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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

The Strange And Incredible Saga Of Willow and Tara On "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - Part 4

Erick R. Voshel

Wednesday 23 August 2006, by Webmaster

An Editorial by Erick R. Voshel - Part 4/4

Next consider this excerpt from Joss Whedon’s interview with The Stanford Daily on May 16, 2003 in which Whedon discussed why he still felt Tara’s death had been the right decision. Int: How do you feel when an episode gets fans really mad, i.e. killing Tara (whose romance with Willow was one of the most sympathetic portrayals of a homosexual relationship on television) in the episode “Seeing Red”? JW: Obviously, I’m not out there to make people angry. But if they feel passionately about the show, they’re going to be angry once and a while. If they don’t get angry I get worried. About Tara’s death, it was and is very controversial, but I stand by it. I do understand a little better now about why people were so upset, and I regret that it hurt some people the way it did. Int: You’ve said before that you give audiences what they need and not what want. What did you mean by that? JW: What I mean, and I got a little shit for saying that after Tara’s death—fans thought it was demeaning, but it’s not; I am a fan, I watch the show every week to see what will happen---but the fact of the matter is, no one wants to see them die happily married. Everybody feels terrible for them, wishes they could get away, but if they did, people wouldn’t remember the damn play as much... I think people need two kinds of fulfillment—one in which you give and one in which you hold back. Part of fulfillment is need, is longing, is being unfulfilled, that’s the nature of tragedy and a lot of drama. Very often, what the fans want, they get, but very often, what they want, they cant quite have, because we want them to feel the way our characters felt, we want them to feel what Willow felt after Tara died. Some people will never forgive me for making that statement, but I’m not saying I know better, I’m saying that the narrative exists beyond me.” So while it is nice to hear Joss finally acknowledge that he understands now why Tara’s death hurt so many people, and even admits to feeling at least some regret over the fact that this issue had such a negative impact on people as well, it is disappointing that he still stands by the decision to do it. Whedon still even insists at the end of the interview that the “narrative” required him to kill Tara. And yet, Joss Whedon still can’t seem to justify to people the amount of social harm and emotional pain his decision to kill Tara has caused. So, once again, we have just yet another example of Mutant Enemy’s self-interest coming first.

Next consider these following excerpts from the interview that Amber Benson had given in the November, 2003 issue of Curve Magazine in which she had been addressing the reasons for not coming back to the show, as well as the accusation that Joss Whedon had made over the summer that he had always planned a “glorious” romantic Willow/Tara reunion on a future episode of Buffy, but that Benson played the spolier. In the words of Curve magazine, “You can almost hear her wince over the phone:: “Yeah, that been bandied about in the press a lot,” she sighs. “You know, sometimes people tell you one thing in this world, and then things don’t turn out the way you’re told, “she said. “Who knows what Joss had 100 percent planned in his mind? I’m not psychic. I just didn’t want anyone else hurt after everything that happened. When a character has that kind of social impact, you just don’t have the right to do anything else to her. I know Joss had good intentions, but for me personally and professionaly, it wasn’t the right decision.” When the Interviewer had asked Benson about whether she thought killing Tara was the right decision or not this was her response: “What I feel and what they choose are not the same thing, but... I wish they hadn’t killed her.” Curve Magazine then goes on to talk about the fact of how Benson was asked to return as an evil version of Tara. But after encountering all the uproar from fans, she thought it was best to let her beloved lesbian character rest in peace. “There were a lot of other reasons I didn’t go back,” Benson said, but one was that I didn’t want Tara to go bad. As an actor, of course, it appeals to me to play kind of evil and bitchy and sexy, but as a human being who gets letters that say, ‘I didn’t kill myself because of what you and Alyson did, ‘that part of me goes, ‘You’re not just an actor anymore; you’re making a social commentary now, baby. You’ve got to be responsible.’ And I couldn’t be responsible coming back, because as an actor you have no control.” (It is important to note that when a fan had the chance to thank Benson for not playing “bad Tara” during her apperance at the FedCon in Germany last year, Amber had revealed to this fan upfront, while conducting an autograph session that she didn’t feel like she could be sure that everything would turn out OK, and that if she had signed a contract she would have been obliged to play whatever was presented to her.) Curve Magazine also talks about how Amber Benson took her responsibility as a lesbian role model very seriously and how it put her at the forefront of the fan fallout after Tara‘s death. A frequent guest at numerous Buffy conventions, she experienced first hand what Tara had meant to the gay community and how much her death hurt. “It’s so sad that on the one hand, you say, ’Oh, it’s just a TV show, ’yet on the other hand, it had a horrible impact on people, “Benson comments . “You hate that it can be negative and hurt people.”

