I read once at a B/A shipper board, that other ships love one half of the ship and hate the other, e.g. that C/A shippers love Cordelia and think she should be worshipped by everyone, and Angel is just the guy filling those shoes, or that B/S shippers worship Spike and hate Buffy. The person who posted this claimed that B/A shippers are above that, that we love Buffy and Angel equally. That's not true anymore.
After the shows split, the creators made a deliberate effort to separate the shows in order to give Ats breathing room. B/A stopped being about forbidden love, and stated being about the fighting that comes in the aftermath of forbidden love that's denied.
Buffy's character bore the brunt of the disfigurement. Gone was the radiant hero who would do anything for the people she loved. And more importantly, someone whose instincts and judgements about people were good. Season 1-3 Buffy did the right thing. In Season 1 she embraced her calling even though it wrecked her burgeoning social life, and she sacrificed her life to save the world (and because Willow was upset). In Season 2, she killed Angel to save the world. In Season 3, she almost killed herself to save Angel. Among other things. Most importantly, she did the right thing without abusing the moral high ground. She did what a hero does, without acting snooty about it. A really winsome combination for me.
In Season 4, we began to see a tight-assed morally superior buffy who did abuse the moral high ground and was certainly portrayed as being dictatorial. Even Willow starts to rebel against Buffy's "bossiness." This fun trend built slowly from Season 4 to Season 7, where it came into full and annoying bloom. But in terms of the B/A dynamic in BtVS 4/Ats 1, Buffy definitely came across as the shallow, hurtful, self-centered bitca. And Angel, conveniently, only said hurtful things in response to bitchy Buffy's hurtful stings.
It's useful to note here, that when ASH left to get his own BBC spin-off, Buffy's character took a similar beating. Giles didn't leave because he was a bad watcher. He didn't abandon Buffy. Giles left because Buffy was bad; she deserved it. No wonder the B/S shippers hate Buffy and blame Buffy for everything that goes wrong. No wonder they blame her for not wanting to be with Spike. After watching the creators show us for years that Buffy doesn't the men in her life--she's too shallow and bitchy for Angel, and too immature and irresponsible for Giles--after all that, how can we blame them for thinking that Buffy should be happy with what she can get. That she doesn't deserve better.
Yup, you guessed it. It's an abusive relationship. But the victim isn't Buffy or Spike, it's the viewers.
So why is that Buffy's character takes a beating anytime one of her co-stars gets a spin-off?
I think it's clear that the creators, in their infinite wisdom, think or know that the Buffy fanbase is indefatigable. When angel split off, they weren't worried that people would stop watching Buffy. They were worried that no one would watch Angel. So bashing Angel, and making him look like a jerk for leaving wouldn't be a smart decision. They had to blame Buffy or no one. And why not no one? I would have liked that. A lot. But it wasn't in the cards for us, because if B/A had never ended, they couldn't add new love interests. And without new love interests, the shows would be codependent. So distance was needed, and it had to come out of Buffy's hide.
And if SMG stopped identifying with Buffy when Buffy stopped being likable, who could blame her? I've heard the rumors that she argued against the Parker story line, because she thought it was weak and out of character for Buffy (who among us didn't think that...and for what purpose? To try to trick us into liking Riley...cheap). SMG has a real talent for being endearing. I think plenty of actresses are prettier or have a better range, but SMG is good at making the character she plays likeable (if you don't believe me, check out Simply Irresistible--a cheezeball movie that only SMG could make enjoyable).
So maybe SMG started to phone in her lines a little; maybe she started to let the prissy lines sound prissy. But I think the blame really lies with the writers who took Buffy away. They blamed her for what went wrong between her and Angel. They made her ignore her friends, boss them around. They made her weak, and whiny and insecure. And they gave most of her snarky humor to Spike starting in Season 4.
What about my Season 1 Angel, you may ask. Isn't that what this is all about? Not really. This is really about not getting enough approval as a child, having too much time on my hands, anxiety about my upcoming exams. But sure, let's talk about Season 1 Angel. How did it kill B/A?
For starters, I finally saw IWRY. The episode B/A shippers still wet their pants over.
It's a little late in the game to be seeing it for the first time. Maybe it's too late to believe in any new (to me) B/A shippiness. But I don't care. I didn't like it. I thought the oracles were stupid and deus et machina. The snappishness between Buffy and Angel gave me a headache. The Mohra demon and its blood were cartoonish. But these are just the unimportant non-B/A parts of the episode. In terms of B/A, I was disappointed at how Angel reacted to gaining his humanity. He doesn't seek out Buffy first. He goes to his office first. He doesn't seek her out second; he raids the fridge second. He doesn't seek her out until Doyle's prodding after he sees the oracles. His explanation that he wants to make sure it's real first is fine, but I would have liked to see some indication that he wanted to see her.
