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December 09 2004

(SPOILER) New York Post article about The O.C. with some mentions of Buffy. Be warned, this article may annoy a fair few of you. (contains OC spoilers, not Whedonverse)

Howard Stern had it right a few years ago when he said that "lesbians equal ratings" ó the audience for "Buffy" shot when Alyson Hannigan's character Willow began a relationship with Tara, another witch (played by Amber Benson).

Of course, that's why there was Willow's lesbian relationship, it was all about ratings. (How I wish there was an eye rolling emoticon.)

That totally explains why they went down a story route the way they did, annoying a certain groupe of their fanbase and doing a long-term love story which rarely felt the need to go onto girl on girl sex (heck the first kiss occured in "The Body") it was all some clever scheme for ratings.

Isn't it funny how there can't be a lesbian character added without someone crying foul. And the moment one is killed people call out homophobia. It seems you can't do anything right on TV anymore.

Hmm and did ratings even shoot up when it happened, if I remember correctly season 4 ratings were lower than season 2/3.

[ edited by rabid on 2004-12-09 17:29 ]
I completely agree rabid. Do we actually know if the ratings did go up at that point? If so it was probably more to do with the quality of the episodes (Tara of course being introduced in Hush and Willow admitting she wanted to be with Tara in New Moon Rising which of course had the return of big fan favourite Oz) As rabid mentioned, the first time they actually kiss on screen was The Body.

This article annoyed me quite a lot and I almost didn't link to it, but I thought I'd allow others to judge it for themselves.

Edited to comment on rabid's edit. I thought s4 ratings were lower than s3 as well, but wasn't sure so I didn't say so explicitly.

[ edited by Paul_Rocks on 2004-12-09 17:34 ]
Actually the most annoying thing about this article for me is that it has led to that damn O.C. show infecting Whedonesque!

Like it isn't massively overexposed as it is, not to mention overrated!!!

Sorry, i've had an irrational hatred of all rich kid teen dramas ever since Beverly Hills 90210! :)
Well, while Willow/Tara wasn't entirely for ratings, Joss DID realize that it would help get more people watching. Specifically, young men and lesbians. If he was overly concerned with the ratings, though, he wouldn't have killed Tara off in season six.

But the addition of the Willow/Tara storyline... yeah. You can't completely discount the ratings spike. Comparing it to a ratings stunt though, goes a bit far. There's quite a difference between a dedicated lesbian relationship and two girls that decide to kiss randomly.
Damn, you posted a spoiler. Please save the next O.C.-watching person and re-word your subject line in such a way that it isn't a spoiler, and put a "Spoiler for the O.C," tag on, please.

I'm still several weeks behind in trying to catch up on O.C. episodes and I didn't particularly want to be spoiled.
Why does it always have to be the girls that decide to kiss? Too bad Larry died on graduation day.
It is true ratings for Buffy were on a pretty steady decline after Season 3 (only shooting up again with the premiere of Season 6). Looking over the ratings (this is where I'm getting my info), I don't really see anything to suggest that they went up with anything having to do with Willow & Tara. In fact the ratings for Season 4 are higher in the first half than in the second, when Tara was around. (Although that's a general trend for all seasons - for the ratings to be higher at the beginning than at the end of the previous season but to steadily decline throughout the season, and going up again a little for the finale.)
A long time again I made a chart graphing the national nielsen ratings, if anyone's interested in taking a peek.
Sorry chickenbird, it never even occured to me since I, like Senior Partner, despise all standard teen dramas. I have editted the offending lines and added a spoiler warning now.
There's quite a difference between a dedicated lesbian relationship and two girls that decide to kiss randomly.

I agree with Amberina. The thing is (IMO) there is a big difference in a show advertising two female characters are going to kiss as a means to get viewership, and writers writing a loving caring relationship which really didn't show any graphiclly sexy interactions (Wollow & Tara doing the spell was about as steamy as it got). Tara and Willow never had any real pasionate lesbian kissage.

Willow did get hotter sexy scenes with Kennedy in the last season, tounge action in the kisses, but this is not specifically what the reviewer is refering to and btw Buffy never advertised lesbian kisses as a means to get viewership when other shows on around the same time did - I remember commercials, and didn't Sarah guest star on a show where they advertised a big girl-on-girl kiss where Sarah was one of the girls?