Curve Magazine also points out to Benson at one point in the interview that following her departure, Buffy’s ratings dropped an average of15 percent. “Really?” Benson responded in surprise when the Interviewer had mentioned that fact to her. Benson herself seems to amplify this point further by recalling how that, “You had people who posted on the Internet saying, ‘Thank God, Tara’s dead!” But then this plethora of people going, ’Oh, my God I’m never watching the show again!” The interview goes on to make a refference to Joss Whedon’s comment during his July 26, 2002 interview with Wanda on E! Online in which he claimed that he “didn’t care” about the issues that he had introduced with Tara and that he “didn’t care” about the one he introduced when he killed her. However, as Curve Magazine would point out, “ It wasn’t so simple for Benson. “Joss wasn’t Tara, “ she explains. “He didn’t walk in her shoes.” Curve Magazine would go on to condemn the decision to kill Tara in this way by stating that, “For nearly three years, Benson played shy, kindhearted Tara to Alyson Hannigan’s adorable geeky Willow on Buffy. The couple’s romance was a favorite with both fans and critics, hailed for being the longest—running lesbian relationship in television history. But when Tara was shot through the heart moments after makeup sex with Willow, it sparked the biggest backlash in the show’s history. What Buffy creator Joss Whedon thought would play like a heartbreaking lover’s tragedy instead played like like a lost clip from The Celluloid Closet. Outraged viewers sent thousands of protest letters to the show and lit up the Web with fierce debates about Hollywood ‘s treatment of gay characters.”

My final example is a statement that Amber had made during the Q&A at Madame Tussauds in the UK in December of 2002: “I wish we could have worked something out,” Benson said. But there were extenuating circumstances that I don’t want to get into. I would have loved to come back but sometimes there are things you have to stand up for and to tell you the God’s honest truth. I really didn’t want Tara to be bad, and that would have been a component of me coming back. As much as I wanted to come back—and I almost did—that was something that was dogging my not wanting to come back. I just felt like people really loved that character and for her to be bad would just destroy people. So that was one of the main reasons I didn’t go back.” So we can cleary see that Joss Whedon did intend to bring Tara back from the dead, (although that is now believed to have been merly a cover story concocted by Joss in order to protect himself from the constant criticism he was getting for killing Tara in the first place.) but further information supplied by Amber Benson reveals that she felt like she just simply couldn’t trust Joss enough with the storyline that everything would turn out for the best in the end after hurting so many people before. Benson also has testified to the fact that Whedon wanted to play a cruel joke on the fans by having her return as an evil version of Tara, but had made (in my opinion) the right decision by not coming back to avoid hurting the fans. However, if you look back closely at Joss Whedon’s interview from back on June 23, 2003, with FilmForce about how he makes a case for having a Willow/Tara reunion and why Amber didn’t want to do it he curiously makes no mention of “the evil Tara” issues that Benson was having, nor does he mention the fact that she couldn’t trust him not to mess around with the storyline at the last minute in the first place. Joss just simply states in the interview that, “Amber didn’t want to do it. She wanted to do other things.” (You could argue that this statement was a form of damage control.) Joss also gives an indication in his statement to TV Guide Online in 2002 about the fact that contract negations had fallen through between Benson and the studio. Whedon even remarks how sad it is that Benson was not returning to the show because he liked Amber, but that it was a matter between Benson and 20th Century Fox. Even a repersenitive for Amber Benson testifies to this fact by saying, “She’s very proud of her work on the show, but ultimately couldn’t work out the right deal” But I have been able to establish that there was much more going on here than meets the eye. I have been able to point out that both Joss Whedon and Amber’s repersenitive were not telling the public the whole story about the actual circumstances involving the true nature regarding Amber Benson’s refusal to return to Buffy.

