As I have previously mentioned, for a project that I am working on, I have to watch all seven seasons of Buffy. I have written a review for each season that I have watched thus far: one, two and three respectively. In previous seasons, the teen angst has certainly been an issue for me. I know that it is to be expected with a teenage protagonist; however, that does not mean that I have any real tolerance for it. With Buffy and the Scooby gang in college, and Angel across the country, the angst level finally began to tone down, and I began enjoying it somewhat.
From a social justice perspective, by far the most troubling episode that I have viewed to date was episode 8 of season four entitled Pangs. It begins with Willow quite matter of factly stating why she and her mother have a problem with celebrating Thanksgiving. All of the guilt however, is quickly overshadowed when the Chumash warrior Hus runs amok in Sunnydale — after their grave site is disturbed, because of an attempt to build a Cultural Center at UC Sunnydale. The Chumash warrior Hus rightfully want revenge for what was done to their people, but all Buffy can do is respond with White guilt and angst. When she finally gets her slayer on, they sit down at a table to have Thanksgiving dinner, thus proving that they didn’t learn a damn thing. Whedon made a point of having Willow explain why Thanksgiving is a problematic holiday at the beginning, but dismissing that, after once again letting the White people defeat the supposedly bad Native people, and then eat a meal in celebration, was disgusting to say the least.
After being unable to control himself around a female werewolf, Oz leaves Sunnydale. During his absence, we begin to see a budding romance between Willow and Tara. Of course, it is all rather chaste and other than some hand holding, the audience is left to assume there is more going on. If Whedon can film Buffy making out and having sex with both Angel and Riley, why is a kiss between Tara and Willow forbidden? It hardly feels progressive when straight characters are highly visible and LGBT characters are not. I know this was made in the 90’s, but I am not going to give it a pass on that basis. Whedon had a chance to be progressive and he blew it big time.