Why’d you have to go and do a thing like that, Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Over 15 years after one of the show’s most shocking deaths helped define the term “bury your gays,” showrunner Marti Noxon admits it was the wrong move.
In an interview with Vulture, Noxon was asked whether Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s feminism holds up in 2018 (it’s been over 20 years since the series debuted). Noxon said certain aspects of the series hold up better than others—the weakest being how dark our protagonist got in the sixth season, including Buffy’s destructive and abusive relationship with Spike. “There were parts of season six where I feel we went too far. We pushed into some categories that almost felt sadistic and that Buffy was volunteering for things that were beyond just ‘bad choices’ and were almost irresponsible for the character,” Noxon said.
However, she immediately added that it was a mistake to kill Willow’s girlfriend, Tara, played by Amber Benson (who Noxon hired). In the season six episode “Seeing Red,” worthless human Warren shot at Buffy, only to miss and hit Tara in the chest, killing her instantly. This death led Willow to fully embrace her dark powers and try to destroy the world. This death has been long criticized, by both Buffy fans and the LGBTQ community. It’s a prime example of a TV show killing off a gay character’s love interest for no reason other than a plot development that could be achieved in any number of ways.
“I think that killing Tara was—in retrospect, of all the people, did she have to die?” Noxon said.
Given how shows like Star Trek: Discovery have continued to bury their gays, it’s refreshing to see showrunners looking back on their work and seeing where the problem lies. And it comes on the heels of Steven Universe’s latest triumph, which recently pulled off a groundbreaking event for LGBTQ representation in animated television.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer may not hold up in some ways, especially when you look at controversial issues behind the scenes, but there’s always room to grow and learn from your mistakes.