Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Twillow" Walking A Tightrope

Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has proven his fearlessness in pushing boundaries to surprising limits with regards to the television series' characters. Atypical depictions of characters that defy gender-related stereotypes have been welcome by the network, but the same can't be said for the limits set for the way the characters sexuality is shown.

When we first were introduced to Willow and Tara's relationship in "Family", it took me a few minutes to realize that they were in a romantic relationship (my initial thought was that they were sisters). For the entire episode, they displayed minimal amount of affection. I was pretty shocked that Tara and Willow didn't even kiss for the entire episode (even though there were several occasions where it would’ve been appropriate for them to do so). Whedon was tiptoeing around anything relating to homosexuality due to strict regulations made by the network. In an interview, Joss Whedon said "The network obviously has issues. They don't want any kissing--that's one thing they've stipulated--and they're a little nervous about it."

In this, Whedon has found it impossible to fully satisfy both the network and the fans of his television series. The unrealistically minimal affection Tara and Willow display has caused upset with the fans of the show. "You have people, the moment Tara appeared on the scene, saying, 'Why aren't they gay enough? They're not gay enough! You need to make them more gay.'" It just doesn’t make sense to display Tara and Willow’s relationship so conservatively when Xander often engages in casual sex with characters he doesn’t even like and Buffy has prolonged make-out sessions with her boyfriend.

Joss Whedon’s intentions were to empower Willow’s exploration of sexuality, but in this struggle to obey the network, his message doesn’t have nearly as much power as it should.


  1. I actually read an article about this that basically said the network didn't want to be too explicit about kissing and affection and stuff, but the point got across and the gay community was in general very receptive.

  2. It's interesting to see the differences between what the networks want between what different groups of people want. I can see why the network wouldn't want to have a gay relationship that is as obvious as the other relationships on the show, but as gay relationships become more and more accepted, I think the networks are going to have to start adjusting.

  3. I agree with Brittany, it's becoming much more accepted to have a gay couple on a TV show, even if it's just to boost ratings, so networks seem to be a lot less uptight about it nowadays. Joss definitely had a fine line to walk along with Willow and Tara though, because it's difficult to find the happy medium between the network's "too gay" and the fans' "not gay enough."

  4. I agree that Tara and Willow weren't "gay enough" on screen, but it's not like the series is filled with raunchy straight sex scenes. The most "sexual" scenes that I noticed in the series were when Angel was slowly taking off Buffy's shirt while examining her cut, when Xander and Anya were putting their clothes back on quickly while looking in the basement, and when Drusilla was seducing the human Spike in the 1880s. I agree, when I first saw Willow and Tara together in her room I had no idea they were lovers..Willow was wearing super conservative pajamas while holding her teddy! She could have at least been wearing something a little more skimpy..or would that have been too "gay"?


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