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May 13 2010

The five gayest Buffy episodes ever. There's love for episodes that rarely feature on 'best of' lists.

*I* don't have any love for it. I think TV needs to focus on good entertainment, not a social agende...I never liked the Willow/Tara thing myself. At all.
Oh, that gayest.
Buffy was focused on good TV and not a "social agenda" (though AfterElton certainly has an agenda - not that there's anything wrong with that ;)). Unless you mean the nefarious agenda of treating women like human beings or refusing to ostracize characters due to their "other-ness", whatever form that took... except certain demons, 'cause you know, evil!

P.S. - Preachy eps can get in the way of the story, so I am not a fan of "Very Special Episode"s.

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2010-05-13 16:03 ]
I'd ditch everything on that list bar 'Phases' and 'Doppelgangland'.

Xander in speedos =/= gay, and 'Family' and 'Storyteller' are episodes about gay characters, not "gay episodes". It kinda undermines the entire point of having gay characters when episodes where their sexuality doesn't really come into focus are considered to be gay.

'The Killer in Me' and 'Tough Love' would have been much better choices, and the fact 'New Moon Rising' isn't on here is insane.

@Watcher's Pet: It's hardly a 'social agenda' when it's reflecting how diverse people actually are. Unless you think Willow being a Jew or Wood being black is an agenda too.
Yeah, "New Moon Rising" definitely belongs on this list. And while I love the moment at the end of "Family", when they all band together to protect Tara, the episode as a whole is neither the greatest nor the gayest. (I always found Whedon's over-the-top OMG!misogyny! characters really annoying. See also: Caleb.)
As a gay man, this list confuses me. They seem more like random gay moments in the show as opposed to gay episodes.

If anything, "New Moon Rising" should be on the list, as well as possibly "The Killer in Me".

Seeing Xander in a speedo does not make an episode "gay" -- it's actually not a very good episode to start with. I think that one bothers me the most.

@Watcher's Pet: So I assume you're a Willow/Kennedy fan? =P
I gotta agree with Waterkeeper511. There were much gayer moments with Xander than that listed; his being in a speedo didn't seem very gay to me. On the other hand, him asking Buffy if he could have sex with Riley too practically screamed it.

Small peeve: The first time Vamp Willow said, "Bored now." was in The Wish, not Dopplegangland.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-05-13 16:21 ]
I see the criticisms above, but I still kinda like this list, given I heart "Family." I still wish we'd get to see Donny trying to get past Xander at some point, for whatever reason . . . . (And that *was* an actual father-and-son pair of actors, right?) Are Rural Californians really like that?

As to "Phases" and Xander talking to Larry, talking around things is a disease with these people. (See Cordy in "Waiting In the Wings." Jeez.) (I once ficced a character making a wish which, among other things, had Larry and Andrew as roomies.)

I wonder about the Cordy-Buffy-Willow eye-pop scene in "Go Fish." Was it rehearsed with Nicky fully dressed or in sweats, and then he only wore the Speedo for the take and they went with the first shot? Because those expressions looked un-rehearsed. But I agree it's about as gay as Burt Reynolds in Cosmo.
I think TV needs to focus on good entertainment, not a social agende


I'd like to think that tv should reflect social change and occasionally lead the agenda. Otherwise we'd still be enduring utterly tedious 1950s style sitcoms where the little woman is in the kitchen, all the major characters are white and the only people of colour we see are the bellhops (I would have used 19070s British sitcoms as an analogy here but some of those are just offensive beyond belief). Society moves on, so must television.

And I'm pleased to see that someone pointed out this piece of dialogue in the AfterElton comments:

Joyce: "Are you sure you're a Vampire Slayer?" (a few lines later) "Have you tried not being a Slayer?

"Go Fish" seems to be included not because there is anything gay about it, but because there is something to be said for seeing Nicholas Brendon in a Speedo. As the author points out, "it's not exactly gay, but c'mon guys it's most certainly of gay-interest." It isn't often male leads are objectified on the same level as their female co-stars, except of course on Joss Whedon shows where it can be interpreted as a commentary on objectification in the first place. :)

I'm just happy to see that Buffy's popularity is still high enough to warrant so many top 5 (or 10) lists seven years after the finale.
Considering that Buffy as a whole was written with an agenda in mind, albeit a different one from AfterElton's, a few of the comments here startle me. In fact I would say the quality of the show and the agenda go hand in hand, although that's obviously not always true: BtVS was led to greatness by its agenda, and its greatness sustained and furthered the agenda in turn.