[ edited by Passion on 2004-12-09 19:28 ]
Thanks for posting that graph, forcorreo. Quite interesting to get an audience snapshot for the series as a whole. Course, I don't give a crap about viewing figures unless and until they're endangering the survival of a show. Otherwise I would grow terminally depressed from seeing that some of the best episodes (e.g. Innocence) of one of the best-ever TV Shows ranked no higher than 85th out of 118 for the week they were first shown . . . ye gods. How could there possibly have been 84 better viewing options? Enough - down that path lies madness.

"Joss DID realize that it would help get more people watching. Specifically, young men and lesbians." Amberina, where do you get this info from? I've never read anything by Joss that sounds like this.

Passion: I think that was Grosse Pointe Blank with the SMG girl-on-girl kissage.
If this had been any other show, I would have been mad about the lack of spoiler tag. But although I watched the entire first season of The O.C., I am not very invested in it. The writing is at times very poor, a lot of the acting is atrocious (not by all of the actors, but a lot of them), and the story lines are usually weak.

I do, however, love the comic-book-geek references, and the dialogue is often very witty. Peter Gallagher and Adam Brody are a pleasure to watch, but the overall weaknesses are too distracting.

I'm amused by this attempt to score ratings using Mischa Barton's character in a "controversial" but titilating lesbian storyline. Please. It's not going to be sexy, it's not going to be compelling, because Mischa Barton can't act her way out of a paper bag, and she certainly hasn't shown that she has romantic chemistry with anyone. I don't think she can pull this off. Now, a gay scene between Adam Brody and Ben McKenzie would be hot. It would even work thematically. They should go there instead, but this stunt is not about "gay awareness", it's about lesbian titilation. And that's pretty pathetic.

[ edited by electricspacegirl on 2004-12-09 19:41 ]
Grosse Pointe Blank... I don't think she was even in that. The movie I remember with Sarah and girl on girl kissing was Cruel Intentions. I remember that scene quite well (yes young male here lol.)

Willow/Tara never seemed like a stunt, and neither did Willow/Kennedy, even though that relationship didn't work for me. The sexiest scenes were near the end for Willow/Tara, and it kind of added to the blow of her death.

The sexiest Willow/Kennedy scene was in Touched, and was part of an equally sexy montage, (didn't Marti once say that she pushed for girl on girl sex just to show it equal to the graphic heterosexual sex.)

But I don't think the level of kissage is what should matter here. Tara/Willow was a relationship, a real one on the show, as real as any other. That is not a stunt.

Willow/Kennedy to ME was damage control, that's not a stunt either, it's just an unfortunate story device.
SNT - Thanks I couldn't remember which show it was but they had commercials on and from what I remember, it was pretty heavy advertising all about the big girl/girl kiss.

I forget these things fast because, as a woman who is straight, seeing two woman kiss is not an incentive to get me to watch a show. If they want me to watch hire David or James, oh and have a good script too - even with James I can't stomach The Mountian.
Rabid - I may be wrong but I remember Sarah doing a guest appearance on a TV show that had a girl/girl kiss - this wasn't a movie...maybe I'm just old and my mind is going.
Cruel Intentions girl on girl kiss was pretty heavily advertised on TV.

Oh and Grosse Pointe Blank wasn't a show, it was a movie starring John Cusack.

:) Maybe you're right though I sure havn't seen everything Sarah did.
She was however on a show called "Grosse Pointe" minus the blanke (saw it on her IMDB profile, so maybe it was just a typo on SNT's part.

Added Note: A quick Yahoo search shows that SNT is right, on Grosse Pointe there was that girl on girl Sarah Michelle Gellar kiss. Just the Blank threw me as it automaticly brought to mind the film.

[ edited by rabid on 2004-12-09 19:53 ]
The tv show that SMG guested in was called Grosse Pointe not Grosse Pointe Blank, which is where the confusion has come from. I've never seen the show myself, though I have seen clips of Sarah's role.

Edit: Written as you posted rabid.

