Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Joss Whedon,
December 6, 2001 9:38 AM   Subscribe

Joss Whedon, only a few weeks ago, brought audiences what was arguably the best hour in television history with the musical episode. Then, last week, he brought us a shameful don't-do-drugs piece of drivel. Has the best-written show on television finally gone bad, along with Willow? I know there was a Buffy thread a couple of months ago, but so much has changed since then...
posted by bingo (54 comments total)

 
i wonder if the networks don't ask people (contractually) to produce certain themed shows in a season. that said: stay in milk. don't do school.
posted by moz at 9:42 AM on December 6, 2001


It was either going to be something like this or "Willow becomes evil and kills all her friends." Not only was that plot line already done in season 2, but her fans would have stormed the Buffy set and walked out with Joss's head on a stick.

Personally, I thought it was a good episode, if a bit obvious.
posted by billybunny at 9:44 AM on December 6, 2001


From what i've read, Joss hasn't been as involved in this season as much as previous ones. While "Wrecked" was very Afterschool Special ala Don't do drugs, Jenny Ate Something... it wasn't as bad as everyone is whining about. This season so far is a downer. Its dark, and it doesn't seem to be getting brighter anytime soon. I'm sure Joss is getting plenty of feedback about the first half of the season, and hopefully he'll be more involved in the second half.
posted by jbelshaw at 9:49 AM on December 6, 2001


I must confess, the musical episode drew me back to Buffy after a couple years absence, and I'm enjoying catching repeats on Fox (thank God for TiVo).

Last Tuesday's episode was fair, just as most of this season has been fair so far. I think it might just be that after, what, 5 - 6 years, it's getting stale-ish.
posted by ebarker at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2001


It's worth checking out the Buffy forums over at Mighty Big TV for exhaustive discussion of this particular episode and how the show has strayed the last eason or two.
posted by Bezuhin at 9:54 AM on December 6, 2001


Part of what I'm concerned about in the long term is that the magic-as-drug metaphor probably can't hold up. After all, magic has always been a big part of the show...heck, it's part of what makes the show interesting. And I agree with Willow when she said that she's just not as interesting without powers. Healthier people are more boring than crazed people, and I don't want to watch these characters get healthy and boring.
posted by bingo at 9:57 AM on December 6, 2001


It wasn't a horrible ep. Wasn't a great ep either.
posted by Darke at 9:58 AM on December 6, 2001


There was a lot of gnashing of teeth over the fact that the drug "metaphor" was way too obvious, we were being hit over the head with it, etc. Buffy doesn't always write in metaphor. This was a case of subtext becoming text, as the show would say. The drug=magic formulation was admittedly imprecise, but watch the episode again without feeling the need for a metaphor to decode. Watch specifically for Alyson Hannigon's performance, and then take a moment to appreciate Sarah Michelle Gellar, Michelle Trachtenberg, and James Marsters, all of whom turned in good performances totally overshadowed by the amazing AH.

I will forever be baffled by the Chicken Little phenomenon that surrounds this show. I remember way back in Season 3, when the show really began its ascent into the mainstream, and there were all sorts of "longtime fans" running around shouting about how the show had gone completely down the tubes. And now, two seasons later, Season 3 is hailed by many of these same folks as even better than the universally adored Season 2. Although in terms of overall season arc, Season 5 suffered a bit, the season probably had the most consistently fantastic individual episodes of any thus far. And this season has delivered Bargaining, After Life, Once More With Feeling and Tabula Rasa, all in its first half, all spectacular episodes.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 10:01 AM on December 6, 2001


it reminded me of another rather transparent episode from a few years back called "beer bad," in which buffy spend a night out drinking - her first - with some frat boys from UC sunnydale. apparently the beer was enchanted and turned anyone who drank enough into cavepeople.

