So I have a few Christmas traditions; I’ll read a fantasy novel (last year I read the Harry Potter series… Again, this year it’s the His Dark Materialstrilogy), I’ll buy a bottle of red wine and watch the Doctor Who Christmas special and, starting on Halloween, running through to the New Year, I”ll watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer (although I cheated this year by starting with season two… For Spike shaped reasons) normally trying to get the Once More With Feeling episode to land around the 20th of December. Puts me in a right good mood, it does.
Anyway, there was always one thing that annoyed me about Buffy though and that’s Amber Benson. Wait! Don’t go anywhere, I think she and her character, Tara, are wonderful and that’s the point: I think she’s so good I can’t quite understand why she was never put into opening title sequence. I mean, it’s not like she isn’t important or a small, sidelined character; I have no hesitation in saying she had a bigger impact on the show than Seth Green’s Oz (who was in the opening title sequence). I just watched the incredible The Body episode again, which is probably the furthest the show ever got from genre television (Glory is put entirely to one side and, besides the very well placed single vampire, has no supernatural elements to it at all) and forces the cast to act (like with emotions and whatever) without distraction and I always feel like she really comes into her own in that regard. The scene with Buffy and Tara sat alone in the hospital waiting room turns from what first looks like a look-these-two-characters-barely-know-each-other scene to a touching and revealing moment that spurs the rest of the episode and her and Willow’s relationship is given weight and honestly as Willow tries to pick the right outfit to support Buffy. Not to mention the on-screen kiss between them and the openess in which they talk about themselves as a couple (I really think, apart from the moment where they openly call each other girlfriends to the Watcher’s council interview, this is the moment where there is no more beating around the fucking bush in regards to their relationship. After this point, they, or more importantly, the show, is 100% out about them).
Season five is obviously full of brilliant characters (It always reminds me that season six and seven might not have been, the whole season treats itself as the final one) and its when the Scooby gang is at its largest (bar season seven and the slayer craziness) and I can understand that a title sequence can’t go on forever but I can’t help but feel like there is a tension between who is in the title sequence and who isn’t. Why is Anya in the sequence and not Tara? By not having Benson appear alongside Anya and Xander seems to me an indication that her and Willow’s relationship is not as important as the, heterosexual pairing of Xander and Anya. Now, I don’t think Joss Whedon was making a statement by not having her there, but I feel it was just plain stupid not to do it, as the implication just makes me feel a little off about Tara’s treatment by the show.
And of course that’s the biggest injustice about Tara, and the biggest difference between her and Anya. Tara seems to be used a plot tool far too often; not only as a metaphor for Willow’s magical power, but as her driving force (the Glory induced madness and her death, being the obvious stand out moments). Anya is given a character arc and things to do, where as Tara is just there for Willow. It gets to a point where Tara is rarely seen using magic anymore. Of course there is the lesbian demon metaphor/backstory that we see played out, but this is introduced, resolved and forgotten about in one episode (ugh, and is it just me, or does that whole episode seem really lazy? (also: ha! Amy Adams!)) when it should have been the episode that put her into the fucking opening title sequence.
I have no problem with Anya, like I said, she had a full arc that brings her from the misanthropic vengeance demon to a loving human (and then back again) that I always enjoy seeing played out (and Emma Caulfield is so good at just being funny!) but Joss Whedon has such a problem with killing off characters (Spike comes back, Angel comes back, Faith comes back, and, obviously, Buffy comes back), like a comic book, he always leaves them open for future development and stories except for Tara. She gets to die out right. Oz gets to piss off and be a werewolf and then come back (he pops up in Angel too) but Tara can just be a plot point to push Willow into becoming evil Willow. All done. No need for development there.
Was there a reason to why she wasn’t in the sequence? Is there an interview somewhere where Whedon or someone explains why? I’m probably just over thinking it, but it genuinely bothers me. I can’t quite remember who, after Giles leaves, they replace him with in the sequence? I just remember it isn’t Benson… Unless next week I double check and I’m wrong in which case this whole post is moot and you can ignore me.