[ edited by Paul_Rocks on 2004-12-09 19:55 ]
Blech. Publicity stunt. The OC is a beer commercial with less acting ability from the cast. It is offensive to include Tara and Willow's relationship to this crap.
Thanks Paul_Rocks, I had just gotten that as you had :) Nice of you to help clear that up.
Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Blank - who can keep 'em all straight? My typo, my bad. :) But I remember the smooch well.

(added) And, gosh, I certainly didn't mean to provoke a deluge of postings about this - just trying to help out Passion. Never a good deed goes unpunished, and all that . . . ;)

[ edited by SoddingNancyTribe on 2004-12-09 19:58 ]
I don't know. Do any males on here get pulled in by these kinds of stunts. I mean I have nothing against girl on girl smoochies, but I'm not seeking it out to fulfill some television need.

I saw Cruel Intentions because a friend rented it, not cause of the lesbian make-out session. I watch Willow/Tara cause it was a realistic relationship. It's just I guess I don't see the appeal of turning on something like the OC just to get some kissage.

Then again it seems there are quite a few people who turn on something like Star Trek Voyager to watch Seven of Nine in her catsuit, maybe it's just me.

OT Note: Sorry SNT, I just got confused. :)

[ edited by rabid on 2004-12-09 20:02 ]
Thanks everyone for remembering the show and the kiss - it's nice to know my mind still works correctly sometimes. I was beginning to think I should check myself in for some evaulation because I am remembering things that totally didn't happen!
all i know is that the OC does not even compare to Buffy.......and i am insulted that the article even mentioned Buffy and the OC in the same sentence. Buffy is an intellegent show with wonderful actors....the OC is a painfully stupid teen drama with some of the worst acting I have ever seen.(except Adam Brody, who I loved on Gilmore girls).

And to say Willow and Tara's relationship was a ratings stunt is just plain wrong. A almost 2 season relationship is not a stunt...but having there character make out with a girl in one episode is just lame......oh being a lesbian is hip lets have our main girl try it.......i would think that would be insulting to lebsians, who are truly in love with there partners.........grrrrrrrrr i hate the oc....since the day i even heard about it. mainly because NO ONE that lives in Orange County(i have lived here all my almost 29 years)..and no one calls it THE OC.......it is just plain old oc..and orange county........sigh!! bygones!

[ edited by SillyD on 2004-12-09 20:50 ]
The girl/girl thing isn't a big draw for me (straight male), thats probably because I know a lot of lesbian couples, are while they're for the most part very good friends they aren't the kind of people I would want to observe during a makeout session.

ON a somewhat related note. Did anyone else order the Tara/Willow action figure set from Cinequest. I got mine today. I'm not too impressed with the sculpting or paintjob...
Out of all the new shows of the past few years (say, after AtS started), The O.C. is my favorite. I just love it. It has some of the funniest dialogue ever. I laugh at it harder than any other show that's on the air right now.
mr goat........i order the tara/willow figures, my should hopefully be here any day now.....are they really that bad??
i am not too impressed with the anya's (i have gotten all of them except my demon one,she is coming with tara/willow). the anya's scare me alittle bit.....hmmm, all the willows look great......i love my tara's but i think they could have been better also.hmmm...waiting very impatiently for my figures.
I agree with you Storyteller, The O.C. is an excellent show and has some of the best dialogue on television. According to creator Josh Schwartz, this plot point was planned out long before ratings for season 2 ever came in, and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt to see how the storyline plays out.

That being said, it is completely ridiculous to compare it to Buffy. I don't think Buffy's ratings ever went up due to a lesbian kiss, and Joss intentionally "hid" the first kiss within The Body to make sure it wouldn't become a ratings event.
I also happen to like the O.C., it's not Buffy fantastic, but it's a good funny, sometimes well written show. Also Adam Brody and Peter Gallagher alone make up for Ben Mackenize and Mischa Barton's terrible acting.
The article never suggests that BtVS introduced a lesbian relationship for the sake of ratings, so I'm not sure why you're arguing against that notion. It merely says that ratings were raised as a result of that relationship (and maybe they did, I don't know).

Either way, this is the New York Post, and quite possibly the only publication that manages to be worse than the Daily Mirror and other British tabloids when it comes to ridiculous, sensalationist "news" coverage. There's a fairly high chance that everything in the article is fabricated.

Salt. Pinch. Take.
Xkot: Why does it always have to be the girls that decide to kiss? Too bad Larry died on graduation day.