on the whole, buffy has had dumb episodes like this throughout its run (i'm sure all die-hard buffy fans remember the stupid columbine-like teen violence episode, "earshot") but they've always been used to solidify weirder character points. and they usually lead to more formative episodes bringing real resolution to conflicts.

my bets are on amy, who's just been de-ratted, going evil. not willow.
posted by patricking at 10:17 AM on December 6, 2001


Joss has stepped back from BTVS... he has stated that he is concentrating more on Angel this year, and trying to get it on track... that being said, The problem I have always had with Buffy, is that I never know where it's going.. the "Big Bad" this season has been rumored to be everyone from Amy, to WIllow, to Buffy herself, to the Triad of Doom.... and I am willing to be that no matter what I think, as always, I'll be wrong

I like the idea that buffy has a story arc for every season... it allows the writers to have eps like this one in which AH gives a great performance, but as jbelshaw mentioned, felt WAY to "afterschool Special"... and yet still keep the overall vision going.. heck I wouldn't be too surprised if there are more remifications form this ep then WIllow being turned off of magic for a while...

Oh - and for the record... I don't think Amy is going to much of a factor anymore... too strung out.. my bet is on the Nerds of Doom thinking they are the big bad, and then helping Buffy defeat the REAL big bad at the end of the season... and my marbles are on Spike being the Big Bad :-)

ah well

nH
posted by niteHawk at 10:27 AM on December 6, 2001


I'm not sorry that I find it pathetic when good actors are used to turn good dramatic shows into after school specials. Yes, the acting was good. Yes, it was probably done well, but it shouldn't have been done in the first place.

I enjoyed the first four seasons. I feel that the fifth was dulled down by the dragged out issues with Buffy's mom. And this season... Well, they have good potential conflict - Buffy rises from the dead, but was in heaven and that sucks. She's got a thing for Spike, who can now beat on her. Willow was getting lured into the darker side of magic, although they blew that. And even without the "big bad", they had potential to make it good. Instead, they do a PSA. Woo hoo.

I miss first season.
posted by ringmaster at 11:24 AM on December 6, 2001


Well poop. I kind of enjoyed the Wrecked episode, even though I didn't like the metaphor. I also didn't like how my VCR recorded poorly cuz I was watching something else at the time. That's what I get for dumping cable. I stopped watching Buffy years ago when Oz left the show. By then the writing had gotten lower than the quality of the original movie that it's based on. When Buffy recently switched to the UPN network, I started watching out of curiosity, and I'm with Grrarrgh - This season's been spectacular.

From the beginning though I figured they'd have to insure Willow's going to suffer greatly for toying with black magic. I mean she sacrificed a fawn for crying out loud. You can't do that on prime time television without repercussions. It's like a law in Hollywood I think. I had hoped however they'd go more off the deep end with it. Like have Osiris pay her a visit to personally deliver her his bill. The drug metaphor's kind of a copout, but they've handled it very well considering.

The real problem with the show is how they're using a lot of copouts. For example, Faith is Buffy's replacement from the last time she died. Faith's last known whereabouts were in jail. So technically they didn't need to bring in a new slayer when Buffy died, even though her replacement is pretty worthless right now. The actress playing her won't come back either. Also, they're writing Giles out of the script in a cheesy way. I guess the actor wants out. So instead of getting a replacement Watcher, she's just left to fend for herself? Well, nobody expected her to live past the age of 20 anyway.

And a lot of the mythology of the series is just real circumspect. It's an attempt to modernize all the "things that go bump in the night" legends. Overall it's not done very well. Why are all these demons just bumming around Sunnyvale playing poker for kittens when their purpose is to come out of the mouth of hell underneath the city and do general terrorizing and stuff? And why doesn't the Slayer and her Slayerettes just go find the mouth of hell and plug it up with a cork or something? The writing is often disjointed with everything happening just for the sake of the plot, and since the writers made way too many stupid choices in past seasons, they've written themselves into a tholian web of precedence and weird asusmptions that stretch the level of disbelief to the breaking point.