Complaint # 2. The mature plan. Idiotic, and indicative that Angel leaving had more to do with fear of intimacy than anything real or noble. I mean, he wants her to be with a human, and as soon as he is one, he tries to send her packing. Sure, I know most people read that differently. But the fear and stupidity were there too, and I couldn't ignore them.
Final complaint. Angel goes after Mohra guy like an idiot. Then somehow drags his broken body to the oracle without buffy knowing about it (seems to me he couldn't crawl without help, and she was the one coddling him, so that's sketchy already).
Next thing you know, he's giving back his humanity to save Buffy. At least, that's how I've seen B/A shippers interpret it over the years. When I saw it, I was surprised to see that there was no guarantee that her fate would be different due to his sacrifice. That he thinks so is clear, but he never asks the oracles, nor does he set up shop close enough to be able to protect her. So I'm left wondering: How does him being a vamp again protect her from anything? In point of fact, in Ats Season 4 he refuses to make the deal with Lilah that will help Buffy, saying she can handle herself. He makes the deal to give Connor a better life, helping Buffy is just a side effect. So maybe things changed over the years; he fell for Cordelia and had a son and all, but still, even in Ats Season 1, he doesn't exhibit any sign of having a plan or intention of helping Buffy/saving her in any way. In s5, he visits her when her mother dies, and manages to leave her alone to die anyway.
In IWRY, Buffy accuses Angel of wanting to be a superhero rather than human (and with her, is clearly implied). And despite Angel's contradiction, I can't help but feel that she's right. He says that he can't stop being a champion, he hasn't earned redemption, they can't let down the people they protect, etc. but the upshot of that is that however noble it might have been (and on some level it was noble, or just more fear of commitment) he chose protecting the faceless masses over being with Buffy. The nobility of that choice might have been great for the dark avenging protagonist of Ats, but it sucked for Buffy & Angel.
There were some nice moments. the part where they're in bed and he's stroking her shoulder lightly. when he says we'll make another one just like it tomorrow. those were good moments. but I'm sorry, I expected more from the legendary b/a wetdream.
I have fewer complaints about B/A in "Sanctuary". Angel is trying to do the right thing; Buffy is trying to do the understandable thing. So far, so good. But how can we drive a wedge between our favorite couple? Miscommunication--a tragedy of errors. We established in "5X5" that Angel doesn't know exactly what Faith did to Buffy (the body switching, council goons, etc). He just knows that it was rough and Faith fills in later that she screwed Buffy's boyfriend. When buffy arrives, clearly mad about the violation and there to protect him, he tells her he knows what she did--presumably referring to the partial truth that Faith told him: that she slept with buffy's current beau. So he's naturally not as sympathetic as he would be if he knew the truth, and Buffy is mad because she assumes he knows and doesn't care. Plus the fact (I'm inferring) that Angel shuts out Buffy more than he would if he wasn't hurt that she's moved on with someone.
I think it's weak plot construction to motivate major characters with this kind of misunderstanding, especially when it's clear that they never plan to resolve it, that it just exists to create an artificial wedge between the characters. I mean, BtVS is over now, so the likelihood is next to nil that Buffy will ever tell Angel what Faith did, or that Xander will ever have to deal with the lie that he told in "Becoming II".
In "Sanctuary," Faith says she must be the first Slayer in history sponsored by a vampire, and Angel tells her that he has experince with that too. What? I've been thinking about this non-stop, and I feel that this too is insulting. Buffy clearly loved Angel, and he was a good supportive boyfriend (when he wasn't evil or feral or avoiding her or wounded) but sponsorhip implies that Buffy had serious problems that Angel helped her with. Like addiction. And I so didn't see that. It was just the opposite. Maybe that's what he meant; that buffy sponsored him. I hope so, but that's not the way it came across when he said it.
And again, they have Buffy lash out like a bitch at the end of "Sanctuary"--clearly just intending to hurt Angel. But in my head, I keep saying it's the writers, not them. Buffy stopped being Buffy in Season 4, and Angel stopped being Angel as soon as the show got popular enough to stand on its own--as soon they brought out the dork.
So I'm returning my Season 1 Angel tomorrow for a nice shiny copy of BtVS Season 3. I don't like the Angel vibe, though I did watch every episode. I think CC is a great comic actress, but they ruin the character when they try to insert depth. S,o I liked snarky sarcasm CC, but not the "I've learned that I want to help people," Cordy in To Shanshu in LA.
And DB? I think he does good anger, good sarcasm, GREAT buffy adoration, and good straightman humor with Cordelia. But he doesn't have good range. His emotional acting is not believable. Ultimately, my favorite eps were the ones with strong guest actors, who provided a point of entry into the episode.
More than you wanted to know? Whatever.
One more thing I want to add. Who do you side with? I'm in the Buffy camp.
I liked Angel insofar as he was a good boyfriend.
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