For some reason, girl-on-girl-action seems to turn guys on. Women are either turned on or just don't care much. Guys kissing guys.. well, I don't know any woman who particularly wants to see that, and most men freak out and avoid seeing it (generalizing).
The O.C. has mostly female viewers, I guess the producers would like to attract more male viewers.

As for the article.. did these people even *watch* BtVS..?
As I recall, the whole Willow-turning-gay-thing has been mentioned as the moment Buffy jumped the shark (if jumped at all). You can hardly call that a ratings stunt.
I believe someone said that the Willow/Tara relationship was never that hot on TV, that it was pretty tame. I'd have to agree yet disagree, if you read b/t the lines in OMWF the bedroom scene was extremly hot "...spread beneath my willow tree...you come.....plete..." with Willows head out of the picture. That was hot. Also i would have to say that the Kennedy/Willow love scene near the end of season 7 was very hot as well.
Guys kissing guys.. well, I don't know any woman who particularly wants to see that

Oh, I think there might be a few.
Oh, I think there might be a few.

I'm sure there are women who do want to see guys kissing guys but probally not a large enough demographic for a TV show that wants ratings to go after. I know it wouldn't interest me, or to the best of my knowledge, any of my female friends.
"Guys kissing guys.. well, I don't know any woman who particularly wants to see that."

Well, I'm a woman and sometimes I think it's all kinds of hot. I know many more that feel the same. Fan fiction *started* with slash, so I'm guessing there's a demographic out there. And TV makers use it, what with the 'hoyay' left right and centre.

One of the things The O.C. and Buffy have in common is that both have adult characters that are believabe and well rounded. I love the show, although this season isn't grabbing me as much as last year's and I agree Micha Barton should just go. Everybody else is doing a fine job, I think - especially Brody and Gallagher. First season O.C. had two men kissing, by the way.

Paul_rocks, I edited your headline once more for spelling and general not making things clear.

A lot of posts have bad spelling recently. Please run your stuff through a spell checker if you're unsure of your spelling abilities. Everybody makes the odd mistake, but just try to make an effort, thanks.
is this a classroom, who cares about spelling?
Talking of spelling, I loved the typo in the ColdDeadSeed link, re James in the tuxedo - "James' sexy voice melted our brians" indeed. Heh heh.
Well, the classroom aside, many people still find that correct spelling aids in communication because the chances of misunderstanding, ambiguity, and nonsense are reduced. It's a hoary old tradition, but one that whedonesquers seem to find appealing. Personally, I rather like grammar too, but I suppose we can't ask for the moon . . .

And my alternative response would be: it's Caroline's board. If she wants people to make an effort to spell correctly, my advice would be, make an effort to spell correctly.
"Do any males on here get pulled in by these kinds of stunts?"

Of course not. I am deeply offended by the stereotype that the only thing men think about is sex.

Now when does this episode air? I need to make sure I have a blank videotape ready.
Another reason for good spelling is that if you make a spelling mistake, it's harder for someone for whom English is a second language to understand. If they don't know a word, they can't run it through an online translator if there are errors.
SillyD, people who want to understand what each other are saying care about the spelling.
Hannigan has said in interview that the intention, and I would have to assume it was the discussed intention--was to play this as two people, two souls, who found themselves drawn to each other and needed to complete the experience in a romantic way.

That certainly is the way it was played and I imagine why it became such a well loved relationship in the verse. It took the notion of being a lesbian right out of the stereotype of titillating experimentation and brought it into the real and once again Joss should be applauded for that. And because it was treated with respect; the characters had resonance--and for this very reason, I never felt that Tara's murder was 'punishment' for loving a woman.

Because the development of the characters was treated with such respect, and were not stereotypical, Joss wasn't bound to PC restraints. BTVS, it seemed to me, to be telling a great story, not producing an afterschool special where all the elements needed to be controlled (as they ought to be for such projects) for young viewers and PC considerations.

The Tara and Willow storyline was the best gift to give to people making free will choices for any kind of orientation. And as equals in the storyline, part of that meant they were to be treated with the same considerations as any other character in the verse. In BTVS--that means being in danger for your life and soul.

