“…No one ever dies and… everybody lives happily ever after.” “Liar.”
I feel like I’ve just been punched in the stomach.
notice for me that it is the ladies of the show dealing with this. How many shows actually give their ladies the strength to face these things? Especially drug addiction- holy crap, I never see women in a drug addiction storyline, and that’s pretty sad. Also notice for me that it’s woman-woman relationships that ultimately help these people pull themselves out of their darkest places. No white knights need apply, it’s Buffy and Dawn’s sister relationship, Tara and Willow’s romantic relationship, Buffy and Willow’s friendship, that help them all through their stuff.
I’m sorry I’m a sucker for fantasy/scifi that actually deals with real world problems, and doesn’t always rely on a magical solution.
Not only does Buffy not always rely on a magical solution—aside from the death of Buffy herself, when something huge actually happens, there’s never a magical solution.
- Tara’s history is dealt with by her friends, her new family, who close ranks around her because she is their friend and you will not hurt her.
- Willow’s addiction is only managed through the repeated intervention of her closest friends and months of rehabilitation.
- Buffy’s depression, if it can ever be said to be cured or managed, is only managed through the efforts of those around her to let her know she’s still needed.
- Faith’s self-hatred (and Angel’s, and Spike’s) is valid. They have all done terrible things. And the only way for them to move on from that is by trying as hard as they possibly can to make amends by being better people.
- Dawn’s self-injury and other behaviours aren’t the result of a spell or a demon. They’re the result of someone living in a family and a world where she doesn’t get attention, where she’s constantly made to believe that she can never be as good as her sister. The resolution? For her friends and family to step up and let her know that she really is important.
- Joyce’s death is a death. The characters deal with it like actual humans do—which in some cases means not dealing with it. There’s a reason The Body is the single most difficult episode of Buffy to watch: someone actually died. And she stays dead.
While massive world-threatening events go on in the background, the threats that the main characters actually deal with include real issues like sexual assault, bullying, coming out, betrayal, loss of faith, and living in a world that doesn’t want to admit you exist.
I’m trying to think of a non-fantasy, non-Joss Whedon show that deals so seriously with so many real issues in a way that’s friendly to young people, and I just can’t come up with any. The West Wing almost gets there, but it’s not really all that accessible to the middle school crowd.
Firefly was perhaps the best show ever to air on television. Buffy was one of the most important.
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