That said, New Moon Rising definitely belongs on there ahead of Go Fish. And Family is a pretty dang solid episode. While the plot revolves around Tara's witchcraft instead of her sexuality, it's a very easy parallel to draw. And I found her family very well-drawn, especially Cousin Beth, as people who are convinced they are doing the right thing -- and even have a bit of a point -- but are ready to manipulate like crazy to do the right thing. Very true to life, I'm afraid. And finally the gang rallies to the rescue, because Joss is so right: family is as family does.
because Joss is so right: family is as family does.

Didn't he get over this in a big way after he had kids and blew up Boyd?
A show should definitely have some sort of agenda. They should find more to talk about than one particular agenda and they shouldn't batter the viewer around the head with it at every turn, but a creative team should certainly all be going in with a clear direction of what they want to say and discuss with their show.

Of course, it should be trying to be entertaining while it is doing this. For me, Buffy always managed to get the balance between commentary and entertainment just right. You could watch most of the episodes on many different levels, from the superficial to the more in depth.
Family is pretty clearly (among other things) a gay metaphor episode, dealing with an oppressive heteronormative family. I disagree that it's just an episode about a gay character.

Anyway. Go Fish is clearly selected because it's eye candy for gay men and has a Xander glamour shot. This is AfterElton so the inclusion of this, Phases and Storyteller is probably an attempt to focus on episodes that appeal to male gays as opposed to the lesbian (female bisexual in Vamp!Willow's case)-centric Family/Doppelgangland. I'd trade one of those for New Moon Rising, but, you know, no worries.

ETA: And yes to Boyd as the dark side of the found family concept. That is my favourite part of "The Hollow Men" (which leaves me with, er, mixed feelings).

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2010-05-13 17:34 ]
Haha, I'd say I agree with those picks. Except Larry wasn't in season 1 of Buffy was he? I thought he was only seen in seasons 2 and 3.

I definitely agree that New Moon Rising should have made the list as well. It represents such a pivotal moment in Willow's life, how could it not be included? Although, I completely understand why they opted for the Xander speedo. And you simply have to love Andrew and his ambiguous sexuality. :)

[ edited by Jossfan_21 on 2010-05-13 17:37 ]
Can't say I'm a fan of lists like this one where perceptions of cheap sexual objectification seem to be the real focus (doesn't matter what sexual orientation it's aimed at, either - it's all the same in my mind.)
What's the episode with the exchange (quoted from memory):

"Haven't any of you people not slept with each other?"
[Xander and Spike exchange guilty look]
"Beneath You" (Season Seven, episode two), no?

"New Moon Rising" is a sublime episode, and the ending moves me to tears every. single. time.
mjwilson: "Beneath You." I guess SPike-Xander was regarded as the funniest of the possible non-combos; Xander-Buffy would be mostly poignant and Buffy-Anya would just cause "spell by myself" reactions.
NMR is my fave episode by far, and it more than any other should be on this list.
mjwilson-That is from "Beneath You". The correct quote is: "Is there anyone here that hasn't slept together?" Then Xander and Spike exchange a glance and then look away from each other a little too quickly.

[ edited by menomegirl on 2010-05-13 18:46 ]
"Go Fish" out, "New Moon Rising" in. "Family" stays because it's pitch perfect and resonates extremely well for those in the LGBTQ community. Dopplegangland I think is valid. Willow's "kinda gay" line isn't the only thing: VampWill openly flirts(or, ya know, molests) a girl in the Bronze).
"Storyteller" out, sub in any of the following: "The Killer in Me" (Lesbian fairytale ending thank you very much), "The Body" (Hello first WELL DONE lesbian kiss on network tv), or "Becoming Part II" (Buffy comes out to her mother).
"Phases" isn't one I would have thought of, but it works for me.

Picking whole episodes for something like this is rough since it's something spread within the verse itself. I wrote a paper (that I really need to go back to and bulk up) on the obvious "Slayer as lesbian/gay" metaphor. Especially early in the series it is incredibly obvious and there's some really golden moments that highlight it.


And Watcher's Pet; Not to be rude here, but since when is showing human beings being treated as such "having a social agenda"? Why shouldn't good entertainment involve minority groups?
Dumb list is dumb... Just the existence of this list shows that someone missed the point of the show. The entire point of the "gay arcs" was there it wasn't anything special about them, that telling a "gay plot" is for the most part exactly like telling a "straight plot" and that any differences are due to outside interference only.