What impressed me the most was that Benson had actually stood up for herself when Whedon had asked her to do something that she didn’t feel comfortable doing for once instead of merely letting herself get backed into another corner like last time. It demonstrates to me that she is someone who truly cares about her fans and how she is a stalwart professional with tremendous heart and soul. Joss Whedon on the other hand, has demonstrated to me many times how he expresses little more than self—interest and cares nothing for his fans. He is willing to do anything to get ahead and is willing to even lie and cheat both his fans and the public in order to accomplish his goals. As of now, I have lost all my respect for this man. I will not watch his movies or any of his new programs, nor will I buy his merchandise. Why give my money to a man who doesn’t seem to value honesty, or care about other people’s opinions except his own, and seems to only view his fans as nothing more than play-things to be manipulated and lied to? Joss Whedon was giving people the impession that he had actually cared about this storyline when in fact it has been proven that he didn’t care at all to begin with. In fact, I find it disappointing when I consider the fact that such a sweet, kind—hearted person like Amber Benson had been used only as a means to an end. In other words, Joss was willing to promote Amber as long as she served his own self- interests, but once those self—interests had gone elsewhere, Whedon untimely decided that it was in his best interest to cut her loose. In other words, Whedon simply didn’t need Amber anymore. She had served her purpose in the story and was, therefore no longer relavent to the show. This is confirmed by the fact that Tara is scarcely mentioned in Season Seven at all, plus the undeniable fact that Willow gets a brand-new girlfriend almost immediately following Tara’s death; To make matters worse , we never really see Willow go through a grieving process for Tara except for the episode “The Killer In Me “ in which she “falls in love“ with Kennedy and learns “to get over Tara.” We never see a funeral service for the character either. All we get to see of Tara in Season Seven is a brief shot of her gravestone. That’s it.

In closing, I would like to say that I felt compeled to write this report because I am deeply disturbed by all the negativity in the media today. This was an issue that was very dear to my heart. When I first realized that Willow and Tara were going to be a couple, I was thrilled at the prospect of having all the injustices that have been done to both gay and lesbian characters on both TV and in the movies at last being wiped away. Even though, I myself am not gay, I recognized how special and rare actually having this sort of relationship being portrayed on television in such a tasteful, realistic, and sensitive manner really was. For once , we saw on Buffy, that gays and lesbians were and could be happy, healthy, caring, and loving human beings who could also have a safe, happy, and secure relationship at the same time. What I had also loved about the Willow/Tara relationship was that you saw a genuine love story develop between these two people. It wasn’t done for exploitation or for the purpose of seeing heavy, sweaty sex all the time. Here were two people declaring their love for one another for the whole world to see and they didn’t care one way or another what people thought. Joss Whedon opened a door for gay characters alright, but then he decided to slam that door shut again out of pride for “the imagined self—importance of his own ego” as in the words of Robert Black again. Robert Black writes in his essay “The Executive producer’s New Clothes” about how, “Mutant Enemy set themselves up as sympathetic figures in the eyes of viewers who believe in the cause of gay rights. You could even say that they set themselves up as champions of that cause. And when they took back everything they had said before, they left those viewers feeling betrayed.” Black then goes on to write, “Social change never starts out as the majority viewpoint. Most often start when people have the courage to stand up and say, “I know this idea is popular, but I think it’s wrong.” With Willow and Tara, Mutant Enemy seemed to be saying that very same thing about the way our society tries to render gay people, and especially gay couples, invisible—but then they took it all back. I’m not trying to suggest that anyone at Mutant Enemy ever intended to be a social crusader along the lines of Harriet Beecher Stowe or Rachel Carson, but their words and actions certainly indicated that they at least cared a little about their gay viewers. Black then raises two important questions: If Mutant Enemy thought depicting a realistic same—sex relationship was important, why did they destroy the one they had? And if they didn’t think the inclusion of homosexuals was important, why did they spend over two years telling everyone that it was?” The bottom line is that Joss Whedon let his pride get in the way of doing what was morally and socially right. In other words, Joss was making promises to his viewers that in reality he had no intention of keeping. Whedon had made a public promise to the gay and lesbian community that everything would turn out okay for Willow and Tara, but in the end however, he effectively broke that promise. Robert Black also writes, “Joss Whedon, who says that he needs to give the fans what they need and not what they want, decided that the gay community needed to see what the hate—groups want, a lesbian killed by an act of violence, right in the middle of what was supposed to be a place of safety. Black then goes on to comment how, “All the public access programming on the airwaves couldn’t have dealt a harsher blow.”

