what matters is that, because that trope existed and was particularly prevalent at that time, Tara's death had a resonance that the writers didn't necessarily intend, and was disproportionately upsetting to a particular set of people.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:55 AM on March 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also I think there's value in just checking privilege and listening when multiple members of a group tell you that the death of a representative character hurt them, deeply and personally.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:04 AM on March 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


If I remember correctly, Tara was killed by accident as part of a plotline that didn't directly involve her. In other words, she did not die because it was the inevitable end of her character arc - she died, as yoink put it, because she was 'the only plausible trigger to flip Willow over to the dark side'.

In other words, her death had significance only as it related to a different character. This is also one of the defining traits of a disposable minority character.
posted by anaximander at 11:11 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I remember correctly, Tara was killed by accident as part of a plotline that didn't directly involve her.

This falls in with a more general problem the show had: almost no plot arcs had anything to do with Tara. She was always just seemed like Willow's Girlfriend. She was charming, there wasn't really anything "wrong" with her, but I'm trying and failing to think of the episodes that were really about her own desires and conflicts.

There was one Tara-centric episode that I can think of: "Family," the one with Amy Adams. In that one, the problem was ultimately resolved by punching Tara in the face. It's not a bad episode, but as far as showcasing Tara went, it wasn't exactly what "The Zeppo" was for Xander.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:30 AM on March 16, 2012


Yeah Tara is a problem cause she's Willow's Girlfriend and nothing else, they try to write around this with her being shy and introverted and an implied abuse victim but really she's just a placeholder, not a character, and just when they started to do some interesting divisions between her and Willow (I thought there was something in the different ways they approach magic, it's more like religion and instinctive with Tara whereas Willow had to work really hard to master it and looks at it like a hammer) but then bam, random death.
posted by The Whelk at 11:34 AM on March 16, 2012


Even the divisions between Tara and Willow with regard to the magic stuff seemed fairly tired. Long-suffering partner of an addict type stuff. The magic as drugs angle would have worked better had the comparison been less one-to-one, with magic being weirdly comparable to cocaine.

There needed to be a twist beyond "don't become addicted to magic." What if using too much magic was inviting Cthulhu into your heart - you thought you were becoming more powerful, but that was because you were allowing yourself to become a vessel for a not-so-nice power? Or what if using too much magic invited Ligottian horrors - you became more powerful because you were becoming more and more removed from humanity, meaning that the only way to safely increase your magic power was to counter it with meditation, philosophy, and outsized celebrations of the real world?

Or, I dunno, something.

Anyway, despite its massive problems, Season Six is still one of my favorites. Seasons Three, Five and Six for life.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:51 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, there where just flashes of a way more interesting story thread there, like why aren't there more magic users? If this shit worked you bet there would be a couple thousand websites about it, so maybe it working enough to notice does let unspeakable demons into your heart? Maybe a lot of people blow themselves up? And as for the Going To Far with magic plot line, drugs dont feel right. Being good at magic gives you really inhumane amounts of power and authority over people, the one to one analogy isn't drugs, it's money.
posted by The Whelk at 11:57 AM on March 16, 2012


I think this might be kinda irrelevant to the arguments being made here, since I think this angle was sort of retconned into being (in that I don't recall it being mentioned before S8), but in the comic Willow draws a straight line between her resurrection of Buffy and Tara's death (Warren was shooting at Buffy). I think thematically that's terrific, and stronger than "death is random" or "we needed her death as a trigger for Willow", but since I think it came into being later, I don't think it serves as a defence of Tara's death.

As a non-lesbian who didn't tie her or them to being representatives of any group, I did find it a tremendously powerful moment in the show, and I'm sorry it hurt people and I understand the implications I never had to think about, but it is one of the major events of the series that stuck with me (and hit me like a truck).
posted by neuromodulator at 11:59 AM on March 16, 2012


(found the page in question here, but the photo won't load for me until i hit the zoom button)
posted by neuromodulator at 12:04 PM on March 16, 2012


really she's just a placeholder, not a character

While there is a "gay-character-must-die" trope in modern TV and film (which is slowly evaporating), the lesbian angle is entirely incidental to Tara's death, and it's unfortunate that Joss Whedon gets painted with a pretty ugly brush by sheer temporal circumstance.

