The One Where I Hop on My Soapbox About Racial Diversity… Sort of

In doing tonite’s Buffy Rewatch, this really got to me.  Not the lack of racial diversity in the episode (Inca Mummy Girl), but the idea that so many people cared so much.  Did I notice it before?  Of course.  Did I care?  Not really.  It doesn’t affect the show as it is or was.  It doesn’t affect how brilliant the writing is, nor does it affect how awful season four was.  But it is an idea that is present.

I do believe, however, that if we’re going to discuss the lack of racial diversity, we ought to be looking at the series as a whole, and not just individual episodes.

The idea of Sunnydale, California, allegedly, is that it is supposed to be a very diverse town, as California is a very diverse state.  (Here’s where I play devil’s advocate) Think about Sunnydale for a minute.  As the fictional town it is.  It’s on a hellmouth.  People have been moving out of Sunnydale at increasing rates.  Property values are going down.  Are you REALLY surprised more people don’t want to live there.  People die in Sunnydale.  And most people can’t explain why.  Would YOU want to move there just to prove that Sunnydale was diverse?

But other than that… the series as a whole has had a limited number of “colorful” characters.  Most of them played less than significant roles in one-off episodes and end up dead.  Does anyone remember the locker room in Welcome to the Hellmouth?  That isn’t a white girls screaming about the EXTREME DEAD GUY that just fell out of her locker.

Granted, she only had one episode.  Well, one scene in one episode.  And there’s a lot of characters like that.  One’s that try to be important or influential, or diverse, and they end up getting killed.

Then of course there’s our Islander Slayer, Kendra.  And don’t forget baddies Mr. Trick and Sweet.  And even more importantly, Robin Wood, the new principal of the NEW Sunnydale High, who probably had the most episodes.

But this was the 90’s.  I think if Buffy were done today, it would be a very different show.  I give the show quite a bit of credit for being as awesome as it was.  And to me, the lack of racial diversity, as it were, is not going to affect me either way.  Except maybe to get me to talk about it.

But I’m a purist.  I like my Buffy as it was, is and ever shall be.  I love the writing, and the characters and can’t imagine it being a different show with different people or different ideas.

Plus, it gives us all something to talk about.

Faith… starts with F

Oh, Faith, how I love thee, let me count the ways.

Faith is one of my all time favorite characters of the Buffyverse.  And it’s not because I absolutely adore Eliza Dushku, because I do.  It’s that Faith is the antithesis of Buffy.  I love Buffy as a character, but Faith is the darkside.  Anything you ever wondered if Buffy could or would do, Faith has already done it.

Faith isn’t supposed to exist with Buffy.  Buffy died.  The Kendra was called, thus beginning the two Slayer game.  Then Kendra died, and Faith enters into the picture.  Buffy and Faith never get along.  In the beginning, Faith tries dragging Buffy to the darkside by showing her how to party like a rockstar, and Buffy enjoys it until Faith takes it a step too far and kills a civilian.  Then Faith spirals and really turns evil.

She does eventually find redemption with the help of Angel, and reappears in Sunnydale when she finds out the First is trying to kill off and end the Slayer line.

As much as I love evil, season 3 Faith who is the hard partier and the anti-but-wannabe-Buffy, I love season 7 Faith so much more because she found redemption but STILL doesn’t get along with Buffy.  But they try, for the sake of humanity and their Slayerhood.  And they have such great chemistry – it’s like their sisters, “but with really different hair” (Cordelia, Season 2, Reptile Boy).

Some of my favorite Faith quotes:

Are you the bad Slayer now?  Am I the good Slayer now?

And this exchange kills me everytime because it tells everything.  It explains their whole story.  And it’s funny.

Faith:  Okay, the point. Me, by myself, all the time. I’m looking at you, everything you have and, I don’t know…  jealous. Then there I am, everybody’s looking to me, trusting me to lead them and I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life.

Buffy: Yeah.

Faith:  And that’s you everyday, isn’t it?

Buffy:   I love my friends. I’m very grateful for them. But that’s the price of being a Slayer.

Faith: There’s only supposed to be one. Maybe that’s why you and I can never get along. We’re not supposed to exist together.

Buffy:  Also, you went evil and were killing people.

Faith:  Good point.  Also a factor.

Buffy:  But you’re right. I mean, I guess everyone’s alone but being a Slayer? There’s a burden we can’t share.

Faith: And no one else can feel it. (beat) Thank god we’re hot chicks with superpowers.

Buffy:  Takes the edge off.

So, Faith.  Love her.

Dawn… starts with D

Probably an obvious choice for D… or maybe not.

Dawn started out being my least favorite character (along with Riley), but as she became more integrated with the group, the higher up my like list she got.

A few things about Dawn:

  • She was the Key.
  • She was inserted into Buffy‘s life/world by monks trying to save the world.
  • Glory was obsessed with finding the key so she could go home to her own dimension.
  • Dawn was ready to sacrifice herself to save the world – but Buffy did it first.
  • Once, she thought she was a potential Slayer, but promptly and nobly gave up the responsibility when the time was right.

Sure, Dawn was why and annoying at times, but she did get some redeeming qualities the more integrated she became.  In season 5, she was the obnoxious and annoying little sister, but season 6 saw a whole new Dawn.  She’d lost her mother, then her sister.  I think she did some growing up.  Of course, she had her moments of being the annoying little sister still.  But that had nearly totally disappeared by season 7, where she was becoming a pro Watcher-in-Training.

