Tag Archives: Alyson Hannigan

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review-Wesley Wyndam-Price

*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.

By stereotype, the British are believed to be traditional, by the book and unable/unwilling to move away from the tried and true. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this 2D character stereotype was introduced in the form of Wesley Wyndam-Price (Alexis Denisof). Sent by the Watchers Council to be a second watcher to assist Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart-Head) with slayers Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Faith LeHane (Eliza Dushku), their relationship does not start well. Full of it and not exactly able to do his job, Wesley is as ineffective as one can get as a Watcher.

It does not help that there is a mutual crush between himself and underage Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). When the final battle happens between the students of Sunnydale High and the Mayor, Wesley is knocked out as the battle is just getting started.

The viewer then sees Wesley in Los Angeles. Filling a void left by Doyle (the late Glenn Quinn), he joins Angel Investigations working with Angel (David Boreanaz) and Cordelia. When Faith is hired by Wolfram and Hart to kill Angel, but she kidnaps and tortures Wesley instead.

A while later, Wesley develops feeling for Winifred “Fred” Burke (Amy Acker), the newest member of the team. He also switches to the dark side when he tries to save Angel’s newborn son, Connor (played as a teenager by Vincent Kartheiser), but his throat is slit in the process. After dealing with loss, a bruised ego and discovering the truth about his father, he dies next to his beloved, Fred.

To sum it up: Over the course of his time on screen, Wesley moves from a pompous know it all who is obsessed with rules to a man who more often than not, gave into his flaws and weaknesses. But in the end, he redeemed himself by fighting for what was right. As an audience member, I can’t ask for a better character arc.

P.S. Fun fact: Alexis Denisof and Alyson Hannigan are married IRL and have two daughters.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Tara Maclay

*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.

The death of a beloved character often feels like a death in our own families. We watch these shows for years, become entangled in lives of these characters and when they die, it feels like a deeply personal loss.

Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) was introduced as a new character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the 4th season. Like Willow (Alyson Hannigan), Tara is also a witch who is just beginning to develop her powers. But unlike Willow, Tara’s skills are more developed.  Their relationship soon grows from friendship to a romantic relationship.

Like all relationships, the roles within the relationships change as things change. As Willow becomes more confident and powerful as a witch, Tara become the “damsel in distress”, needing to be rescued by her girlfriend. Tara also becomes a surrogate parent to Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) after she and Willow move in with the Summers following the death of Dawn’s mother.

When Willow becomes addicted to magic, Tara supports her girlfriend as she tries to come clean, but Willow’s addiction nearly breaks up their relationship. When Tara is killed by The Trio, her death triggers Willow’s grief and anger, pulling her to the dark side.

To sum it up: Though Tara was not on on BVTS for the entire run of the show, her character was still a significant one. Willow and Tara were one of the first major female LGBTQ relationships on television. It felt real and normal. Tara was as beloved as both Willow’s girlfriend and as an individual character. Her death was a blow to the audience and to the characters who grew to love her as much as Willow did.

To this day, BVTS fans still mourn Tara. We mourn her not just because of her unexpected passing, but because of the impact that she left on us. From this writer’s perspective, that is the mark of a great character.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Cordelia Chase

*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.

According to the lore of the high school social hierarchy, the popular cheerleader is the girl that we should all aspire to be. On the top of the pyramid that the social aspect of high school, the girls want to be her and the boys want to date her. She is also often cast as the mean girl who takes pleasure in putting down her classmates.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the character trope of the popular cheerleader/mean girl was filled by Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). When Cordelia meets Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), she genuinely likes her. That is, until Buffy becomes friends with Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and becomes a target for Cordelia’s cruel taunts. She is also unaware of the darker elements that are engulfing the school and the community.

At the end of the first season, Cordelia’s eyes are opened about the nature of the world that she lives in. Not only does she become friends with the Scooby gang, but she starts an on/off relationship with Xander (Nicholas Brendon). Towards the end of season three, as the prom nears, Cordelia reveals that her family is having major financial issues and she must now fend for herself.

After surviving graduation and the destruction of Sunnydale High School by the mayor, Cordelia moves to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming an actress. Instead, she works with Angel (David Boreanaz) to solve supernatural cases. She is no longer the popular cheerleader/mean girl that she was in high school, she is working for a greater cause. After gaining the power to know when someone is in trouble from Doyle (the late Glenn Quinn), the person that she was back in Sunnydale disappeared. Instead, she has become an adult who understands what it means to sacrifice yourself for something greater.

To sum it up: the essence of any character arc is to watch a character develop over the course of the time that they are on our screens. Between BVTS and Angel, Cordelia morphed from the standard teenage trope of the popular cheerleader/mean girl to a woman who put others needs before hers. It is a remarkable journey for a character that could have easily remained two-dimensional and predictable.

Instead, the writers of BVTS and Angel created a character who grew from a young girl to a woman. The one thing I remember about Cordelia is that her arc felt very real. The growing process from our teenage years to adulthood is full of emotional potholes and barriers. By the time Angel ended in 2004, Cordelia was a woman who looked like the young girl that she was, but was a very different person from the audience’s initial introduction.

That, if nothing else, is the mark of a good writer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Anya Jenkins

*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.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, especially when a woman takes revenge on her cheating husband or boyfriend.