Robert Black then cites the classic tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes as an excellent example to illustrate the way he feels about what had happened with Willow and Tara. You know the story, don’t you? he asks Two con men convince a vain emperor to buy a suit, made of a material so light and fine that people who are stupid or incompetent will think it’s invisible. They end up taking his money and selling him nothing, but when the emperor starts parading around in his non—existant new outfit, everyone is too afraid of being thought of as stupid or incompetent to point out that he’s actually walking around naked. Everyone, that is, except for one small boy who isn’t worried about being thought of as stupid or incompetent and therefore says exactly what he sees. That’s how Robert Black and I feel, “not just about Willow and Tara, but because of how Buffy would play itself out in the end. Emperor Joss had gotten himself a new suit—a suit wolven with threads that turned female empowerment into female dedragation, but where white men could walk away from their responsibilities (Xander) or become attempted rapists yet still be thought of as heroes (Spike). A suit that stitched sex and violence and glamorized the pairing, but where a healthy relationship between two women was sacrified on the alter of a plot twist that played itself out in all of two weeks. Perhaps some are reluctant to call Joss’s new suit what it is because they’ll no longer be thought of as “cool” or —as Ben Varkentine said at Ink19.com: “There’s a line in the second season where Xander says to Buffy, about Angel: “The way I see it is that you wanna forget all about Ms. Calendar’s murder so you can get your boyfriend back.’ The way I see it, some people want to ignore the horrible execution of Tara’s death and the way it fits into a larger patteren, so they don’t have to have their belief in Joss &Co shaken.”

So what did Mutant Enemy gain by insisting on their own creative freedom without regard for the responsibility that comes with that freedom? Black askes. What had they reaped from the seeds they sowed? Falling ratings, loss of trust, a segment of the fanbase which became so alienated because of what happened that it actively organized against the show, people with agendas they claimed to hate cheering them on, negative reviews and stories in the press, and a controversy that dragged on through nearly half the summer and had threatened to haunt the promotional efforts for the fall. And this was in addition to the fallout from several other elements of Buffy’s sixth season that had exhibited the same signs of irresponsible storytelling and lack of regard for consequences. Even the fact that the Buffy cast would openly make fun of the way Tara died demonstrates to me the fact of how no one was really considering the consequences of what they were doing before it was too late. Black then says that, “Joss and his team kept their creative freedom, but at the cost of their status as the darlings of many critics, and at the cost of their reputations with the fans. Sooner or later, that will likely translate into a cost at the financial bottom line as well So was it worth all that? Black then writes that, “Freedom and resposiabilty are inseperable. You can’t insist on one without the other. If you try, you may make a splash on the face of the world for a while, but sooner or later too many of those people you feel no responsibility toward will either be offended or bored by the things you give them. Why wouldn’t they be? You feel no responsibility toward them, so what chance do you have of connecting with them? When that happens, chances are they’ll stop giving you their money, and at that point, what are you left with? Nothing but a raging ball of resentment toward a world that doesn’t understand your “vision.” Robert Black also points out that, “A better way of way of doing business, a more responsible way, is a way that looks beyond the self and toward another. In the case of the writer, it means looking beyond yourself and toward the audience. Joss Whedon says he needs to give the fans “what they need”, but in order to do that a writer must make contact with the audience and establish a dialouge. It’s the only way you can find out exactly what they need. Does that mean you let the audience dictate your story? Of course not—that would be slanting in the opposite direction. Each of us who writes has a unique message to give to the world---but we can’t do that if we never bother looking to find the best way of delivering those messages. Without contact, without dialouge and without responsibility, we end up delivering our messages about as effectively as if we were standing on street corners, shouting them through Bull Horns.”