This was a powerful storyline with great risk that could have gone any which way for him--and who in a froth of seeking ratings would tell STORY. People going for ratings and only ratings seem to go for the quick payoff and glory glam slam of it.

And here, I gotta add my voice to others and say: I don't 'get' woman on woman kissage for the pretty pose of it, I just don't get it and I don't get guys kissing guys either for the quick payoff pose of it--UNLESS, unless both situations are part of a character arc...and I've come to care about these people and want to see them happy. But no way am I gonna tune in JUST to see two actors of the same sex smack the fleshy bits of their lips.

I guess it will always be a case of different strokes for different folks...but this kinda of stuff always puzzles me...and...does anyone else get the notion that folks like Howard Stern might enjoy might enjoy the visual of girl on girl...but might not necessarily want the women to BE lesbian? Almost like: 'be this for me and my gratification but don't be you for yours' (?)

Hence the OC Postscript citing 'experimentation'; almost like a disclaimer of some kind.

Again you have to give credit to Joss--when BTVS went for it--they made it real for the characters and when you do that, how can it be only about ratings and tweaking the audience?

The BTVS storyline never felt like gratifying me as the audience member...it was all about gratifying Tara and Willow. Willow taking a stand that might put her on the outs with friends and family...having the courage to gratify herself. This wasn't about me or what I wanted them to be or do; this was all about them.

I mean, I'm not angry or anything, I guess the hard edge of expectation of what TV can provide and how savy I can expect the post game analysis to be has been worn down over the years, but I don't see how Tara and Willow can possible compare to posing pretty girls with glossy lips in a pic for the perk.

Strange.
I'm sure I've contributed my fair share of nasty spelling errors. I just tend to type quickly and post immediately. I study literature at the moment, and all the constant grammar correction has driven me to rebel after class lol.

I'll make sure to at least do a quick check over my spelling in the future.
BforBeth, I find television is so saturated with ratings stunts that it's nearly impossible for many critics and casual viewers to differentiate an honest arc and a ratings grab. When you have the watchful eyes of both entertainment journalists looking for some simple hook to talk about on Entertainment Tonight and "fans" who are in a constant search for episodes they don't enjoy to be the first to say that no, beer bad was the episode Buffy jumped the shark, it's hard to let in real art.

It reminded me a little of after the death of Tara. You had several groups. You had those who stated that it was a good storytelling device and a progression of the theme (me), those who felt emotionally shattered, but remained within the world and finally those who swore about homophobia and declared the fact that Mutant Enemy were just trying to kill the gay character.

Automatically the storytelling just transforms into a basic hook, the gay character was killed, and all of the context and characterization felt lost.

Often when reading these types of things that is a bit how I feel, like someone is ripping apart the fabric of this fiction to find a base hook they imagine exists. It feels a bit like disrespect of the material.

Maybe Iím just overreacting, I donít know. Heck I don't even know if what I said will make sense to anyone else lol :).

(Added Note)- Just to be clear I'm talking about the Whedonverse here, not TV in general. Usually I can see the basic hook as plain as day. However I think Joss' stories are much deeper than that.

[ edited by rabid on 2004-12-09 23:45 ]
On this interview on out.com http://66.161.86.126/detail.asp?id=8640 the creator of OC says its not a ratings stunt. I like the show but I find it hard to believe unless this is a long term storyline and not just a one-off.
The suggestion that the lesbian storyline in BtVS was included simply as a way to increase ratings is not only ludicrous but, I would contend, extremely offensive to Joss Whedon and everyone else involved in the making of the show.

Moving on from that, without knowing anything about 'The O.C.', if more shows follow the example of BtVS and deal with lesbian relationships, doing so in a responsible and realistic way, it is a very good thing and should be commended. There is far too much prejudice in this world.

One final thought... spelling and grammar? It helps.
The Willow/Tara relationship was probably the only one ive ever seen not used as a ratings device. They went out of their way(or at least seem to) to suggest things rather than force them at you and concentrated on two people in a relationship rather than two girls getting sweaty for an episode or two.
Talking of spelling, I loved the typo in the ColdDeadSeed link, re James in the tuxedo - "James' sexy voice melted our brians" indeed.

Not a typo, an inside joke. There was a poster who used to try to insult people by saying they had "half a brian" and "should get their brians checked."