It's a fun roller coaster though. I didn't get the feeling they were trying to preach the evils of drugs with Willow's recent decline, but were trying to convey her fall from grace in a way they felt their audience could empathize and understand. Most people who do drugs (or black magic for that matter) know the dangers and costs. They do it anyway. An episode of "Buffy" will surely not bring any converts to the "just say no" campaign, nor was its intent.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:26 AM on December 6, 2001


arguably the best hour in television history with the musical episode...

oh, shut up.
posted by jpoulos at 11:46 AM on December 6, 2001


It's Marti Noxon who is now presiding over Buffy. Marti likes it dark and miserable, and she likes it... um, 'soap', it seems. The show is lacking its usual comic relief - although 'Tabula Rasa' felt good. I can deal with the boring drugs metaphor even if they whack me in the face with it for hours, but I can't deal with Giles leaving. At all. We 35+ girls need something shagworthy on our favourite show.
posted by prolific at 11:46 AM on December 6, 2001


i always long for a good buffy discussion on MeFi...
but - really people - how can we possible talk about this episode without talking about spike and buffy? Nobody thought that it was cool to watch willow super-tripping? i was going 'holy shit' the whole time. There are some bad episodes, and I do have issues with the way that Giles is leaving thing - but it wasn't like 'beer bad'! It wasn't at all like 'beer bad'!
'Beer bad' was terrible; it was excrutiating. This episode was an important and good episode, if only for the way that the characters grew, and fell. There was stuff going on in this episode that needed to happen.

I think that this episode brought back a lot of energy to the show, Willow isn't better like with a snap of the fingers.
posted by goneill at 11:54 AM on December 6, 2001


Last season: Bad. Season before: Really Bad. This season: Fantastic.

I'm shocked and amazed that they've managed to pull the show out of the maudlin swamp it had sunk into ever since the Angel Leaves/Buffy Loves Riley/Buffy's Mom Dies mega-arc of misery. I do wish the Nerds would show up more often this season though. It's been a few eps now without them, and they're one of the best features of the season.

If this is what comes of Joss concentrating on other things, then I for one hope he keeps it up. Though I suspect it's just a result of the writers lightening up a little, turning down the drama a tad and nudging up the funny a few notches.

Angel's been pretty good too, while we're on the subject.
posted by rusty at 11:58 AM on December 6, 2001


The anti drug message could be caused by outside forces. According to this Salon article the federal government was paying networks to insert anti-drug messages into their shows. Could be this script was a result of those pressures.

Then again, maybe it is deliberate. Buffy has always been about the trials of growing up, and speaking as someone who watched a few friends fall into addiction it's a harsh lesson to learn. Buffy learned that she can't save everyone with her Mom's death, maybe Willow's addiction will teach her that not everyone wants to be saved.
posted by BenNewman at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2001


goneill: i can't discuss S/B without screaming. I want Spike to be bad. He needs to get that chip out of his head, drag Dru back and start killing things.
posted by jbelshaw at 12:15 PM on December 6, 2001


Haven't seen it since it moved to UPN. Out of sight, out of mind.
posted by RavinDave at 12:24 PM on December 6, 2001


The problem I have always had with Buffy, is that I never know where it's going..

Dude, that's on purpose. And it's one of the reasons why I love the show. What fun would it be if you knew what was going to happen?
posted by bingo at 12:40 PM on December 6, 2001


Will Spike bite her? Will she like it? How depraved will they get?

I like it dark and evil, personally. Although I hate that Buffy seems suddenly stupid or weak about simple things (air-headed, almost), but not in a funny way. They seem to be leaning on that tactic to draw out conflicts like with the Nerds.

I think the 'Big Bad' is going to have to do with Buffy 'not coming back right' and not being completely human anymore.
posted by rich at 12:52 PM on December 6, 2001


Yup. "Beer Bad" was bad. Like, "Spock's Brain" bad.
I rather liked "Wrecked," though.