Robert Black points out that, “Gene Roddenbery once said there was quid pro quo in the writer/reader or writer/viewer relationship—the audience expects something in return for the time and attenton they’ve given the writer. Responsible writers reward the audience instead of punishing it. They give the audience enlightenment instead of darkness. Does that mean that their storylines must be full of sweetness and light? Of course not. The essence of drama is the principle of tension and release of moving from consonance to dissonance and then a new state of consonance. In other words, responsible writers can make their characters as miserable as they want as long as they remember to bring those characters back from it, too. Can Joss Whedon do it? Black askes. Can he run his business in a more responsible fashion? Of course there’s always hope—but after all that’s happened, Joss Whedon isn’t going to win back the trust of the fans with words alone. He’s been able to talk a good game before, saying all the right things about the Willow/Tara relationship while at the same time planning to tear it apart in the most vicious way possible. This time, Joss Whedon will have to follow up his words with deeds, not just once , but on a continuing basis. As fiercely as the controversy raged last time, it will be much worse if the fans are played for fools again. Can Joss Whedon do it? Can he run his TV shows and movies in a more responsible fashion? Or is he still so insistant on his own “vision” that he will continue to alienate his audience instead? The answeres to these important questions are completely up to him. And that’s how it should be.” The bottom line is that if you’re a writer, produer, director, or sometimes all three you have a moral, ethical, and social responsibilty toward both your viewers and society for the messasges you intentionally or unintentionally send. You can either help society or hurt it. And you have to learn how to deal with the consequences that those messages create regardless of whether they’re the messages you wanted to send or not . You can help move society forward or hold it back, as Robert Black would say. As Mr. Black and I have both said before: You can’t have freedom without responsibility. If you insist on the one without the other, you may make an impact on the world for a while, but if you feel no responsinilty toward your audience you will find yourself in a bind and sooner or later people will either get offended or bored by what you put out. They might even stop giving you their money. After all, why would they even bother? You feel no responsibity toward them so why should they feel any responsibility toward you? At some point both your fans and the public will stop respecting you and also stop giving you their attention. And then you are left feeling bitter and resentful toward a world that doesn’t understand your “vision” of how you think things are/should be. Joss Whedon fits this profile right down to the letter. In other words, Joss Whedon insisted on his creative freedom, but showed a total lack of regard for the consequences of sending messages that he had never wanted to send in the first place. For me as a person, honesty is the best policy. If you can’t be honest with the people around you, what’s the point in getting them to trust you? Building a relationship means you have to establish a bond of trust with your viewers, because without it that relationship falls apart. As a responsible writer, you have a duty to both yourself and your audience in trying to help society strive to become a better place.

So what does Tara’s death ultimately mean in the end? The lesbian Cliché FAQ states that what Tara’s death ultimately means is that,” The gay community has been hurt and misled...again. It means that perpetuating a tired, horribly clichéd storyline was ultimately more important to ME than keeping their word. That hurting Willow above all the other Scoobies was more important then being socially responsible. That killing Tara anywhere but in the bedroom thus downplaying the lesbian cliché, required too much effort and apparently would have meant giving up too many ratings points. That giving all the homophobes, Tara—haters and Amber—bashers (a segment ME supposedly holds in great distain) exactly what they’ve wanted since Tara first appeared was preferable to thinking a little harder and coming up with another story. It means that just like those old (and new) movies that ended without hope for gay characters, so ends this (sixth) season of BtVS. Mutant Enemy can say it could have happened to anyone in Sunnydale all it wants, but it didn’t. It happened to the lesbians...as freakin’ usual.” The lesbian Cliché FAQ also cites a study done by the Children Now “2001 Prime Time Diversity Report, “gay and lesbian characters make up less than 2 percent of all characters on television. Of that 2 percent, 92 percent are gay men, meaning that only 0.16 percent of all TV characters are lesbians. Actually that became 0.16 percent minus Tara when she was killed. The FAQ also points out that, “Tara attracted many fans that are marginalized in society because they are shy or gay or stuttered or all three. More than any character on the show, her fans were a sensitive, gentle group, who found solace in Tara and W/T that they could find no where else. For ME, through lies, to bolster false hope about the fate of a character that meant so much to people just so they could splatter her blood onto Willow’s shirt, was especially cruel This was not the death of any character. It was the death of a character that represented hope to thousands of people. Great care was required. Great insensitivity was shown. The FAQ even argues, “But finally—most people who are against the lesbian-cliché aren’t even really arguing that Tara can’t die! The argument is simply that she shouldn’t die in such a clichéd manner. If Tara had gotten to die at the end of a story arc that made her death meaningful and true to her character, there would be a lot of sad fans, but most of them would not be enraged the way we are now. But ME chose to have Tara shot randomly immediately after sex in a way that drives her lover insane and makes her evil. The FAQ also regards Mutant Enemy’s decision to include Amber Benson’s name in the credits in the very episode in which her character dies as a “mean and crass move.”