But no way am I gonna tune in JUST to see two actors of the same sex smack the fleshy bits of their lips.

That's how I feel when I see ads promoting two actors of different sexes smacking the fleshy bits of their lips, too, but those kinds of ads have been around forever, without provoking much comment. Apparently sex sells, which is why so many ads feature it heavily, only now it's expanded to include gay sex as well as hereto. I'm not sure I see the difference.
Actually I feel the same way about hetero smacking without story substance as well...does nothing for me--story behind any sexual situation is what I find appealing. Sorry, thought I had implied that.
Paul_rocks, I edited your headline once more for spelling and general not making things clear.

A lot of posts have bad spelling recently. Please run your stuff through a spell checker if you're unsure of your spelling abilities. Everybody makes the odd mistake, but just try to make an effort, thanks.


Sorry Caroline, thanks for the edit. I don't even know what you changed so I'm just going to assume it was a typo on my part and apologise :)
I hate that. Only for ratings? Sure, fine, whatever ¨¨
Eh, barely can even call it an 'article'. Simplistic generalization from someone who doesn't know what he's talking about. Joss took a chance with the Willow/Tara thing because she was established as straight and by now the W/T'ship' has been deemed a 'classic' but at the time, when it started, no one wanted it. And others have already pointed out there was no ratings change. And please, ratings where never the reason Joss did it. He was willing to quit over the 'first kiss' episode for pete's sake. And at the same time, that kiss was deliberatedly left out of the trailers for that ep. Not really a cheap ploy for ratings then is it? But then most internet TV 'reporters' prefer to not get confused by such annoying things like facts.

And I never saw a full ep of the OC so I can't really comment, but I can't say I'm dying to see it either. Literally each and every one of those shows smells of 'Dawson's Creek' a little too much for my tastes. I can barely even tell the difference between them all when looking at their trailers.

And sorry but I don't see anything in here that suggests anything other than that in the OC's case this really is a weak attempt to bump the ratings.
Well, tonight's episode of THE O.C. just happened to have a lesbian kiss between Olive Wilde and another girl. Not in a romantic way, but just her trying to make Brody's character jealious.

So I don't see why they make a big deal out of Marissa becoming lesbian as a plotline, they've already had a male/male kiss, and a female/female kiss.

Oh well.
@Paul_rocks: cool, thanks. It saves myself and Simon lots of work!
@SoddingNancyTribe (and others chipping in): thanks for taking care of that while I was asleep :-) Ah, glorious sleep. So little time for it.
@SillyD: Not a class room, but we're a class site. I suggest you check our 'about' page, it's got a nifty set of guidelines for the use of it!

We're not going to be barking as hard if there are mistakes in the body of a post or comments down the thread. Headlines, though, attempt to make them error free.

Oh, we just got a complaint from someone that edited posts are misleading to those who use RSS readers to follow the site: every time a post changes, they are notified there's a new headline. Which is unfortunate. The best way to remedy is to make all posts perfect from the start ;-)

'Course our main reason for the spelling rule is to try and make Amber Benson appreciate the internet a little more...
SillyD: Spelling also matters to those of us whose first language is not English and who find it difficult enough to understand the different usage of words or expressions in UK English as compared to American English. No need to make it harder for us, running a spell check is an easy and, might I add, courteous thing to do.
I use the google toolbar if there's a word I'm not sure about. Just type the word in and if it's wrong its says "Did you mean:" etc.
I don't think for an instant that Joss wrote this scene, or any other scene for that matter, for ratings. He wrote it because he felt that was where the story needed to go. Willow was breaking down emotionally and the kiss was Tara's love and support. Simple as that and perfectly understandable. Joss had quite a fight with the WB over this matter. They felt a lesbian kiss was a little too hot for TV. Joss had to explain to them that it had nothing to do with the fact they were lesbians. It was about Willow falling apart because of Joyce's death and Tara was helping her through it. The point these type of articles tend to miss is that Joss never made an issue of having lesbian characters on the show. That wasn't the point. It was the story of their relationship that mattered to him. And it was a beautiful story. It will always be about the story with Joss.
I'll never understand people that claimed killing Tara was homophobia. If they were so homophobic they wouldn't have written a loving lesbian relationship so beautifully in the first place...

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