Tell me, am I the only one who thought of Charlotte Gilman Perkins' "The Yellow Wallpaper" during Willow's trip? I asked that on a Buffy message board, and either I'm insane, or Buffy fans don't read fin de siecle gothic literature.
posted by Fenriss at 12:57 PM on December 6, 2001


i like this new spike bader thing - i like the whole - he loves her but he isn't good either. i don't think i've ever seen anything as disturbing as willow tripping and buffy into s/m. that episode was nuts!! but, i find drusilla slightly annoying - i like that she likes a real vampire - and he likes the slayer "the only thing better than killing a slayer is ..." that was a bad ass line.
posted by goneill at 1:02 PM on December 6, 2001


not bader (like nader) but badder, like ladder
posted by goneill at 1:03 PM on December 6, 2001


Tell me, am I the only one who thought of Charlotte Gilman Perkins' "The Yellow Wallpaper" during Willow's trip? I asked that on a Buffy message board, and either I'm insane, or Buffy fans don't read fin de siecle gothic literature.

I read it...it's about a housewife having a nervous breakdown as I remember. Other than the fact that they're both about women hallucinating, I don't see the connection. But maybe it's just been too long since I've read the novel(ette).
posted by bingo at 1:07 PM on December 6, 2001


Bingo- the connection, I believe, is the naked women creeping (or being dragged) through foliage. I dunno. It immediately made me think of that.
posted by Fenriss at 1:09 PM on December 6, 2001


not bader (like nader) but badder, like ladder
posted by goneill at 1:33 PM on December 6, 2001


Fenriss, hrm, you could have something there. I'll have to read it again.
posted by bingo at 1:40 PM on December 6, 2001


Two words about bad Buffy episodes: Marti Noxon. Joss isn't paying as much attention to the series, and it shows — Noxon's never been capable of or interested in subtlety (as far as I can tell).

The part that bugs me is that they're paralleling Willow's obviously bad magic troubles with Buffy's rather refreshing sexual relationship with Spike. I mean, I'm finally getting the nasty taste of dorky, hyper-wholesome Riley out of my brain, so can't they just let Buffy have some great sex for awhile?

BTW: UPN will be re-running Hush and The Body, two of the best and most stylish Buffy episodes to date, for the next two Tuesday nights. Enjoy.
posted by blissbat at 1:42 PM on December 6, 2001


I'd never really seen an episode of BtVS before this year, but I watched the Season Premiere, got hooked, and have seen every episode since -- and enjoyed them all, even the last one. Now, you could argue that, having never seen the previous seasons of Buffy, I'm only enjoying it so much because I haven't seen the "really good episodes" to compare it to. And I suspect there is some truth to that. But I suspect that the reason I enjoy it so much is because ... well, because it's good. And having not been a devoted fan before I don't have any sense of it "selling out" or "losing focus" or "bring to each viewing the baggage of fear that it's "selling out" or "losing focus" or "becoming to dark", etc. etc.

I don't think any of the episodes this season have been terrific. But, put together, I really like the storyline, and I'm intrigued by what's going to happen next. And there you go.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 1:42 PM on December 6, 2001


good god, where do i start?

i'm sure all die-hard buffy fans remember the stupid columbine-like teen violence episode, "earshot"

shouldn't that be the "Earshot"-like Columbine teen violence incident? the episode came first.

So technically they didn't need to bring in a new slayer when Buffy died

there was no replacement Slayer. they had the Buffybot, which was used to fool everyone into thinking Buffy was alive, but that's all.

they're writing Giles out of the script in a cheesy way. I guess the actor wants out.

yeah, Tony Head would like to stop flying from England to LA to shoot the show. he wants to spend more time with his family. and how is the way they're writing him out cheesy? Buffy's an adult. she no longer needs a Watcher. she's relying on Giles to take care of the mundane things in her life instead of fending for herself and raising Dawn. Giles has been away from his home, his friends and any semblance of a life of his own for five years. he's ready to go home.