And for the record, "Family" has nothing to do with sexual orientation, it's about the concept of the actual meaning of the word family as opposed to its traditional, and ultimately irrelevant, meaning of biological family. Not saying that biological families aren't "real families" a lot of the time but that in those cases it's purely coincidental. And if you somehow get "gay metaphor" out of that epi, well honestly as far as I'm concerned it's a the best example of "seek and you shall find" that I've ever seen in a long time.
menomegirl: "look away from each other a little too quickly." I knew you'd say soemthing like that :-).
Djungle: Really? You don't see how Family has a rather BLATANT "gay metaphor" involved in it? Strange that you'd call it "seek and you shall find" where I'd say missing it is basically "looking everywhere but at the screen".
BYOS(ubtext) I suppose.

Might I also add that the concept of "chosen family" by itself resonates within the LGBTQ community? Even without a "gay metaphor" the episode hits home because for a large number of LGBTQ individuals, their families are chosen rather than biological. Due, in large part, to families such as Tara's who are...shall we say, less than accepting.
The end of 'Family' gets me teary more than any other ep. It's as much for the sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies and dickheads as it is for the gays. Anyone trying to find a home, really.

[ edited by fraac on 2010-05-13 19:00 ]
*I* don't have any love for it. I think TV needs to focus on good entertainment, not a social agende...I never liked the Willow/Tara thing myself. At all.


Speaking as a gay man, the same could be said about the opposite "social agenda" in the reality of television - however, as a gay man, I don't have a problem seeing a man and a woman kiss or show some kind of affection. Never have, never will.

What I do find interesting is how often comments like the above one are made toward homosexuals. We do exist. We should be represented. So many heterosexuals seem to focus on homosexual behavior, when the heterosexual behavior dominates everything in day to day advertising, etc. yet the homosexuals in this world hardly seem to give a care about heterosexual activity.

Personally, I have no agenda. I just want to be treated the same as everyone else - including marriage. It's really that simple. Whether I choose to get married or not, that's another question altogether, but I would certainly like the option. And domestic partnership laws in California are no where near the same - after all you don't even have to live together to be married in a heterosexual relationship, but for some reason a same-sex couple needs to (honestly, I would think if you're married you would be living together anyway, but hey...).

I'm a gay man that hates Wicked (mostly because I'm a purist...meaning I also hated the MGM movie), doesn't care for Queer as Folk (exploiting sexuality and stereotypes into the mainstream is never a good thing), never liked Will & Grace (playing for laughs in regards to sexuality never sat well with me), avoids gay bars (I'll never understand the self-segregation crowds - kinda defeats the purpose), doesn't appreciate gay pride parades (I'm not proud to be gay anymore than I'm proud to be white or a US citizen - I'm just me, and sexuality should never define a person - it should just be a part of that person just like everything else), doesn't have gay friends (I don't claim ownership over someone based on their sexuality - I have friends and they just happen to be gay or straight and everything in between)...etc., etc.

I also didn't like Brokeback Mountain (seemed more like lust to me) - I prefer Big Eden (where sexuality is not the focus, despite it being a love story).

The thing is, until we get to the time where gays and straights can co-exist without sexuality mattering, I'll never be satisfied. Until a homosexual character can be portrayed in equal fashion to a heterosexual character, I'll not be satisfied.

Seems that some 20 years after The Celluloid Closet came out (pardon the pun) we still have a long way to go in both film and society. So if there's an agenda, that's it.

Hope someone took the minutes. ;)
And for the record, "Family" has nothing to do with sexual orientation[.]


I think you meant to write, "In my opinion, . . . ". :-). I disagree, and I'm not one to read subtext into text that seems plain enough on its face. I think it's most evident in the following lines:

Mr. Maclay to Tara: "You don't even try to hide it any more. I'd hoped maybe you'd gotten over the whole witchcraft thing. That if we let you go, you'd ... get it out of your system."

Cousin Beth to Tara: "Donny and your dad having to do for themselves while you're down here living god knows what kind of lifestyle."

Seems to me that "lifestyle" has long been a coded word for gay behavior, and that "getting it out of one's system" has long been the blinkered reaction of those who refused to accept the truth of their children's sexuality. And, as trunktheslayer points out, the whole notion of found family seems to speak to the idea that traditional biological families exclude gay people. Makes perfect sense to me.
And Watcher's Pet; Not to be rude here, but since when is showing human beings being treated as such "having a social agenda"? Why shouldn't good entertainment involve minority groups?

