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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"I swallowed a bug."
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February 14 2004

Joss Whedon posts at the Bronze. "No, we had no idea this was coming. Yes, we will finish out the season. No, I don't think the WB is doing the right thing. Yes, I'm grateful they did it early enough for my people to find other jobs. Yes, my heart is breaking."

This'll probably go off the main page there shortly and until the VIP archive is updated, you can read a transcript of what he said here.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by and they CANCELLED MY FRIKKIN' SHOW. I totally shoulda took the road that had all those people on it. Damn."

No, you took the right road, Joss, every damn time...who the hell are these fools, anyway, who keep dross and worse on and cancel something so sublime as Angel...

Our hearts, collectively breaking, too...
At least now I can stop feeling sorry for myself and start feeling sorry for Joss :-(
Thanks for posting that Simon. That actually made me cry. I can't believe I'm sitting here crying. This sucks.
You've really got to feel for the guy, he makes TV shows that the people that actually take the time to watch, regard as genius, and yet the way things are going, he won't have anything on TV next year.
I would rather see him shelf Firefly for a few months, and start working on either getting Angel on another network, or writing a new spinoff. As much as I eagerly await the Firefly movie, I'm not ready to say goodbye to the Buffyverse.
He's probably not even thinking about the future today, if it were me I'd be crushed, he changed his show for these guys, and they killed it.
Truth be known, I'm drinking red wine just very numb after reading what he said. Poor bugger just tried to make great television, I owe him a lot as a result.
We all took that road...a road to the Jossverse!!! No regrets...loved every moment...and cannot wait for the path to reappear...I will follow!
No s**t Coll! We love our captain!
It's a sad, sad fact that out of FOX, WB, and UPN...UPN would have the most class when dealing with
Joss Whedon.

FOX and WB should be ashamed of themselves.
Couldn't have said it better. I don't know who's worse, Fox or WB. They both have done him wrong after all the success and money he's helped them have. Fox is making a fortune off of the licensing of Buffy and Angel merchandise and then to screw him over with Firefly is just a slap in the face. And who the Hell ever even heard of the WB before Buffy put it on the map! No one would be watching anything on that network if it wasn't for the success of Buffy. The UPN gladly jumped at the chance to have such a critically acclaimed show while the WB squabbled over money. And then for the WB to do it AGAIN is beyond me. And again so soon after the 100th episode like they did with Buffy.

I hope Joss and UPN try to work something out and I hope if there ever is a spin off it ends up on UPN because they seem to stick with their shows even when they aren't doing that well (which was not the case with ANGEL who has been having a great year)!
I don't think anyone has "cheated" JW or ME...And blwessels, are you certain that Buffy and Angel have been WB "cash-cows"? His show's are creative and genre bending but they have not proven profittable in comparison to their considerable production costs (not to mention huge franchise fees paid to Fox for the rights to even air these shows)...I really enjoyed Buffy and I love AtS!!!I have a sneaking suspicion that AtS fans are not entirely represented by Neilsen ratings..I would not be surprised that its actual ratings are 1.0 million more/episode...And who knows, maybe Joss has burned several bridges with many of these corporate types...You never know how much personal relationships play in these situation...Although I am convinced this was entirely a sound business decision.
On a consiliatory note: Angel Season Three boxed-set is Amazon's #3 top selling item...That is really saying something! You would think that the increased revenue brought on by the DVD sales would make continued production on the series worth it? Which makes RavenU's argument for TV for DVD a very possible alternative.