Why are all these demons just bumming around Sunnyvale

Sunnydale. mystical convergence. attracts demons. see episode one.

playing poker for kittens

kittens are tasty (that what they say).

their purpose is to come out of the mouth of hell underneath the city

the demons are already here. the Hellmouth is closed. essentially, Buffy is keeping the demons from reopening it.

and do general terrorizing and stuff?

not all demons are mindless killers. some of them are here just to live their lives.

they've written themselves into a tholian web of precedence and weird asusmptions that stretch the level of disbelief to the breaking point

how so? weird assumptions? like what?

were trying to convey her fall from grace in a way they felt their audience could empathize and understand

exactly! it wasn't a case of good actors being "used to turn good dramatic shows into after school specials."

Marti likes it dark and miserable... The show is lacking its usual comic relief

it reflects Buffy right now. i wouldn't think that being yanked from heaven and resurrected, and then having to claw your way out of your grave is something you'd get over easily (i could be wrong though since i was only resurrected that one time). "Because six or seven days, that's really all you need to get over eternal hell experiences."

i could go on (and on and on and on. it's something of an obsession for me) but FX is finishing up season four this week and i need to get home to watch.
posted by tolkhan at 2:02 PM on December 6, 2001


oh, one more: instead of getting a replacement Watcher, she's just left to fend for herself?

Watchers are there to train the Slayer to fight and to teach her about her duty, birthright, blah blah. there's not much more they can teach Buffy, so replacement Watcher unnecessary.
posted by tolkhan at 2:06 PM on December 6, 2001


Something that nobody has touched on re Giles leaving. Supposedly he's going to have his own series (same character) on the BBC. A darker, more adult-oriented show. I want to say the title is Ripper. And when it happens, it may be hard to get episodes in the U.S. for quite a while.
posted by bingo at 2:09 PM on December 6, 2001


Some details on The Ripper.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:22 PM on December 6, 2001


Um...that links to an EW interview with Spike and Giles, but they say nothing about the new show...
posted by bingo at 2:32 PM on December 6, 2001


Yes it does. And I am an ass. And I am sorry.

Ripper

Ripper is being developed by Buffy creator Joss Whedon, who obviously doesn't have enough to do. Whedon originally called this series The Watcher, because it's based on the Anthony Stewart Head character Giles from the Buffy series. Ripper refers to an old nickname Giles used to have in England. The series will indeed be filmed and take place in England. One of the reasons Head has cut back his appearances in Buffy is because he missed his family. As far as the series goes, it will revolve around Giles' Buffy-less adventures and should have more adult themes and its own tone.


Also, from a BtVS newsgroup (so don't take as gospel):

So, Fox have agreed (apparently) to fund the show using the BBC as a production company. The BBC would get first run rights as well, I believe. The BBC get to make a high quality, expensive, genre show for adults to be shown at peak time and they don't have the usual problem of paying for it. I believe the show will be more about Ghosts and more English legends than Vampires and Demons.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:48 PM on December 6, 2001


Anthony Stewart Head is contracted for more episodes this season, and is expected to return to Sunnydale. He's apparently been spotted in LA this month, so they might be filming his scenes now. (Or he might be there to work on his album which comes out in February.)

Tolkhan... I think we're equally obsessed, though we have different opinions. I think Buffy does need her Watcher still. Batman needs Robin. Holmes needs Watson. Buffy needs Giles. His leaving sent her into a funk that lead to her shagging Spike.

You may have noted in Giles' scene with Willow, in 'Flooded' (scolding her for dabbling in dark magic) the mark of Eyghon was no longer on his arm (and it was filmed in such a way that we would notice) - I suspect they'll resurrect that storyline when he returns.