I think the gripe is more with the tendency of modern works of film, tv, etc. to alternately over or under-emphasize issues like race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. to the extent that such topics can become an annoyance to the discerning viewer who's just looking for a good story.
And for the record, "Family" has nothing to do with sexual orientation, it's about the concept of the actual meaning of the word family as opposed to its traditional, and ultimately irrelevant, meaning of biological family.


Yeah, and in "Once More, With Feeling" they were really talking about a willow tree. ;)

*please*
Wait, they weren't talking about a willow tree? Mind. Blown.
I think the gripe is more with the tendency of modern works of film, tv, etc. to alternately over or under-emphasize issues like race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. to the extent that such topics can become an annoyance to the discerning viewer who's just looking for a good story.


True, but under or over-emphasizing will not begin to go away until equality is stabilized. Unfortunately there's a long road ahead. Even in 2010.

After all, it wasn't until 2005 that a gay man couldn't be thrown in jail in the United States simply for being gay. True story. Prior to that some states didn't have laws protecting homosexuals. And there are still states that have sodomy laws.

What's interesting is that a homosexual man can't be a scout leader, but a lesbian can be a den mother. Which just reinforces the thought process that gay men are just sick pedophiles.

Just something to think about.

(As for the over or under-emphasizing - check out The Celluloid Closet - one of the best films on this topic.)
True, but under or over-emphasizing will not begin to go away until equality is stabilized.

Which, in turn, isn't likely to come about until the over or under-emphasizing stops as well (unless - of course - people take the approach of sidestepping it altogether by treating it the way it should be - as a non-issue.)
didifallasleep,

After all, it wasn't until 2005 that a gay man couldn't be thrown in jail in the United States simply for being gay. True story. Prior to that some states didn't have laws protecting homosexuals. And there are still states that have sodomy laws.


I'm not sure this is entirely accurate. The status of "being gay," so far as I know, has never been expressly criminalized in the U.S. (If you mean that gay people were thrown in jail *on some other pretext* but essentially for being gay, I'd agree with that). What event in 2005 are you referring to?

On the other hand, sodomy was until recently a crime in many U.S. states, and the law was rarely, if ever, enforced against heterosexual people. All such sodomy laws were effectively invalidated by Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). To quote from the decision:

"The case does involve two adults who, with full and mutual consent from each other, engaged in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle. The petitioners are entitled to respect for their private lives. The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government."

The fact that anti-gay prejudice continues to exist, of course, is beyond dispute.
Not sure on the circumstances of 2005 that protected homosexuals, but I wrote a paper a few years back and recalled coming across that fact.

Didn't know about the sodomy laws being invalidated. But yay.

Oddly enough scissoring was never an issue.

:P
didifallasleep zeitgeist: Well, one beauty of "Spread beneath my willow tree, You make me complete" is that, even tho we know what it refers to, it still works as an ordinary metaphor of how two people in a couple could interact.

Djungelurban fraac SoddingNancyTribe: Thing is that "magick as metaphor for lesbianism" was an established trope in the Willow-Tara relationship; "Family" simply took it to a quasi-illogical extreme to represent gay-person-cut-off-from-relatives as itself a logical development of the storyline.

didifallasleep brinderwalt: Egotisitcal comment follows, feel free to ignore if you wish; That's one of the dieas I ahev in the screenplay I sometimes pretend to work on, "The Checkered City." I'm intentionally doing it so that affinity, gender, and race issues seem to be superficially very important to the content, but in reality they are both irrelevant to the plot (straight-forward crime drama with some relationship and mortality issues thrown in) and also mainly immaterial to the characters themselves. Of course the chances of convincing an agent to pitch it are slim even if I do finish it.
DaddyCatALSO: sounds like an awesome idea! I love things which appear to say one thing but actually mean the opposite. It usually indicates they're authored by people capable of understanding multiple sides of issues to the point where they can see how they intersect; an ability most writers, unfortunately, seem to lack.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2010-05-13 22:03 ]
I always considered "family" a gay metaphor episode but also whatever's on the outskirt of what is considered norm. Witchcraft is one such activity so it works on a somewhat real and a metaphoric way. It also works on the basis of how men can depower women in some families plus it works to describe the scoobies. It's what made Joss's work so wonderful-he could have an agenda but make it have many meanings at the same time.
didifallasleep, yay, someone else who's *seen* "Big Eden!" I did like "Brokeback," though - I felt it was about two people who loved each other but were very dysfunctional about it.