It has to be incidental, because that trope really only gets used to reinforce the idea that a character's non-typical sexuality is shameful or abnormal, and there's nothing (that I can recall) in BtVS — specifically in how Tara and Willow were written and portrayed — to suggest that the writers believe those negative traits to be true about either of them.

Could Whedon have been more sensitive to the trap that this trope presented? Maybe, but Tara had to go, in order to develop and self-actualize Willow's character. I don't think he had much of a choice, without letting Willow's character (and the S6 narrative arc) remain undeveloped. Tara needed to go in order to conclude Willow's extended adolescence.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:09 PM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Tara is expendable because she isn't one of the absolute core characters, doesn't that sort of speak against the "anyone can die" idea? "Anyone" doesn't die in a Whedon show, at least not until the very end. In fact, if you aren't in a romantic relationship, your odds of being killed off are very, very low; conversely, if your only identity is as a romantic partner, your odds of dying are very, very high. If "anyone can die" is supposed to be the mission statement, they strayed pretty far from it.

There is a difference between straight-up homophobia and continuing a trend of marginalization, and it seems to be a difference that's lost on you. No one's saying that the dude who put the first lesbian kiss on TV is a homophobe. But killing off one of the most prominent gay characters in genre random for no story reason other than to demonstrate a "randomness" that never existed in this universe has representational repercussions, especially because her role was largely "girlfriend". Tara's death might be the only random thing that happens in seven seasons. That sort of unusual action gets more attention and more criticism, because it is so jarring, and the target of that unusual action is going to suffer mote scrutiny, because it's just fucking weird. Why her, why now?

On preview: but they'd already done a fine job of sending Tara away. How much more interesting would it have been if Tara left, not because of some quirk of fate, but because Willow drove her away? It's a much better, and harder, story. Sometimes dying is the easier thing to have happen.
posted by Errant at 2:17 PM on March 16, 2012


No one's saying that the dude who put the first lesbian kiss on TV is a homophobe.

Well, perhaps, maybe, there's just a teeny-tiny bit of an insinuation there. Not Jesse Helms wanting to put gays in the oven, certainly, but more of the kind of banal, systemic bigotry that one occasionally sees come out of the Hollywood sausage-making process. That sort of thing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2012


Driving Tara away would have been interesting, but the underlying story would have had to have been more interesting as well. Maybe if they had gone for a Six Feet Under-esque bit where Tara pours a great deal of her own personal reserves into fixing Willow up, only to wind up feeling completely exhausted, causing her to leave Willow right when it looks like she can take care of herself.

Or: they stay together, but the Tara-the-healer is more snarky, contrary, and assertive than she was before.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2012


No one's saying that the dude who put the first lesbian kiss on TV is a homophobe.

Citation for the "first lesbian kiss on TV" bit, please.
posted by jokeefe at 2:36 PM on March 16, 2012


L. A. Law was the first TV show to feature a lesbian kiss. Buffy featured the first long-ish term lesbian relationship, as well as the first lesbian sex scene on American network television.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:41 PM on March 16, 2012


L.A. Law is seemingly credited for the first lesbian TV kiss.
posted by nadawi at 2:43 PM on March 16, 2012


Errant: "If Tara is expendable because she isn't one of the absolute core characters, doesn't that sort of speak against the "anyone can die" idea?"

He killed the title character. Twice.
posted by Bonzai at 11:05 PM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's funny, I'm almost positive I saw her walking around at the end of "Chosen". It must have been all the magics, I mean drugs.

Alternately, killing your title character in a season finale and then resurrecting her after a summer or a commercial break is not really killing, unless you have some inside information about death that you'd like to share.

I have been getting the "lesbian television milestone" wrong, and man that's a phrase I'll happily never say again, because it shouldn't be about milestones. Regardless, I apologize.
posted by Errant at 2:31 AM on March 17, 2012


Watched "Doppelgangland" last night, and was struck by the silences between lines of dialogue, and it was great fun, but the pacing seemed a wee bit slow. Do they talk faster now in TV?
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:29 AM on March 17, 2012


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