I don't mind darkness. I'll probably like 'Ripper' more if it ever gets made - more adult, and darker. I just think the current season has a rocky start - with no apparent story arc for Xander & too many women, too few men on the show.

I feel slightly queasy and silly arguing over a TV show.
posted by prolific at 4:14 PM on December 6, 2001


prol: me too. but nevertheless: i'm hoping noxon's reading this thread. maybe we'll be done with those idiotic "buffy pays the bills" episodes. yeesh.
posted by patricking at 4:34 PM on December 6, 2001


Yay, talking about Buffy! I found last season to be tedious to the point where I stopped watching, but this season has been brilliant.. until Wrecked. Yes, Beer Bad was terrible too, but at least it didn't affect the overall Buffy canon. Not only was the comparison of magic and drugs overwrought and not a very good fit, but Willow's magic skills have previously been proven essential -- this plot development seems more like the writers were looking to end an easy "out" for future tense situations, like the broken sonic screwdriver in later Doctor Who episodes. (Wait.. did I just prove myself to be a complete and utter geek?)

The comparison between Buffy and Spike's relationship and drug abuse seemed more apt, but as someone said above, I like Buffy and Spike together, dammit. Actually, more to the point I like nearly-nude scenes with James Marsters, but if Spike needs to get his groove on with Buffy for that to happen, I'm all for it.
posted by jess at 5:15 PM on December 6, 2001


1. How can any one feel silly talking about Buffy?

2. Uh, yeah, Willow's magic has been used for good, but where does it say that something that has been used for good can't have negative repercussions? The magic is 'essential' like bringing buffy back from the dead was essential, but the good guys don't where white hats here. That was what this episode was about. Everybody is human (even if they are vampire/witches/whatever) nothing is all good, nothing is all bad. It's gray or grey. That's why this season of buffy has been cool. Good and evil, they are blurring the lines.
posted by goneill at 5:49 PM on December 6, 2001


i'm kind of digging the major characters contradicting themselves relentlessly: willow being cavalier with magic versus freaking when anja first asked her to help find her necklace; buffy getting spiked by spike after dumping riley for essentially the same thing.

tolkhan: good catch re: earshot versus columbine. i'd forgotten.
posted by patricking at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2001


do you guys remember how they wouldn't play that episode?
posted by goneill at 6:01 PM on December 6, 2001


tolkhan: good catch re: earshot versus columbine. i'd forgotten

yay! id id something right! "Earshot" was supposed to air about the same time that Columbine happened, but WB decide to postone for later. "EarshoT" was a good epiosode. I'd explaine why, but my roommmates nne I have been enjoying something alcohonlic, so i can't ecactly remeember why,..


Batman needs Robin. Holmes needs Watson.

but Giles wassn't a sidekick. he was a mentor, and Buffy no longer needs a mentor. she's lived longer than most Slayers, and he's trained her as far as he can.

His leaving sent her into a funk that lead to her shagging Spike.

it would have happened without Giles leabving. Spike is the one who can relate most close;y to what Buffy's going going through. Giles' departure wass incidental.

Something that nobody has touched on re Giles leaving

incidental. Buffy no longer needs a Watcher. the Ripper seies is a result of, not a cause of Giles' leaving.

Anthony Stewart Head is contracted for more episodes this season, and is expected to return

yes, but just as Kristine Sutherland's during seasons four and five, it'll be as a recurring character instead of a main cast member.

idiotic "buffy pays the bills" episodes. yeesh.

establishing Buffy as an adult, she has to be responsible for Dawn and her own life. these episodes establish that.

fuck. if i was sober, i'd be much more coherent and ecxplain much better. my roommate are laughing at me. i have to go now.
posted by tolkhan at 8:43 PM on December 6, 2001


Just a quick note. There are non-US residents who read MeFi, for which the new season has not yet started. Please try to provide some spoiler warning or something.
posted by krisjohn at 9:01 PM on December 6, 2001


oh god. i am *such* an ass. apologies, tooooooootally forgot the UK was a season behind.
posted by patricking at 10:03 PM on December 6, 2001


The whole thread has been about how much Buffy has changed lately. Read the initial post. That's a pretty big implied spoiler warning.