[ edited by Simpleba on 2004-02-15 02:19 ]
Another thing to consider is, Everybody is saying screw Fox and all of that, but you have to remember The fox network operates seperetly from fox dvd, and the 20th century fox production studio. While it is true that FOX network grossly mishandeled Firefly, 20th century Fox has done a lot in effort to keep Joss's shows on the air.
Great points Gorilla!
Hmmm - not profitable? If both of those shows attracted viewers who then tuned into other WB shows and became fans of those shows I would call that profitable. Go and read a lot of the postings from the last few threads and many, many people say they started watching one show or another on the WB because of Buffy and Angel. The WB in their own annoucement talks about how Buffy and Angel were the "cornerstones" of their network. Just today my friend was wearing a "Buffy" shirt with the WB logo on it. Not a "Fox" logo but "WB". There is a lot of merchandise out there surrounding those two shows that have raked in money for the WB over the 7 year run. They might not be getting a cut of the loot from the DVD sales but they certainly are getting some money from marketing Buffy when they carried it and Angel. Also they are bringing in revenue from the ads that run when the show is on. They also get all the free publicity when any article of Angel is written that mentions the WB. Just this year alone Angel has had two TV Guide covers all to themselves. So yeah, I don't think the WB is getting short changed at all. They certainly weren't complaining when Buffy put them on the map.

And personally I think publically telling Joss Whedon not to worry about Angel because another show about a vampire is going to be shown the next year and that "the WB has room for two shows about Vampires because they are different genres" and then less than a few weeks later cancelling the currently running Vampire show is "screwing" Joss Whedon. Why not be up front from the beginning and let the cast and crew know they're not coming back. Why give them the run around for almost two seasons when in their own words his shows were the "cornerstone of their network".

And your question to me about whether or not I am certain that Buffy and Angel have been WB "cash-cows? isn't what I said. I said Fox has made a fortune off of them. I've already explained my reasonings to why I think Buffy and Angel greatly benefited the WB above.
Just was visiting the WB website and they have a "shopping" section where they are selling Angel merchandise, including the DVD sets so they are making some money off of those as well.
Hear, hear, blwessels. I, too, think Whedon was screwed. Not just Whedon -- the whole cast and crew. Business is business, yeah -- whatever. What I find disturbing is all that oily sweetness 'n praise talk that was heaped over Angel during the 100th party by the corporate suits when what they were clearly celebrating was passing the syndication bonanza mark. You can bloody well believe that there was never going to be room for two vampire shows. It was all sleazy rhetoric.

Yup, all that the unctuous, insincere praise from Levin et. al. while plans were being made to terminate the show. Please. It may be business, but it's business with a slimy flavor. Wolfram & Hart, anyone?

As for Joss having burnt bridges with people -- I'll believe that when I get first-hand information of it. Anyone running three shows is going to get cranky at times. Anyone in the entertainment business is going to get cranky at times. This does not a monster make.
As I read your post phlebotinin...I was thinking Levin should be employed by W&H. What a snake. I'm sorry but you're right...smiling and shaking hands one minute...stabbing you in the back next.
Phlebotinin - The millions of fans were screwed as well!

"Thank you loyal viewers for tuning in week after week - now go watch some other network!"

Yup! That's what I'm gonna do!!
Quote: blwessels

And personally I think publically telling Joss Whedon not to worry about Angel because another show about a vampire is going to be shown the next year and that "the WB has room for two shows about Vampires because they are different genres" and then less than a few weeks later cancelling the currently running Vampire show is "screwing" Joss Whedon. Why not be up front from the beginning and let the cast and crew know they're not coming back.