I promise, Dawn, I won’t hate you anymore.

Big Bads… start with B

Big Bads.  Villains.  Evil Nasties.  They go by so many names.  But they’re all just evil.  And magnificent.

Throughout the seven seasons of Buffy, there were lots of bad guys and vampires and annoyances, but there were really only seven Big Bads, which *I* classify to be the season long bad guy whose arc culminates in a big demonstration during the season finale.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the Big Bads by season:

The Master – Couldn’t get out of the Hellmouth until Buffy was dead.  But she was resuscitated, and killed him by dropping him through the ceiling of the library on a massive stake.

Angelus – After sleeping with Buffy, Angel lost his soul and turned into Angelus, the former big bad, evil vampire with an affinity for really REALLY hurting people.  Especially Buffy.  He almost destroyed the world with Acathala, but Buffy put a sword through him in the 11th hour, sending him to hell.  And her to LA.

Mayor Richard Wilkins III – Probably the funniest Big Bad, and huge germaphobe.  He’d been alive for 100 plus years and was finally about to reach immortality by becoming a true demon.  But his snakey self was vulnerable, and he blew up in the school.

Adam – Ugh.  Hate this guy.  Buffy used the essence of all her friends to pull out his power center and disintegrate it.  Then the gang dreamt about the first Slayer.

Glory – Evil hell-bitch with a split personality she shares with mortal named Ben.  After having found the key, Dawn, she tied opening a porthole to get her home to her own hell dimension, which would have destroyed the world.  Giles took her out by killing her mortal half, Ben.  Then Buffy sacrificed herself to save the world from being destroyed.

Evil Willow – Willow began to spiral in a drug/magic metaphor wherein her girlfriend Tara leaves her, and when they finally get back together, Tara dies at the hands of Warren.  Evil goes all black hair and kills Warren and begins more destruction, only to be saved by Xander and his yellow crayon speech.

The First Evil – The culmination of all the evil in the world, and alleges that it cannot be defeated.  It appears in various forms, including previous Big Bads, which makes the montage so awesome.  Buffy can’t defeat the First Evil per se, but destroys the Turok h’an that the First sends to destroy the world, and all the Slayers.  Spike helps in that destruction by wearing a trasnporty necklace that sends him to LA once the fight is over.

And there you have it.  Buffy Big Bads.  Love them or hate them, they make Buffy’s life more difficult, and certainly more interesting.

30 Days of Buffy Day 5: Least Favorite Female Character

I’m trying very hard not to say Kennedy, as I really found her unlikable, as does most of the Buffy-loving world, in my opinion.  I think I loved Tara so much for Willow, and Oz before that, that Kennedy seems like just another girl, not really the kind to involve yourself with forever.

Dawn was always a character I didn’t care for in season 5.  She was whiny and new, and that made her the outsider.  But then again, most new characters that come in have to go through some sort of hazing period before they became okay and acceptable.

There was Riley‘s new wife that showed up in “As You Were.”  She was the type that wanted to be accepted, felt like she knew everyone from Riley talking so much about them, but Buffy was almost obligated to dislike her.  No one knew where she came from just because Riley had been MIA for at least a year by then.

And then… there’s Kendra.  The first Slayer that was called after Buffy died the first time.  She was very by the books, and genuinely annoyed Buffy because she was very much a classic Slayer and much less a renegade.  Also, she had a horrible accent of unknown origin.

So, out of the four women I disliked, unfortunately, I’m going to have to go with my original instinct and choose Kennedy.  Not only was she not Tara, which was the reason for her character, but she was just very forward and obnoxious and bratty.

I don’t know if it was the character or the way the actor played the character, but I just could not stand her.  Even after I’ve seen the series several times through, I just can’t bring myself to like her.

I think Kennedy takes Willow to new, open places, which, I’ll admit, is good for Willow.  Life does go on, and there are people out there who are open and ready to take you to new places.

But I still don’t like Kennedy.

Sorry Kennedy.

30 Days of Buffy Day 4: Favorite Female Character

With a show like Buffy that is centered around strong female characters, it’s hard to pick just one as my favorite.  Buffy is the center.  Willow, Anya, Cordelia.  All amazing women.  Even Joyce, Tara and Dawn have some pretty amazing moments.

However, I will say that my favorite female character is Faith.  She’s the anti-Slayer and Buffy’s polar opposite.  They never got along and were never going to, and Faith knew it.

There’s only supposed to be one.  Maybe that’s why you and I can never get along.  We’re not supposed to exist together.

Her dance between good and evil is one for the books.  She constantly struggles to find her identity and her place in the world, but does she ever really find it?  She goes from Buffy to Angel and her journey is never ending.

And she has some pretty great lines.

You’re the bad slayer now?  I’m the good slayer now?

You need to brush up on your Buffy and Faith history.

So, Faith is definitely my favorite female character.  However, some others deserve honorable mentions:

  • Willow, for being so witty and smart and the girl next door.
  • Anya for not having a filter and just saying whatever she thinks.
  • Joyce for being the overall mother figure and being so strong in the face of such interesting circumstances
  • Cordelia for being about saying what she’s thinking and eventually becoming a more amazing hero than anyone thought.