That said, you UK folk should do yourselves a favor and try to find the musical episode online. (If it's practical, get the 200-something mb version, rather than the fifty mb version).

The musical episode was the first hour of Buffy that I had ever seen. I must say, it was the greatest goddamn hour of television since the invention of the Cathode Ray Tube. A greater artistic accomplishment than the Sistine Chapel. Religions have been founded on ideas less groovy than those on display in this transcendent union of heart, mind, spirit, soul, and Clearasil commercials. (Yes, jpoulous, as a matter of fact, I am trying to make your head explode. :-) Okay, it wasn't all that, but it was a pretty good show.)
posted by Optamystic at 10:19 PM on December 6, 2001


I am an non-US resident. (pedant mode on) There's absolutely no excuse for not keeping up with season six. (off)

Seriously... apologies if I spoiled anyone.
posted by prolific at 11:48 PM on December 6, 2001


Tolkan, perhaps you're not a big ASH/Giles fan. Please allow me to believe she needs him - Slayer and Watcher are inseperable, and drawn to eachother (the Calling). That's my interpretation of the Buffyverse.
posted by prolific at 11:52 PM on December 6, 2001


i love me some Giles. 'specially when he's crooning. as for ASH, how can you not like a guy who likes to dress up as Wynonna Judd? (actually, that's from Rocky Horror).

forgot the UK was a season behind

they're a season behind, but they've already got the first three or four seasons on DVD? that BITES!
posted by tolkhan at 6:58 AM on December 7, 2001


"how so? weird assumptions? like what?"

Anya is a demon. Spike is a vampire. They're the bad guys but due to complex, weird assumptions it's okay to fraternize with these guys? Anya's totally reformed? I doubt that. Spike's got a joybuzzer in his ear. He's "had a trip to the vet and now the puppy doesn't chase the other puppies anymore." Why doesn't someone just put a stake in him and call him done? Why? Cuz it's not in the script. His contract says no. That's the only real reason.

The writers want it to look like they're savvy with 21st century pagan concepts. I could cite many times when either Willow or Tara have cited what amounts to common wiccan knowledge of their religion. Sometimes they get it right. Not that I'm any authority because I don't personally practice pagan beliefs, but I have dated wiccans, and one of my sisters is a practicing wiccan. My ex-wife was pagan. This gives me rudimentary knowledge.

There's no such thing as a warlock. Ask any pagan. I've been corrected on this mistake on more than one occasion. Men are witches. The term "warlock" is not used by modern-day wiccans, yet Willow's incorrectly corrected Zander at least twice. And we're supposed to believe she's becoming a powerful witch when she doesn't even have the basics of her own religion down? Warlock is more of a stereotypical thing, created by people who don't live the lifestyle.

So the Buffy writers follow known conventions when it's to their benefit, and then go on weird assumptions when it's funny or helps the plot along. So the little inconsistencies mess up the reality within their world's fantasy. A show like this only suspends disbelief as long as it remains true to the laws of para-science that it builds for itself. And Buffy doesn't.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:34 AM on December 7, 2001


Anya is a demon. Spike is a vampire. They're the bad guys but due to complex, weird assumptions it's okay to fraternize with these guys? Anya's totally reformed? I doubt that. Spike's got a joybuzzer in his ear. He's "had a trip to the vet and now the puppy doesn't chase the other puppies anymore." Why doesn't someone just put a stake in him and call him done? Why? Cuz it's not in the script. His contract says no. That's the only real reason.

Anya isn't reformed, but she is in love with Xander, which equals out to pretty much the same thing. Before she started dating him, she was evil. Well, evilish, what with her lack of powers and all. Now that she is (and has been since pretty much her third appearance), she's a good guy by proxy.