Ah, but as always he forgets to mention the other parts of the equation. Yes two vampire shows could have survived because DS is a "Gothic soap opera" and Angel is an "action adventure series" isn't that how he compared them. Funny how he forgot to mention that there was however going to be 2 other action adventures shows being made inhouse, thus in there lies the rub 2 vampire shows may have survived but they didn't have room for more action adventure series.
"Global Frequency" based on a comic book and the description makes it sound like a Buffy/Alias rip-off and the other a remake of a classic Sci-fi series Lost in Space with a former Buffy/Angel writer Doug Petrie in the production and writing chair. So with all three of those shows on deck and being made by sister company - WB studios, why would they keep Angel. The writing was on the wall from the start - I just think that JW and ME were to close to it to see what it said.
i am so so so sad, i really feel for joss, i hope he can somehow keep the buffyverse alive. what a sad day for tv.
They're advertising my party, and they dont profit off of that. WB doesnt make money off of product sales.
I don't know what you mean about your party but they are selling dvds and other merchandise on their website as an "affiliate" of Amazon and yes, indeed they will receive a cut from Amazon through the affilate program. I know because I was once in the Amazon Affilliate program and I know how it works. If they weren't getting anything from it (profits) they wouldn't bother.
While I have sympathy for Joss Whedon, who so clearly is a TV genius and has given us many, many hours of smart, funny, and emotionally satisfying entertainment, it's odd to me that he should state the following in his posting at The Bronze:
"I'm so into these characters, these actors, the situations we're building."
To me, it's precisely his lack of consideration for his characters, his actors, and his situation that did the show in (from a critical standpoint, anyway). His treatment of his characters has been horribly unfocused--his devotion to Spike basically cheated his other characters out of proper air time and therefore development. Gunn, for example, seems to have no sense of past in the context of his former street life (let's face it--in Jossverse, minorities are never going to get a fair shake. In this way, Whedon is as complicit as the writers of Sex and the City, Friends, and all those other 9021crap shows in completely dismissing minority individuals), and just when it seems that he'll have time to develop, we get Spike back. As for his actors, I was utterly stunned to see that Cordelia's death received no mention on last week's episode, a further disregard for Charisma Carpenter, who helped make Angel such an entertaining and emotionally satisfying show to begin with. Why Whedon and ME have such disrespect for Carpenter's work and investment is beyond me. As for situation, this W & H scenario has been little more than a chance to wink at the audience, and ultimately it has lightened the serious thematic weight of what it means to be good, and what it means to be evil, in the world of Angel. While the WB execs might have been pleased with these changes, I feel, as a devoted viewer, that the show's cancellation is a sign of its missteps in terms of story, character, and use of actors. The first four seasons of Angel were terrific, and I'm grateful to Whedon. But this fifth season has undermined the wonderful myths established in the preceding four years, and a huge disrespect for Charisma Carpenter, and most of all, to the fans who appreciated the show's willingness to delve into darkness in order to explore the meaning of humanity. As a professor of Buffy studies (I plan to teach a course on Buffy next fall), it will be interesting to see how my students view this fifth season. To me, it was an uninspired detour that betrayed the story we viewers fell in love with. Unless the show were to get back on track (which didn't seem to be happening), then I think that we, the fans, are better off seeing Angel end sooner than later.
Remember it was the WB not Joss who insisted that Spike should be brought onto Angel. The truly sad thing about this cancellation is that the move to W&H has been disruptive but the series was getting better all the time. I was greatly looking forward to season 6 where I think the W&H setting would have been an excellent basis for the show.
mel, it's interesting to me that most of the items you've attributed to the "downfall" of Angel are the only reasons we got a fifth season in the first place. It's been a major change, but I remember not fully being on board for Buffy Season 4 either until it was over. And yeah, there were still little things I would have like to have been worked out differently, but in the end, I got a very worthwhile season of television. I wasn't a big fan of Angel Season 3, in fact I almost stopped watching the show, but that story ended in what I thought was Angel's best season to date, Season 4. I certainly am not going to make a final decision on this season until it's complete. Angel is the only network show I watch at this point, so no, this fan is not better off seeing Angel end sooner. Well, unless Joss really manages to fast-track his Firefly movie, cause he has the free time now.
Mel...everything you listed was what the WB wanted...not Joss...they wanted stand alone eps...they wanted less arc...less backstory...these changes were forced on Joss and company to even have the 5th season...he made the changes for them and bang...they screwed us over. End of story.
mel, I think it bears noting that your definition of "consideration" and JW's definition of "into" may vary quite widely, as do your individual objectives re Buffy, as do your relative positions in the grand scheme of the verse he did, after all, create.

[ edited by jeebs on 2004-02-15 17:35 ]
let's face it--in Jossverse, minorities are never going to get a fair shake. In this way, Whedon is as complicit as the writers of Sex and the City, Friends, and all those other 9021crap shows in completely dismissing minority individuals

Gee mel, have ever actually seen Firefly?

And I love CC as much as the next person. In fact, as much as I liked BtVS I doubt I would have bothered with Angel originally if she hadn't been on it.Your post however, reads less like someone who has an analytic interpretation of the myriad philosophies of BtVS and more like someone who is planning to camp out to get CC's issue of Playboy.
I watched my DVD copy of "The Puppet Show" last night. It felt like a requiem for the entire franchise. If indeed this is the end, it is going to be hard on me. I want to be satisfied with how all the magic ends gorrammit.
I haven't seen Firefly, stakeholder, and perhaps I should. But even if I did, I doubt it could erase the awful images of the Chinese slayer in season 7, who came across as a Joss-version of the exchange student (can't and don't want to remember his name) in Sixteen Candles. How and why Joss would permit such an awful stereotype for the sake of intended laughs is beyond me.

As for CC's Playboy: I'm gay. But as for my CC-centric post, I see your point, but I think the situation with her speaks for what I've taken issue with--a sacrifice of story and continuity, a waste for talent, and a disregard for many of the show's fans.
How and why Joss would permit such an awful stereotype for the sake of intended laughs is beyond me.

So, the Chinese slayer was a stereotype because why? She spoke Chinese? If anything, Giles' handling of her was what was played for laughs.

Minorities are just that...a minority. Whilst the LA based Angel admittedly doesn't feature too many people of Hispanic origin, I hardly think bashing Whedon for not having ethnic characters is unfair. It would have been worse if he deliberately put more minority characters in for just that reason. The story is everything.

Buy Firefly and watch Zoe and Book. They were strong, smart and powerful characters that were integral to the show. If you can find a better minority character on television I'll be surprised.

The Chinese potential on Buffy wasn't stereotyped as far as I can tell (two years dating a Chinese girl gives some point of reference). She was unable to speak any English and Giles couldn't speak enough of... Cantonese or Mandarin (I forget which) to be anything but a hindrance. Every bit of the comedy in that exchange came at Giles expense.

The actors in a Mutant Enemy production are treated better than any show I have ever seen. The writing is tailored to the actor to a degree that is unmatched in any medium. These actors get a chance to shine brighter here than anywhere else. Just look at their work on any other production and you’ll see what I mean, this is there best work. If they have to subjugate their ego to the character and Joss’ story lines (forced upon him or not), that is a small price to pay.

And being gay doesn’t keep you from wanting to check out Charisma… is Mel short for Melanie?
I think most fans would agree that JW has fucked up here and there. He's certainly pissed me off more than once. Some think he's done it more than others. Some things that outrage some people don't bother others.

A great many of these comments don't take into consideration the role and power of the networks in the situation, and simply put, there's no sure way of knowing that had Joss done something different, even done it exactly the way you or some other fan wanted it, that it would have "worked" the way you think it would.

Maybe Joss singlehandedly drove his shows into the ground. Maybe he was a complete victim of the networks. Most likely, it was something inbetween

As far as I can tell, no one here is actually a writer or producer of a network television show or has a completely informed understanding of the factors involved in the creation thereof. So no matter what we think, what we know, or who we are, we're still just Monday-morning quarterbacking here, Mel.

re racial stereotyping, ever hear Margaret Cho's routine about her shortlived tv show? She was in essence playing herself, yet she was criticised both for being 'too Asian" as well as for not being "Asian enough." So many hands go into what ends up on the screen, it's impossible to know for certain that JW alone is responsible for 100% of what we see. Not to mention that different people find different things stereotypical.

[ edited by jeebs on 2004-02-15 22:39 ]
mel, I never said anything about Joss needing to make up for past transgressions and trying to "erase awful images" (though I find the idea of Joss Whedon resorting to stealing from Sixteen Candles to be laughable). If you want to make the point that there is a dearth of representation on Buffy or on Angel there might be some merit to that but your statement was about the "Jossverse". This can only mean that you have neither seen Firefly nor read any of his work for Dark Horse. I just think that if you are actually being paid for your assessment of his work you need to think more about what you are saying.
I agree with stakeholder and others. Mel, if you are to offer a course on Joss's work, for goodness' sake please look into Firefly and Fray and his Dark Horse stuff. Evaluating Buffy and Angel on their own merits, I agree that they've been dominated by white characters. But I do not see the kind of pandering to stereotypes that you see. Interesting how perspectives can be so very different.

If you do offer your course without having checked out Firefly, I sincerely hope that one of your students will call you on it.
I actually think that Cordelia's character was treated with much less respect in late season 3 and all of season 4. She may have only appeared in one episode of season 5, but that was finally the well-written, wonderful Cordelia that we once knew and adored. Just the fact that we had a return of the real Cordy shows tons of respect for Charisma and the character -- much more than the character assassination of years 3 and 4. I firmly believe this has been the best season since year 2, so it really is a matter of opinion.
The course will focus only on Buffy, and I think it will be important for them to see how all aspects of the show--from standpoints both sociological and fantastical. Whedon himself has said that Buffy was created to be an icon, and by icon, I assume he means a pop icon, and by pop, he means popular culture, our popular culture. If Buffy and Angel are meant to be treated as both entertaining dramas and possible social documents, then looking at characters like Mr. Trick, the Chinese potential slayer, even Nicky the Slayer, is an important thing to do in studying Buffy as a text. And the Chinese potential IS problematic--as a character, she's given a "double otherness--she's a slayer and she's also a slayer no one can understand. This complexity is not inherenty racist or insensitive, but since it's treated for cheap laughs, it's definitely troubling. I certainly didn't expect her character to be explored--she was atmospheric at best--but it certainly would have sent a stronger message if they'd simply made her an English-speaking, American potential. And if any of you can take the time to see it from a different perspective: the young actress is a student at Stanford University. I can only imagine how exciting it must have been for her to be cast in BTVS, and how defeating to know that she had to play the non-English speaking stereotype. If you're not able to see this, if you simply fall back on the "it's just a TV show" ideology, than you certainly don't see Buffy or Angel as the pop culture phenomenon, or 'icon,' that Whedon created.
Last I heard, Slayers and Potentials were from all over the world, not just "English-speaking American"s.
And nobody FORCED the girl to "play the non-English speaking stereotype".
Don't like the part? Don't take the job. Welcome to the wonderful world of professional acting!
I also don't see how that role was comparable to the scenes from "Sixteen Candles". The character in that movie was out to have a good time drinking and having sex. She came across as intelligent and poised and Giles is the one who came across as looking foolish. I think you are really stretching trying to prove your point and you don't seem to be getting anywhere. I think if your class consists of people who have actually seen the show you are going to have a real hard time of convincing them. Maybe if your class is with a bunch of people who have never seen the show you will win your argument.

It would not have been realistic at all to have all the potential slayers be English speaking white girls. It would not have been realistic that Giles could speak every language in the world. So therefore it makes sense to me how those scenes played out and they were in no way showing this character in a bad light. After all the show was about "one girl in all the world" and not "one girl, but only from English speaking regions". Just curious though, would you have preferred that they had no minorites as potentials?

Just also want to point out that where I live there are very few minorities in my town and surrounding towns so it wasn't that unusual that Sunnydale could be a town that was mostly white people. I also thought that Robin Wood was a great character and he was a regular on Buffy for the entire final season. People like to live in communties that represent them. I'm half Greek and where my church was when I was a kid the whole neighborhood was Greek people. My stepfather was Irish and he lived in a community of mostly Irish people. My friend is Swedish and the community she grew up in was mostly Swedish people. All these neighborhoods were in Worcester, MA. If they did a spin off with the potential Slayer Rona and set it in her neighborhood I would expect she'd be in an area with mostly black people. It's not a big deal, It's America and that's why they call it a "melting pot" but people still want to live near and around people who share the same culture. So if the character of Buffy was supposed to be originally a spoiled valley girl from California it makes sense that she would represent that population. I just don't see or agree with your argument that Joss Whedon treated minorities badly at all and stereotyped them.

[ edited by blwessels on 2004-02-16 02:33 ]
Mel, I for one am not falling back on the "it's just a tv show" ideology. As a fellow academic I agree that one must critically examine the sociological aspects of Buffy in a course on Buffy. There is a lot to criticize from various perspectives. Where you lose me utterly is in asking us to feel sorry for a Stanford U student who lands a job on Buffy and finds she's not an English speaker and must comically mime her reactions to ridiculous situations. This does not a defeat make. A real defeat is a young woman who cannot afford to go to Stanford or any other college even though she deserves to.

Is there only one way a non-English-speaking Chinese slayer should react to Giles and his ridiculous drawings of blood and mayhem and his hopelessly entangled Mandarin? Should broad humor be proscribed when the scene includes someone who is not caucasian? The actress's role is a tiny one and is meant mainly to play for laughs against Giles. Giles is the ass, not the Chinese slayer.

The topic of the Chinese slayer is not an either/or proposition. If we (or your students) do not entirely agree with your interpretation, that does not mean that we're simply falling back on an "it's just a TV show" ideology.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2004-02-16 02:47 ]
Not sure about anyone else, but I find it difficult to sit in a class and get anything out of it when it is strucured in such a way that shows an obvious agenda at work.
You "assume" that by icon he meant pop icon and you're basing your course on that? I'm not sure why you assume that, if he was just trying to make a buck off of pop culture then he did kind of a crap-ass job. Gosh, he was trying to make a one-dimensional cool chickie in pink and he accidentally addressed atheism, feminism, questions about capitalism, fictive kin constructions, whether good and evil even really, what a putz! An icon is simply a representation. Joss has been very clear that he was trying to subvert the notion of what happens when a little blond girl goes into a dark alley full of monsters at night. Buffy is the representation of that.

And further more, you "can only imagine" how the actor felt at being cast in BtVS? That's entirely correct--you're imagining. Do you really think the casting call was for some non-specific female and Joss thought, "Oh, we've cast this woman of Asian descent, I have an idea..." I'm pretty sure that the call was for someone to play a character from China and in fact, the actor probably had a fairly clear idea of what it entailed. I think the character was designed to show the globality of slayers and they were trying as best as they could to express that as economically (time-wise) as they could.

And to me one of the greatest small roles in the show was the Chinese slayer from the Boxer Rebellion. She was in no way the stereotype of a bound-footed docile woman of that time and place.

And lastly I think it is pretty short-sighted of you to assume you are the only academic on the board and that the rest of us just assess BtVS as if "it's just a TV show".

[ edited by stakeholder on 2004-02-16 02:51 ]
phlebotinin - (blwessels -- I think that mel meant the Korean (?) exchange student on Sixteen Candles, a character that I think was a racist stereotype).

Yeah, I know the character, my point was that he was portrayed as drinking like crazy and wanting sex all the time and yes he was stereotyped with his name and his comments but it does not compare to the scenes with the character on Buffy. Sorry I didn't clear that up when I wrote my comment.
blwessels -- got it! I realized my error and edited my reply to you out of my post. You did make it clear. I was the one who got it muddled.....sorry 'bout that.

stakeholder -- darn right there are a lot of academics on this board. And you're right, those who aren't academics aren't less than.
yes, I think that's what this reaction is, Mel. You've made a point of "credentialling" yourself. We now know you're going to be "teaching" people Buffy studies. And further, you've stated what seems to be at least part of an agenda or a mindset, that you believe JW's treatment of minorities is troubling.

You pick for an example, not "it's me only shirt:" Kendra, which might have more people agreeing with you, but the Chinese potential. And you state that double-otherness used in a scene played for laughs is troubling.

You've also intimated that if we only would settle down and think straight for a minute and get past our "Just a tv show ideology" that we would agree with you.

And I think what we're doing is saying that we wouldn't

and I hope that when examing Buffy as an icon, you might have your students discuss whether it's damaging that said icon is a classicly attractive, painfully thin, blonde white woman.

[ edited by jeebs on 2004-02-16 03:19 ]
Phlebotinin - No problem!

[ edited by blwessels on 2004-02-16 02:59 ]
"If you're not able to see this, if you simply fall back on the "it's just a TV show" ideology, than you certainly don't see Buffy or Angel as the pop culture phenomenon, or 'icon,' that Whedon created."

And if the Chinese slayer was here, she'd think the whole arguement was da xiang bao la du zi. You know, inbetween eating canine chow mein, working in a paddy field and having seventeen kids...
Mel, as an Asian-American, I completely disagree with your assertion that Joss has treated minorities unfairly on Buffy or Angel. I don't think the Chinese slayer in Season 7 was stereotypical at all...she was just a minor character just like the other potentials. The fact of the matter is that many citizens from Bejing do not speak English. This is not a misconception it's just fact. As far as Gunn, his character is completely developed and not at all the "token black guy". You should look at Smallville for an example of that. Angel has admirably dealt with Gunn's internal conflict of being a black man living in a white world. In addition, this season is subtly dealing with the dilemma African-Americans face when they become too successful (and unjustly labeled as sell-outs). To insinuate that Joss Whedon is disrespectful of minorities is as ridiculous as when fans called him homophobic for killing off Tara. If you want to fight racism, be smart and pick on the real perpetrators of hate.

As far as your apparent distaste for the Spike character, I would claim that James Marsters and his role is a major reason why many fans watched both shows. Spike is by far one of the most interesting supporting characters on both Buffy and Angel. He is an extremely gifted actor whose character is incredibly popular. Say what you want, but we wouldn't even have been blessed with a fifth season of Angel, if it were not for the Spike character.

[ edited by mai on 2004-02-16 06:11 ]
Mai makes a good point about Gunn. And Joss Whedon does cover Sunnydale's lack of African Americans with Mr Trick's comments about not being many of his persuasion back in season 3 to show he (Joss) was aware of the lack. But I have two questions: Why was it so common for people to speak Chinese in Firefly when I saw perhaps only one Asian in 13 episodes? And why were there so few Latinos in Sunnydale and Angel's LA when there are so many in real-life California? As an African American fan of Joss's shows, I sometimes wondered about the lack of "color" when there should have been some.
Yes very well said Mai.

Using the chinese slayer from S7 as this 'atrocious example' of racial stereotyping is weak to say the least. The girl simply didn't speak english. That's all. She was quite normal and portrayed as such. The laughs, as stated were purely played on the characters around her. Giles and Andrew came across as being silly and goofy, not her.

And as Mai pointed out, Gunn is one of the few strong black characters out there. 'Pete Ross' from Smallville is indeed a far better example of a token best black friend that may actually get a line every now and then.

Also, Mel, despite your rather forced attempts to convince people of your academic credentials, and your rather insulting insinuations that people who disagree with you are simply not looking past the 'only a tv show notion (otherwise they obviousy would agree with you) I think there's more than a few points in there that show your own preferences as a fan color your argument a bit.

Your dislike for Spike for one. Joss' devotion to Spike? Please. Spike is one of the most popular characters of the Buffyverse and it was simply good sense to bring him over. And if anything the ratings were up from last season. When new characters are introduced the attention will go to them a bit yes. Just like when Connor was introduced.

And Cordelia treated with disrespect is also something I never saw. The fact she wasn't mentioned in the last episode is probably more due to the downplay-continuity order from the WB. If she had died in any of the eariler seasons it would have been discussed in depth by the other characters and we all know it.

You love Cordy, you dislike Spike. We got it. If had been the other way around you'd be complaining Spike got too little screen time and that Cordy should've been written out a season ago. As it is not the other way around, you say the things you say now. It is not argumentative reasoning, it is simply taste.
Everyone speaking in Chinese on Firefly was based on a theory Joss had. In that 'verse, the Earth was gone and humanity had to seek new homes on other planets/moons. Because of this, cultures got mixed up or squished together. Mandarin was just one way of illustrating that. The main government on the show, The Alliance, even had a flag that was basically just the American flag pasted on to the Chinese one. You can also notice that many of the extras were Asian, and if they weren't, many of the characters wore different kinds of traditional Asian clothing.

The wardrobe on that show was definitely eclectic. In one room, there could be people in kimonos, Nehru jackets, Western gear, classical ballgowns, and Hawaiian shirts.
I'm so glad so many people have joined this discussion. Everyone's so shockingly articulate for a bunch of yokels who do nothing but wallow in the "it's just a TV show" mentality--who'd of thunk?

I have had some thoughts before on the issues that Keith brought up and though they're not well-formed I want to put them down to see if people have similar or other thoughts. I'm not surprised at all on the whiteness of Sunnydale because there are any number of wealthy white communities in California that are essentially barred to people of color. The decision to place the show in such a community is one that does bother me though I agree that there was some effort to address it in seasons 3 and 4.

Los Angeles is of course a different matter. I have been perplexed at the lack of Latinos they seem to encounter--even though LA is extremely segregated it strikes me as odd that demons and vampires and bad guys never seem to cause trouble in Latino areas. My thought on it though is this: I wonder how much of it is really lack of sensitivity on Joss's part and how much of it may be a conscious decision not to have this heroic white guy coming in and saving the minority folk who couldn't take care of themselves? Not to do anything that resembles the Great White Hope myth? I don't really know that is what's going on there but based on his general world view I do wonder.

I would prefer to see more integration of the focal characters but I think that the network has a lot of say on what actors get what roles so I don't know that he has had so much freedom. But then I have to wonder if I'm making excuses...
I am just as sad as the next person that Angel has been cancelled by the evil network execs at the WB however, I choose to look at the positive of what can come out of this. I can't help but wonder if this will change SMG's mind about appearing on Angel this season? And what of the other players, Nick, Alison, Tony, Charisma, Eliza. This drastically changes things in my mind. Not wanting to do the show so soon after your own series ends or because you are taking time with your family is one thing but, not coming over for one last hurrah in what will be the last season ever of a buffyverse show is another. I mean you would think they would almost want to do this for Joss. Rally to his aide and make the best finale ever. That is what I am hoping for!
Well, she's currently working on a movie in Japan so that would make it hard. Also, they only have four more episodes to film so and Joss has made it sound like those scripts are already written. He is sticking to his original plan for the season. They just wrapped up Charisma's character so I doubt they'd try to stick her in another episode when they just killed her off. Alyson is doing a play in England and I don't know how long it is supposed to run for. Eliza has her own show on Fox but maybe because it's Fox and they own the rights to Angel they'll let her do a guest appearance. That would be nice. It would be great to just see any of them but I don't know how logical it is if they have only four more episodes left to film.
On the lack of Latino representation in Angel: there hasn't been enough, I agree. Los Angeles? Come on! I'm not sure whether Joss et al have given it the degree of thought that stakeholder ascribes to them, but maybe. One bit of evidence that they've been thinking about it was the episode "Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco." Those five brothers were Champions, true heroes, and they were fighting for their community when others wouldn't. It was only one episode but it did crack open the lid on an as yet unopened box and address the questions of where are all the Latinos? Why haven't they been represented? Who's going to fight for them? The answer seemed to point to the extreme segregation of L.A. in the past and present and that even though all the same demony stuff has been going on in Latino communities, they have had their own brave champions whose heroics been ignored by other communities.

My thoughts on this are still a bit disordered. Must think more. The general topic of representation in the Whedonverse is fascinating and is well worth addressing. This is a great thread. I'm enjoying reading everyone's comments. Stakeholder's right, there are a lot of great thinkers and writers on this board.
I'm sure someone has said this before... but it's an important point: Much of the time, Whedonverse shows have dealt with human differentness metaphorically rather than literally. On Angel specifically, the protagonist has continually struggled with the question of how to live among humans when he isn't human. This season has added an interesting wrinkle to that situation, as there's now another character who's like him. For all of Angel and Spike's issues with each other, they actually understand one another better than anyone else, and some of my favorite moments this season have been the interactions between them.

It's true that Latinos and other minorities have been generally underrepresented on Angel, but the core group of characters is fairly diverse for television. Fred had a Latina mother, there's Gunn of course, and Lorne is, well, green. :)

And a word on the "it's only a TV show" phrase... speaking just for myself, when I say that to other viewers, I don't mean the story shouldn't be taken seriously. I'm warning them against the unhealthy over-identification with the characters that I see so much of. For what it's worth...
i definately think they should do anything they can to get at least sarah michelle gellar for the finale( i mean anything)..........i mean the whole, angel/spike/buffy thing is the biggest thing i think i need closure on.............the whole thing started with buffy so it should end with buffy

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