Sonia Collazo’s criticisms of lesbian relationships on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (Calendar Letters, May 18) indicate a narrowly focused understanding of the series. Collazo is right to underscore the show’s efforts to portray a loving, normal relationship between series regular Willow and her girlfriend, Tara. But Collazo does her cause a disservice in reacting in knee-jerk fashion to the killing of Tara last season “after sex.” The poignancy of the sex scene only underscored the meaninglessness and randomness of Tara’s death a few moments later.
As far as this season goes, none of the main characters has had a meaningful sexual relationship. Why single out sex without love between Willow and Kennedy when you could equally point to Xander and Anya’s one-last-time fling? Why suggest that the lesbian sex was a straight-male fantasy and not refer to Xander’s pillow-fighting half-naked girls, a much clearer stereotype? (And a self-conscious one, also played for laughs.)
The writers of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” rarely make predictable or facile choices and are to be commended for integrating the lesbian relationships into the themes and plots of the series as a whole.
I agree with Collazo 100%. The fact is that Joss Whedon, intentionally or not, put an ugly stereotype on the screen. A young woman and her lover (also a woman) reconcile, spend the next few scenes in bed and then one is murdered and the other goes on a rampage. This is a cliche of the worst order. What makes this even worse is that the writers were aware of the cliche long before the episode aired. They even talked about it in public forums and in magazines.
Doug Petrie said in the magazine Sci-Fi Universe (Feb. 21, 2000): “Willow and Tara are going to have a good, happy, satisfying relationship. That’s something that we’re more acutely aware of and we definitely don’t want to touch on ‘being a lesbian is bad.’ We’ve all seen shows where if you have any kind of gay tendencies, you must be killed or made to suffer for no reason other than you’re gay. We’re ... more predisposed to have things work out for Willow and Tara.”
And Steven DeKnight: “If I had my way, would Tara have died? Of course not. It was a beautiful relationship and I was sorry to see it end in such a violent, tragic manner.” (Bronze: Beta, an online independent posting board, Oct. 13, 2002).