Spike was evil until Dawn came around. He was semi-evil for the beginning of the 5th season, but he and Dawn have a big-brother-type bond, so he's protective. He's also in love with Buffy. So yeah, he can't eat people, but he has other reasons. The only reason they kept him around in season 4 was because he kept bringing them information.

The writers want it to look like they're savvy with 21st century pagan concepts. I could cite many times when either Willow or Tara have cited what amounts to common wiccan knowledge of their religion. Sometimes they get it right.

Um, since when did 21st century pagan concepts involve shooting lightning from your hands and telepathy? Cause sign me up for some of that. Truth is, most people don't know common Wiccan knowledge, because they're not common Wiccans. Note also: Willow = still Jewish. While I'm sure you could identify a dreidel, you'd probably be hard pressed to cite every Jewish law (unless you are Jewish, in which case... well... still probably kinda difficult).

There's no such thing as a warlock. Ask any pagan.

True. But it's more of a male pronoun thing here, I think.

And we're supposed to believe she's becoming a powerful witch when she doesn't even have the basics of her own religion down?

Again with the Jewish. Magic in the Buffy universe doesn't revolve around religion, it revolves around mystical forces and what not. The first spell Willow ever used was a Gypsy curse.

A show like this only suspends disbelief as long as it remains true to the laws of para-science that it builds for itself. And Buffy doesn't.

I think it's done a pretty good job staying consistent. In the laws of para-science the show has built for itself (including the Wicca angle, by the way), it's done pretty well.

The Wicca practiced on Buffy isn't the same as the Wicca practiced in real life. Again, I must reference the fact that real people don't shoot lightning from their hands. Almost everything on Buffy is based on traditional myths or religions or customs or whatever, but it's given a twist by the writers. Whether or not you agree with that, that's a different thing.
posted by billybunny at 8:54 AM on December 7, 2001


Yeah, what billybunny said...

There probably aren't any real vampires or slayers either. And the writers really have done a good job of reconciling the formerly evil natures of Spike and Anya with their present personalities. We even had one two-parter crossover episode that explained Spike's human origins. Really, I would say they've gone to painstaking lengths to justify every significant shift in a character's outlook that we've ever seen.

The good guys don't kill Spike because they're the white hats...they couldn't in good conscience kill something harmless. To say that "it's not in the script" or in Marsters' contract is to forget that those scripts and contracts are presided over by the same people who imagined the emasculization of Spike to begin with. And if there's one show in the history of TV that has no qualms about suddenly killing off or otherwise removing regular characters, it's Buffy.

And about the wiccan/warlock stuff...Willow and Tara met at a college wicca meeting, where all the other girls were talking about bake sales, and only those two wanted to actually cast spells. One of the vanilla wiccas commented "Some stereotypes aren't helpful." Here we have yet another painstaking effort to maintain believablity and clarify the links, or lack thereof, between the show and reality.
posted by bingo at 9:36 AM on December 7, 2001


Anya is a demon

Anya started out human about 1100 years ago. she was elevated to demon and given power. she lost that power and is now human again. i would guess that regaining her humanity means that she also regained her, uh, humanity. she has a conscience.
posted by tolkhan at 11:44 AM on December 7, 2001


Right, bingo. To amplify for ZachsMind: Willow's a witch, not merely a wiccan. "Modern-day wicca" exists in BtVS, but as a silly diversion for college girls (now that's realistic!) — the UC-Sunnydale Wicca Club can worship the Goddess all they want but they won't be able to levitate a pencil much less raise the dead. And in the tradition that the show stipulates for real witches, male witches are called warlocks.

Except for Xander, who's a very powerful Manwitch. Hee hee.
posted by nicwolff at 10:25 AM on December 8, 2001


« Older Got your new Segway and looking for a place to try...  |  What would you do if you had a... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments