While more LGBTQ characters are part of genre television shows today, it definitely wasn’t always that way.
One of the pioneers in this area was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which outed Buffy’s best friend Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) as gay in 1999 when she entered into a long term relationship with fellow witch Tara, played by Amber Benson. This positive portrayal came to an abrupt and shocking end when Tara was murdered by a stray bullet in season six, leading her girlfriend Willow on a dark downward spiral of magical destruction.
Sixteen years later, Buffy co-producer and writer Marti Noxon, who is currently working on the AMC series Dietland, has voiced some regrets about killing Tara and ending one of TV’s most pioneering lesbian relationships in tragedy. Speaking with Vulture, Noxon said “I think that killing Tara was – in retrospect, of all the people, did she have to die?” She also laments some of the darker choices she brought forth with Buffy herself, saying “There were parts of season six where I feel we went too far.”
Season six was divisive with many fans angry over the darker tone. Nevertheless, from a storytelling standpoint, it all still plays out perfectly, at least for this Buffy superfan. For Willow to lose control and go full villain, she had to lose something that meant everything to her, and that was Tara. It wouldn’t have been enough for Tara to get injured, because she was gravely injured by the goddess Glory in season five, and Willow didn’t lose control. The question then becomes “do you give in to what the story calls for, or do you keep that relationship because it makes the viewers feel validated?” And there’s no easy answer.
Interestingly, it seems creator Joss Whedon did have regrets over killing off Tara as soon as the next season. He planned an episode in which Buffy, after having undergone some kind of mystical trial, would have just one life altering wish of hers granted. She would then spend much of the episode considering a number of options, like restoring Angel’s soul, etc., until she decided to bring Tara back to life on the anniversary of her death. Unfortunately, Amber Benson wasn’t available for filming, so those plans were scrapped. While fans would have been elated, it might not have made sense for Buffy of all people to do this. After her trauma of returning from heaven, would she inflict that same pain on a good friend?
How do you feel all these years later about this storyline? Be sure to chime in below in the comments.
Images: Twentieth Century Fox