I felt on "Angel" that Lorne's love of music, coming from a place where singing was deeply frowned upon, and his disastrous relationship with his family were also metaphors for coming out in a phobic community and moving away to a community defined by comradeship rather than blood, also issues that resonate in the GLBT community (btw, I sure wish somebody would come up with a better acronym -- I keep feeling like I'm talking about the bacon-lettuce-tomato community).
DaddyCat: fair enough, I'll try to stop relating so strongly to the episode.
didifallasleep, you pretty much said everything I was going to say, but with more..good..wordness.
If they're gonna make a list called "gayest Buffy episodes" (and it being from AfterElton, most knew it was gonna come at it mostly from a gay/bi male perspective, though they were nice enough to throw in some of the important Willow and/or Tara eps too, given that there was more lesbian/bi-girl content than gay-dude/bi-dude content, though certainly no lack of jokes about the male side of it), I'm glad they included both the material that qualified for depth and the mentions they stuck on there for visual appeal.

There's nothing wrong with appreciating/drooling over, promoting, and hyping the eye candy. A whole lotta people out there like to look at the wide variety of attractiveness available in real life and on the screen. What makes it "cheap sexual objectification" ? (and how/when does sexual objectification get to not be cheap, just outta curiosity?) Can't we just have fun with this stuff sometimes ? Do we have to be cranky/crotchety about this kind of analysis of the show (why an ep has "gay appeal"--or appeals to anyone who appreciates a particular kind of eye candy, to be fair and all-inclusive about it), always putting it down, just because we're a little tired of seeing sex sold to the masses everywhere else ? It sometimes feels like folks mention they don't like the objectifying in entertainment/society just so they can ride the wave of "I'm above the baseness/the beast of man", but to me it sounds ridiculous to deny that side of us and, I dunno, repressive of one's self or uncomfortable or something. Lighten up. Lust exists, it's not inherently a bad or less admirable human/animal trait, nothin' wrong with the writers of that article pandering to it. And to be fair, they varied it up by including both commendable/forward-thinking stories and the mediocre-but-humor-and/or-beef-featuring eps. The list isn't a complete write-off just for including the fun stuff (and yeah, I know, the meatily-written, endlessly discussable intelligent content is "fun" too).

Re: agenda, folks rather they not make a big deal about racism, homophobia, etc, in some or all TV anymore

Gotta figure that a lotta the folks that're writing TV and films have either experienced the discrimination first-hand, have had friends who've gone through it, or who simply pick up a newspaper/watch the news/go online now and again and read that folks still care about and are effected by these issues. So they write about it, it ends up in your entertainment, because the scriptwriters are reacting to the world around them. It'd be a little hard and probably unfair to try to convince them to stop focusing on these things just because you (a) are getting tired of watching programming where it's highlighted and/or (b) have a theory that it might become less of an issue in the world if we just shut up about it or portray it in our stories in a way that's not true to real life. Think that's naive, personally. Constantly featuring race and homosexuality in TV and films in a casual manner will not, over time, convince the whole of the world (even if we're just talking the Westernized world) that these things are okay/non-issues. Folks will still continue to be made ignorant by prejudices in their families, coming from their faiths in some cases, and from just general unfamiliarity. Constantly exposing them to the issues, and making an issue out of it, in entertainment will at least keep it on people's minds/have some question their beliefs/not let the more ignorant side of humanity re-gain footholds (of course, I'm not saying TV/film is gonna do this all by itself, but it doesn't hurt. The next frontier is probably video games, but good luck with that one).

I'm not saying I wanna always see victims on TV or that I want the writers to write from a place of victimization all the time, but it still needs to be present within shows somewhere, depending on the story being told, to feel at all honest.

[ edited by Kris on 2010-05-14 00:30 ]
I must disagree with the idea that either show, Buffy or Angel, had an agenda. But Joss the writer certainly has a P.O.V. and he was not reticent about sharing it. That's not the same thing.

Imo an agenda driven show would put the political message ahead of story-telling and I can not see Joss doing that. YMMV.
Y'know, I understand the very first post generated much of the response to an otherwise relatively benign "most" kind of article, but after I read that response again, something stood out to me, and not the "agenda" issue, which itself was mildly upsetting to me. It was this: "*I* don't have any love for it." What is the it in this supposed to mean?
Chances are that Watcher's Pet ain't gonna come back into this thread to write an elaborate post explaining their vague drive-by from earlier, especially not after all the replies. It's one of those "I just wanted to get a shot in/rile you all up", would be my guess, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
There's love for episodes that rarely feature on 'best of' lists.