Before I close up this report I would like to say that I have now officaly met Amber Benson in person when I was at the SlayerCon at the Sheridan Hotel in Houston, Texas this April And I have to tell you, meeting her was not only an honor, but also proved to be intimidating at the same time. I remember walking into the photo room to get my picture taken with her, I remember just having this feeling of awe. I could hardly believe I was standing face to face with one of my favorite actors. As I took her hand, it had surprised me how frail she felt, yet she exhibited this abundant amount of energy. She always had a smile on her face and was always upbeat, despite having a tired look in her eyes. What equally surprised me was how tiny she was.

I ran into her at least five times at the convention. The first time I saw her was when I was waiting for James Marster’s concert to start. Benson came out of the hotel ballroom accompanied by a swarm of people. I don’t remember feeling so nerve racked in all my life. As Amber walked past us my stepfather Gary said, “Hi Amber.” She looked right at him and said, “Hi back; she immediately recognized though that Gary was not a fan and looked down at me (I was sitting down) and said, “Hi. The second time was the photo session. The third time was when I attended the Q&A in the Hotel Ballroom. I asked Amber if she’d be willing to reprise the role of Tara again and she was very open to that possibility. The fourth time was at the autograph session in the Ballroom. I remember that my stepfather had to pay $ 25 dollars to get Amber’s autograph , but in the end. It was worth it. She had signed the photo, “To Erick—Much love and kisses.” Benson also dropped a bombshell by telling me that she liked my question. (I now proudly display that photo I had taken with her on top of my TV.)

The fifth and final time I saw her was by freak luck while my parents and I were on our way out of the hotel to eat a late lunch/dinner. As we passed by the hotel restaurant, lo and behold there was Amber eating dinner with a man. She said hi to me and my stepfather told her that we had gone to the convention as a late birthday present for me. She wished me a happy birthday and asked me how old I was. I told Amber I was 25. She remarked that she was going to eat dinner and then go to bed because she was feeling very tired. She even refered to me as a “Buffy fanatic” but in a good way. She then said goodbye to me as we headed on out. It is nice to know that all my instincts about this amazing young woman were proven correct. Amber Benson has proven to me that she is a kind and warmhearted professional who genuinely cares about her fans. As a result, Amber has defienatly earned my respect as both an actress and as a human being. On the other hand, I have lost all my respect and admaration for Joss Whedon. He has not only cheated his fans and the public. (Amber Benson was also cheated as well in my opinion.) But most importantly, Whedon cheated himself out of the opportunity to continue making a difference in people’s lives with this groundbreaking new message, even though it was a message Joss had never wanted to send in the first place. In fact, Robert Black remarks in his essay “It‘s Not Homophobia, But That Doesn’t Make It Right” that, “ Through proper handling of the Willow/Tara storyline, Joss Whedon could have attained greatness as a pioneer and visionary in modern society, but instead he traded that in for the imagined self—importance of his own ego—and we have all been diminished because of it.” All I know is that if Joss Whedon wants to have my respect as a fan back, he will have to earn that respect by being more honest with people in the future about what his intentions truly are and needs to be more careful about the kinds of messages he sends in his stories and has to gain my trust back with deeds and not just words alone and that’s the way it should be. So, thus ends the Strange and Incredible Saga of Willow and Tara On Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.” Proverbs 29: 23

