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.

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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.

1×01 Welcome to the Hellmouth

After being kicked out of her previous school for burning down the gym, Buffy Summers arrives in Sunnydale, only to discover that the high school is built on a hellmouth and she must resume her duties as a Vampire Slayer.

Original air date: March 10, 1997
Written/directed by: Joss Whedon
Guest Stars: Brian Thompson, Eric Balfour, Julie Benz, J. Patrick Lawlor, Natalie Stauss

Standout Character: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Cordelia… we meet them all.

Quotes: You mean there’s actually someone in this town who doesn’t know already? Whew, that’s a relief, I’m telling you! Having a secret identity in this town is a job of work.  (Buffy)

Theme: Buffy wants to be a normal girl.

Foreshadowy Goodness: Luke says, “blood of man will flow as wine” at the harvest, which actually happens when the Master takes over Sunnydale in “The Wish.”

Buffy denying her Slayerness:

This is a constant battle throughout the entire series – watching Buffy deny her Slayerhood over and over.  In the pilot, she has just moved to Sunnydale in an attempt to start fresh.  She thought she left her old life behind her, until a dead body shows up in the locker room.  What I love about the constant denial of her calling is that when it all comes down to it, she still fights the good fight.  She still does what she needs to do.  She still saves the world.

She is constantly trying to be normal, which is a common theme throughout the series, but what I think she doesn’t see is that when she does accept her calling she has a better chance of being normal.  At least then she doesn’t become clumsy and lazy with keeping her identity a secret and she can save the world AND have a normal life.  Maybe.

30 Days of Buffy Day 1: Favorite Season

Unequivocally and without hesitation, the third season is my favorite season of Buffy.  After a great second season with lots of Spike, season three really solidifies the series for me.  And there are such great characters and episodes.

Faith is new to Sunnydale in season three, and immediately is the anti-Buffy.  The friction between Buffy and her new, soon-to-be evil counterpart is great to watch.  Seeing Buffy watch and try to experience the life she could have had creates more depth in her character and brings Faith to the forefront, setting her up for some great episodes to come.

Oz is also one of the great characters of season three.  He appeared in a few episodes of S2, but he really became a Scooby once he really started dating Willow and coming into his own werewolfiness.

Mayor Richard Wilkins III.  What more can I say about this Big Bad?  Once the seedy underbelly of Sunnydale revealed that the Mayor was more than just the Mayor, it created a whole new game for the Scoobies.

Other than characters, there are some great episodes.  Band Candy, The Prom, Graduation Day and Dopplegangland come to mind.

Also, in my mind, season four was transitional, therefore season three was the last of the stability the Scoobies will have ever had.