Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Riley Finn

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Some relationships are meant to last a lifetime. Others are meant to last a short time. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) first boyfriend after high school and Angel (David Boreanaz) was Riley Finn (Marc Blucas). Their first meeting comes during Buffy’s freshman year of college. He is the TA in her psychology class. He appears to be just a normal college student, but he is not.

He is a member of The Initiative, a military like organization whose job is to protect humanity from vampires, demons and other dangerous non-human creatures who put humanity at risk. At first, both Buffy and Riley are unaware of each other’s double lives, but they come clean eventually.

During their brief relationship, Riley learns a few things. One thing he learns is that the scooby gang is very particular as to who they let in. He also learns that not all demons are evil. After The Initiative was destroyed, Riley lost his sense of who he was, causing him to act recklessly and question his relationship with Buffy.

In the end, Riley and Buffy’s relationship ended like many relationships do. They are good when they are good, but they are not meant to last forever.

To sum it up: One of the lies that Hollywood tells audiences is that the perfect relationship is well, perfect. There is just enough drama to make the story interesting, but not enough to be realistic. This relationship will last forever and the couple in question will live happily ever after. But that is not reality.

As writers, it is up to us as to how we want to portray the couple and their relationship. However, I believe that we have a responsibility, even in a hyper fictional world like BVTS and Angel, to ground these romantic relationship with a sense of reality. That sense of reality allows the audience to connect with the characters and make them believe in the relationship. As I see it, that is the key to the success of television program or a movie.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

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