“I feel that you have a human obligation to your audience. You can respond to your heart but be aware of the message.” - Amber Benson

5 Forum messages

  • There are a couple of points that I think this article glossed over. All the main characters in Buffy had a relationship end with a break-up and a death. In fact, every single relationship in the entire Whedonverse has ended badly except for Willow/Kennedy (I guess if you want to get technical you could say Wood/Faith might count as well. Which is an interracial relationship).

    The line about Angel being biased because Cordelia and Fred (both women) died and Gunn (an African-American is mortally wounded) is ridiculous. Doyle and Wesley also died, with Wesley dying in the last episode and Gunn surviving (Gunn would probably dies in the last battle, but probably everyone would die there).

  • I have to agree withthe above poster. NOBODY had happy relationships for long. To make Willow and Tara be the only ones would be like reverse discrimination.

    I preferred Tara to most of the other (sorry) secondary characters, but I think Joss has the right to do with his narrative what he wanted. and face it, on his shows (Buffy, Angel, Firefly) once the character fulfilled the purpose of their plot arc, they were usually killed off.

  • While I must admit the essay is in clear need of revision and editing, I think the author still makes some quite valid points about the responsibility of a writer to his audience, about the harm that can befall as a result of bad storytelling decisions, about the mistake of creating a campaign of misinformation in regards to future storylines instead of simply making no comments at all.

    And I must admit that I was also quite concerned about the message conveyed in the final season of Angel when the decision was made to simply kill off its two lead female characters, creating a male dominated show with female characters of rather dubious "heroic" character like Illyria, Harmony, and Eve. And while it is true that many characters on both shows die dramatic, heroic deaths (like Doyle, Spike, Anya, Wesley), most of the female characters (Tara, Cordelia, Fred) die very unheroic deaths.

  • Yes, I agree that "killing off regular characters" is Joss’s trademark. I think evrything from at most Joyce on, perhaps from Jenny on, is largely (regardless of how woven into plot structure it is) driven by the kudos Dr. Joss and His ME Bunche got after thsoe epsiodes aried. It became ther all-purpose house-style way to make plot changes, and while the first couple times were caviar,a fter that they ebcame basically Alpo. In particualr Cordelia’s; instead of claiming she died (which I still don’tt ake seriously) having ehr go off on her own because the Powers have a new and separate-from-Angel mission for ehr would have been more litereary and far more creative than what was shown. But by this time, Joss had developed what amounted to a laxy habit and couldn’t stretch his mind far enough to do anyhting original with departing characters anymore.
  • Dear Mr Voshel,

    Joss Whedon et al had an obilgation to their fans overriding all others to keep the show interesting. Killing Tara was exciting and dramatic - I would like to think this does not make me homophobic, merely a fan of unexpected surprises in television programmes. Even before we enter the realms of your opinions I would like to point out that while it was suggested that Charles Gunn was indeed grievously wounded in the final episode of Angel, this is a common device in the Buffy Universe and it is not necessarily the case that he would really die.

    Furthermore, how can we ignore the fact Charles Gunn appeared in Angel for five seasons as a main character. This was oddly not considered in your article, perhaps on the grounds that it completely contradicts your supposed evidence that Black, Gay or Female Characters are treated unfairly. Plus, did Whedon et al only kill off 2 women and a Black man (arguably) in Angel’s fifth season? No, of course not, they also killed off Lindsay in the final episode (who admittedly you exempted from your "the white middle-class males must be spared" statement on the grounds he has committed evil acts) and series regular Wesley Wyndham-Pryce (who you again strangely overlooked), an upper-class well-developed ultimately kind-hearted Englishman.

    That’s right, the deathcount of key characters in Angel’s final season is arguably 3 males and 2 women. The men outnumbering the women and it’s even questionable if the Black man survived. De Knight was right all along, they killed characters when it served the script. You’re clearly an intelligent man so you should know this.