Hmmm. I've always had a thing for "Phases", "Go Fish" & "Family". And "Doppelgangland" & "Storytelller" aren't half bad either.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2010-05-14 01:52 ]
Y'know, I understand the very first post generated much of the response to an otherwise relatively benign "most" kind of article, but after I read that response again, something stood out to me, and not the "agenda" issue, which itself was mildly upsetting to me. It was this: "*I* don't have any love for it." What is the it in this supposed to mean?

Watcher's Pet's use of the word 'it' was a direct take on the post description instance of the word 'love' in reference to the content of the post headline ("...gayest Buffy episodes...")

There's nothing wrong with appreciating/drooling over, promoting, and hyping the eye candy. [...] What makes it "cheap sexual objectification"?

Treating it as an ends rather than a means in the context of a story - or real life, for that matter.

(and how/when does sexual objectification get to not be cheap, just outta curiosity?)

When it's treated as just one of the many facets that form the measure of human character.

Can't we just have fun with this stuff sometimes?

I don't see why not.

Do we have to be cranky/crotchety about this kind of analysis of the show (why an ep has "gay appeal"--or appeals to anyone who appreciates a particular kind of eye candy, to be fair and all-inclusive about it), always putting it down, just because we're a little tired of seeing sex sold to the masses everywhere else?

If it was me or my work being analyzed I'd certainly prefer a more than skin deep analysis being done to it.

It sometimes feels like folks mention they don't like the objectifying in entertainment/society just so they can ride the wave of "I'm above the baseness/the beast of man", but to me it sounds ridiculous to deny that side of us and, I dunno, repressive of one's self or uncomfortable or something.

No one has said that the alternative to objectification in this context is denial.

Lighten up. Lust exists, it's not inherently a bad or less admirable human/animal trait[...]

It is - after all - one of many, perfectly natural aspects of the human psyche.

...nothin' wrong with the writers of that article pandering to it.

It's certainly requires less mental dexterity on the author's part and is bound to get them more page views.

And to be fair, they varied it up by including both commendable/forward-thinking stories and the mediocre-but-humor-and/or-beef-featuring eps. The list isn't a complete write-off just for including the fun stuff (and yeah, I know, the meatily-written, endlessly discussable intelligent content is "fun" too).

It's hard to talk about anything relating to the works of Joss Whedon without slipping into an actual topic of substance. :)

Gotta figure that a lotta the folks that're writing TV and films have either experienced the discrimination first-hand, have had friends who've gone through it, or who simply pick up a newspaper/watch the news/go online now and again and read that folks still care about and are effected by these issues. So they write about it, it ends up in your entertainment, because the scriptwriters are reacting to the world around them.

Problems arise when the world around the writers, as you say, isn't the same one as that found around most of their viewers. The typical sphere of cultural experience of the tv writer community you describe above isn't a very broad one - why else do you think people (like me and many others here on whedonesque) are constantly complaining about the general lack of imagination or originality in tv making these days?

I must disagree with the idea that either show, Buffy or Angel, had an agenda. But Joss the writer certainly has a P.O.V. and he was not reticent about sharing it. That's not the same thing.

Imo an agenda driven show would put the political message ahead of story-telling and I can not see Joss doing that. YMMV.

Couldn't agree more; it's why I like the man's work so much.
Am I the only one who never saw metaphors in Buffy? For me it was about a cute girl killing vampires, which is awesome.
fraac: Actually, my take on "Family" is fairly close to yours, I just word-chopped it a bit more, and I was trying to referree a difference of opinion, a soemtimes annoying habit of mine :-).
Loved your first comment didifallasleep. Except for the not liking Brokeback Mountain part, but hey .... nobody's perfect. ;)
I'm with fraac to an extent here. The Garland-Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato community aside, I just watched the shows for shear entertainment value, not a lecture on Hollywood morality. Here's a new one: how about defining people by their, oh I don't know, humanity and character rather than how they get their genital jollies?
Of course Buffy had an agenda -- as if having one were some sort of taint, while purporting not to have one is some sort of merit: as if there were any such thing as pure 'storytelling' for the sake of telling a story: as if there were no intent to guide the imagination of an audience in one direction or another, towards one way of viewing the world vs. another, towards one manner of acting vs. another, towards one set of values rather than another.

All entertainment is instruction: the only important issue for art is whether a procrustean device or set of devices is applied to the material in order to eliminate any ambiguities or natural contradictions that occur within every situation & every individual.

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