Posted by: hellonhairylegs | August 20, 2008

Television and BTVS: Getting Square Eyes

-Spoilers for Season Four onwards-

I watched a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I was a wee Deviant Spawn so it was the natural choice when I was looking for something to watch while waiting for Doctor Who to come back. A few weeks later and I’m hooked. When the trials were on I would overflow with nervous energy, going over notes in my head so I used BTVS to idiot box myself to sleep.

I’ve watched most of the first four seasons and I have to say it isn’t the feminist icon it’s made out to be. Just because it isn’t as bad as most of the crap we get doesn’t make it feminist. It is probably as feminist you can be and still be popular, but there were a few key ingredients missing. Like someone on the credits who isn’t white, or a female mentor. The idea that all useful knowledge is handed down through books also annoyed me. Fuck destiny. I’ve also heard about the Spike/ Buffy thing and I just can’t see it at all. The idea of Spike as a wannabe rapist and a viable love interest pisses me off. On the other hand they haven’t been tacky about Willow and Tara so far, which deserves a cookie crumb (or twenty).

Other shows I’m going to watch between now and the next Doctor Who season will be BSG and Xena the Warrior Princess. I’m thinking about watching Angel if it isn’t a dude fest. Any recommendations?



  1. Firefly of course, but since you were talking about Inara in another post I’m guessing you’ve already watched it.

  2. Hey-

    I just found your blog and I like it. There should be more good feminist blogs. Hooray for you!

  3. Avoid Angel. It’s a dude fest – and the all pseudo-feminist points Buffy earns for not being that bad are completely missing in Angel. It’s best to pretend it doesn’t exist.

    I assume you’ve already seen the Sarah Jane adventures? I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy a show aimed at a younger audience, but it was really nice to see a women essentially step into the Doctor’s shoes.

    Firefly, Dead Like Me, Veronica Mars & Medium all have great female characters (there are some admittedly not great portrayals of women too – but like BTVS, the good outweighs the bad).

  4. whatsername, I’ve heard about Firefly but I haven’t watched it, I will rent a couple of DVDs and see how it goes.

    Thanks carrot 🙂

    Dracon, I’ll take your advice on Angel. I have seen the SJA, I love it! It is pretty much a photo negative of Torchwood.

    I haven’t seen Dead Like Me or Medium, I’ll check them out. I love Veronica Mars! Has many of the same problems that Buffy has but Veronica is just teh awesome!

  5. I definitely second the Sarah Jane Adventures– awesomely woman-centred, and every ep passes the Bechdel test with flying colours.

  6. I know. I was a bit iffy with Luke and the fufilled motherhood aspect of the first episode, but from there it has been really good.

  7. BSG would be the one I’d recommend. Nothing like perfect, but plenty to sink your teeth into.

    My one completely unexpected suggestion: Grey’s Anatomy. If only the title character and her men were excised, and it was the story of Yang, Bailey, Torres, and Hahn, it would be a big ol’ pile of awesome. Unfortunately, you just have to somehow overlook (or rage at) the whole MerDer drosssoap to get to the good bits with the supporting characters, so it just depends on your tolerance for that stuff.

    Sarah Connor Chronicles, perhaps?

  8. Thanks lauredhel. Science fiction is awesome. I watched the first two seasons of Greys Anatomy with Mother Dearest and Fellow Spawns and I agree with you. If it didn’t have Meredith and the dudes, the show would rock. It might be worth checking out Private Practice whenever that comes out.

  9. I think Angel actually turns out to not be a dude fest (you have to get there, though). I don’t see it as feminist, but as stylized noir action goodness goes, it gets a cookie.
    I agree with suggestions about Firefly. There’s a show called Tru Calling that I thought was pretty cool, but it was only on for 2 seasons. Then again, I’m biased due to my huge and fruitless crush on Eliza Dushku.

  10. Oh, no, Private Practice is really, really not worth watching, compared to GA. (Avoiding spoilers, but you might enjoy a subplot in the most recent few eps of GA more than the beginning couple of seasons, too).

    And GA passes the Bechdel – groups of women talking about surgery – which is always a plus.

    I don’t know if I’m the best person to advise you on TV, though; I’m also totally hooked on Big Love, mostly because I don’t see it as glorifying polygamy, but because I see it exploring the variety of effects that toxic polygamy has on the women characters, and the ways in which they resist it.

    I watch heaps of rageworthy rubbish, and try to find the snippets of good.

  11. Ok Lemur, I might give Angel a trial after all. I like film noir as long as it isn’t Blade “violence against women is sexy” Runner.

    Tru Calling, if it got axed and it has Eliza Dushku it must be good.

    So much TV, I might just survive until the next Doctor Who. The feminist blogosphere is awesome.

  12. By the way, since no one’s mentioned it– don’t forget Daria— best female-centred show ever. 🙂

  13. OMG Beppie- you’re so right! HOW could I have forgotten Daria! They don’t have it on DVD yet but you can get it on teh interwebz. Points for you, I love that show. ^__^

  14. Daria! OMFG, I totally forgot about that show. It is AWESOME. -evil chuckle and hand rubbing-

  15. Firefly also isn’t exactly feminist, but the quality of the storytelling is quite high.

    I like Medium a lot, mostly for the main character, but also for how her family interacts with each other.

    I’m fond of Joan of Arcadia, which can seem odd since I’m atheist and the premise is that God talks to Joan, but it works well because what God flings at her isn’t any more random or out there than what teenage girls have to deal with anyway. God just makes a handy machine for for firing odd crap at her.

    Grim (because it’s a crime drama), but my favorite tv series right now is Prime Suspect. I’m fairly high up in a male dominated field and still rising, and the protagonist of Prime Suspect was the first tv character that was remotely similar.

    And I really liked the first season of the Sarah Connor Chronicles — not sure if it’s out on dvd yet.

  16. Thank goodness. Someone else out there thinks that Buffy is not the be all and end all of feminist television. I hate Joss Whedon and I REALLY, REALLY hate Firefly. I think it is as racist and sexist as all get out. I have written a series of posts on how fucked it is. But most of the feminist blogosphere disagrees with me so I guess you’ll have to watch it and figure out whose perspective you agree with.

    My favourite TV series are Xena: the Warrior Princess and Star Trek: Voyager. And no I am not a Star Trek fan. But Voyager has a female captain and a female engineer. It isn’t a ‘feminist’ show, but neither is Xena, when it comes right down to it. Xena is pretty racist in its portrayal of Maori men.

    I like Dead Like Me but I hate the stereotypical, bordering on racist, portrayal of the ‘Mammy’ type character Ciffany in the second season. I also hate Rube in the first season. Too much the ‘loveable’ patriarch for my liking.

    Hate Angel. Boring as well as a dudefest. I’ve barely been able to watch more than an episode before getting bored and sickened by the dudiness.

    Love Daria. Daria is awesome.

  17. I tried Angel, it seems like a dudefest but I really like the vampire/ demon aspects. Damnit, we need to buy a billboard in Hollywood that says something along the lines of “Put more female characters in your scripts and we’ll actually watch them” (but in a more catchy way).

    I’ll try Star Trek; I have a real life feminist friend who loves it.

    Allecto, I agree with you about Joss Whedon (your wank vs cuntspeak post was brilliant). I like Buffy, but it keeps falling short of what it could be, which is so fucking frustrating. I never thought about it before but Giles probably does play the part of the lovable patriarch. He and Zander seem to serve no other purpose than to be “what about teh menz?”

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