Buffy Newbie – Journal 5

February 16, 2013

Season 3

So good. Really. So good.

I feel like this season was darker, although I probably say that every season. There are several strong ‘coming of age’ themes, people losing their virginity, cheating, break-ups, surviving high school, driving, seeing their parents mess up*, making big decisions and being unselfish.

Season three continues to tackle common teen issues but with mature behaviour by the characters. I am of course, talking about Angel and his decision to leave Sunnydale so that Buffy can lead a ‘normal’ life. Which is funny, because she is the slayer and I’m not sure how normal her life will ever be.

Part of me respected his sacrifice, that he loved her enough to leave her so she could live a life unencumbered by his condition of being dead and any physical happiness resulting in him becoming a demon again. But on the other hand it made me mad, because, well, they seemed good together and I wanted them to end up happy together. And also, she is the SLAYER, any person she ends up with has got to be able to hold their own in a fight. Angel seems to be pretty bad-ass, so to me, that’s a good match.

In the end I suppose his new spin-off show was the final straw.

(But Angel is dead, I hear you say.) Yes, technically he has been dead in every season but he was in hell for a spell. Turns out some really evil-folk resurrected him, hoping they could get him to kill Buffy.

And their chosen method was quite interesting. And when I say interesting, I mean disturbing. They haunt him with the faces of the people he has killed in the past and suggest that he just ‘gives in’ and ‘takes’ Buffy, he can lose his soul and be free of all his guilt. Angel decides that the best way to resist is to kill himself. Buffy talks him out of it though. At first I thought it was cheesy, Angel choosing suicide. And then it clicked that they were actually talking about suicide. A hugely important, and at that stage, still under represented issue for teens.

I like that they choose Angel, arguably the most indestructible one of all of them, to deal with the important and hard to discuss topic of suicide. It was not the first time we see Angel’s character show an emotional range which I think was, and probably still is unusual for main male characters.

The inclusion of Faith as an alter-slayer-ego is brilliant, she lives life with abandon and affords herself all the little and not-so-little treats in life that Buffy doesn’t. Her character develops more darkly over time and helps us explore choices than Buffy can’t make, the writers not wanting to risk the affection the audience has for Buffy. In fact this season has a great series of interviews with the writers which summarises and analyses much better than I can.

 

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. The season is great, but there is something that’s been bothering me and that is the way Buffy and Angel are punished for wanting to have sex.

They are literally tormented by it.

There are some cool things about how they don’t have sex, which to me implies that they have a bond based on interest and mutual respect.

Interestingly both Zander and Willow have sex in this series and they aren’t punished for it. There are apparently no evil consequences when Willow sleeps with a werewolf.

But Buffy can’t have sex with the man/vampire dude that she loves. As the heroine, I suppose, she must remain pure, so that the audience will continue to hold her to higher standards. She is unfailingly virtuous and even when tempted down a darker path by Faith, she resists. The TV formula requires that we place her on a pedestal. It assumes that we can’t handle a multidimensional character.

In the end, this issue is not that the writers didn’t want their characters to have sex, because they do, Willow and Zander get laid. The issue is that the fact that the audience can’t be trusted to continue to love and relate to a young woman who has consenting sex with her boyfriend. Which is just ironic, considering the audience can be trusted to watch a main character who stabs vampires through the heart, fights to the death, sneaks out of her home, skips out on school and consorts with witches. But apparently, sex, was just one crazy act too far. Such is our society.

I wish the show had been brave enough to show a strong woman have sex and not lose any of her status in our eyes.

Because there is nothing wrong with having sex. And liking it. And wanting more.

While I think this show has pushed many boundaries, I guess it wasn’t ready for that one.

 

* the episode where all the adults act like teenagers is gold. especially Giles sporting the James Dean look.

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