Wednesday, February 13, 2013

30 Days of Buffy and Feminism Day 5

Day 5: Least Favorite Female Character

This one is really hard.  one thing that Buffy does really well, at least feminism-wise, is making good female characters with strong story arcs.  The male characters...well, that's another story that I'll write about over the next two days.  But seriously, I actually had to make a bracket for this one and even then I wasn't satisfied with my choice.  So I'm going to go with a kind of obvious choice.

Amy Madison
Honorable mentions go to Harmony Kendall (she's just so annoying), Maggie Walsh (probably won't be if her story arc hadn't been truncated) and the villain that Mrs. Landingham from The West Wing plays in "Where The Wild Things Are".  Also, I wanted to write this peace on Dark Willow of the last three episodes of season 6 but I was told by several people that she can't actually be separated from Willow as a whole.

Amy isn't just boring, she's kind of problematic.  We see her first in the third episode of the entire series where her mother--a former beauty queen wanting to revisit her glory days--uses witchcraft to switch bodies with Amy.  She shows up again on a number of occasions, using magic to turn herself into a rat to avoid being burned at the stake in "Gingerbread" and then continuing to be that rat for three years.  Willow keeps her for all of that time and finally brings her back to human form after Willow and Tara break up.  Then, with no real reason whatsoever, Amy becomes friends with a magic "dealer" and tempts Willow back into using magic.  After Willow finally says they can't do any of those things anymore she casts a spell on Willow in Season 7 that drives the plot for an episode.

And that's the thing--Amy doesn't really exist past the third season as anything other than a joke or a plot device.  She has little motivation, is not really characterized, but is somehow evil despite being portrayed as a sympathetic character during the high school years.  Then again, being turned into a rat might do that to you.

There are lots of characters that are used for plot devices but most of them aren't supposed to have an "arc" or as much screen time as Amy does.  I feel like the audience is supposed to care about her but I just really can't find it in me.  She clearly had a difficult childhood--dad that left, crazy mom--but we don't really get to see any of that come to fruition in a meaningful way.  Which is disappointing--I think a lot could have been done here.  I guess you can't develop every side character.

This is a short one for today because...well, there's not all that much more to say.  Trust me, the treatises I'm going to write in the next two days will definitely make up for it.  Tomorrow is Favorite Male Character.  I'm sure a lot of you can hazard guesses on my selection.  


  1. I thought the worst character was the one from Inca Mummy Girl. That episode was so racist.

    1. That's a really good point. I do plan to devote a lot of time to racial issues in Buffy in later posts--women of color are treated pretty badly on this show when they exist at all--so I'll definitely review that episode. Thanks!