On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anya Jenkins (Emma Caulfield) was introduced in third season as a guest character. Though she was once human, the audience meets her as Anyanka, a demon that women call on when they want to take revenge on the men who have cheated on them. When Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) catches her boyfriend, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) kissing Willow (Alyson Hannigan), she wishes that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) had never moved to Sunnydale. This opens the door to an alternate reality where there is no slayer and the vampires control the town. Thankfully, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), destroys her necklace (where her power comes from), returning the world back to normal and returning Anya back to human form.

Because she has lived for 1000 years as a demon, Anya is unaware of the social cues and social norms. This leads to uncomfortable moments within the Scooby gang and comedy for the audience as Anya says and does things that someone who is aware of social cues and norms would not say or do. She also has a will they or won’t they relationship with Xander, which leads to them nearly saying I do. But Xander is manipulated by someone from his soon be wife’s past and his growing anxieties lead him to break off the engagement just before the ceremony. At the end of the series, Anya becomes a martyr, sacrificing herself to save her former lover.

To sum it up: the woman taking revenge on her cheating significant other is a standard narrative. Anya makes the character more interesting by adding the comedy and the lack of awareness of what not say and do. This comedy not only lightens the dark mood of BVTS, allowing the audience to laugh and wanting to come back for more.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Dawn Summers

*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.

To be one’s little sister is not always easy. Especially when one’s older sister is the Slayer. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that little sister is Dawn Summers. Introduced in the beginning of season 5, Dawn appeared to be the average, annoying little sister. She adored her sister’s friends and wanted to be around them. But like any big sister,Buffy did not want to have her sister around.

But up until that point, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), was an only child.  But no one questioned Dawn’s existence. Then Buffy discovered that Dawn is the Key, a mystical object turned into human form so she can be protected from Glory (Clare Kramer). After Buffy defeats Glory, Dawn is accepted as she is. But then her mother dies and Dawn has to deal with the loss of her mother. In her grief, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) helps Dawn with a spell to bring her mother back, but that does not end well.

The sisters finally mend their relationship after Buffy’s bought with with depression and Dawn’s feelings of abandonment. During the final battle at end of the series, Dawn fights with the Scooby gang and earns her stripes as an ally of the Slayer.

To sum it up: The stereotype of the annoying little sister can be fun to play with as a writer. The character of Dawn is interesting because she is much more than the basic character trope. Beyond her magical conception and abilities, she is a fully formed character whom we love to hate because she is so annoying. When a character is memorable because they are annoying, the writer(s) have done something right.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television, Uncategorized

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Willow Rosenberg

*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.

Confidence is not always something that some of us have naturally, especially when we are teenagers. Confidence sometimes has to be grown into. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy’s BFF, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) was not the most confident when the series started. Book smart, tech smart and a little awkward, Willow was not exactly at the top of high school social hierarchy. But she was not alone in her social awkwardness. Her other BFF, Xander (Nicholas Brendon), was equally looked down upon.

But then things changed for her. Willow discovered that not only was she a witch, but also found solid romantic relationships. In high school, she dated rocker/werewolf Daniel “Oz” Osbourne (Seth Green). In college, she not only came out of the closet and dated Tara Maclay, but also became confident with her magical abilities.

But even with her new-found confidence, Willow is far from perfect. Her addiction to magic nearly kills her and everyone around her. It nearly ruins her relationship with Tara and compounds her grief when Tara is murdered. But she is able to heal from the loss of Tara, move on from her addiction and find the will to move on with her life.

To sum it up: Watching a character gain confidence in who they are and their abilities can be a very compelling narrative. Over the course of the series, Willow grew from a teenage girl who doubted herself to a woman who faced personal trials and survived. That story is as old as the human race and continues to be compelling because we all go through a similar narrative in our lives.

P.S. As a Jewish redhead, seeing myself reflected on-screen was the cherry on the top of the ice cream that is Willow Rosenberg.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Xander Harris

*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.

Every superhero has to have the mortal friend. Sometimes, this friend is a wise ass, always cracking a joke when the tension has reached its highest. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this mortal friend is Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon). Xander is not just one of the Scooby Gang, he is the one who is frequently attacked by the baddie of the week. Like many teenage boys, his romantic life is often hit or miss, especially with crushes on Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter).

Years later, Xander was engaged to the demon in human form Anya (Emma Caulfield Ford). But he broke the engagement out of fear. They had what can only be described as the science fiction version of will they or won’t they, until Anya died during the battle with The First Evil.

To sum it up: Laughter is always the best medicine. Especially when all h*ll is about to break loose. On Buffy, Xander not only provides the laughter, but the humanity to Buffy’s super-strength. A good writer knows where to provide the balance between the drama and the laughter, the humanity and the superhuman. By injecting Xander’s humanity and comedy into Buffy, the show is not just another science fiction/fantasy show. It is a show that underneath the magic and the fantasy, there is a humanity to the narrative and the characters. That is what usually hooks audiences and keeps them coming back for more.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Buffy Summers

The new characters I be reviewing are…..the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

*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.

To be a teenage girl is hard enough. It’s even harder when you have to save the world on a near daily basis. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is not just the average teenage girl dealing with boys, friends and school. She is the chosen one, the slayer who is gifted with power to protect the living from vampires and other creatures that can only come out of our nightmares.

But while she is slaying the undead and protecting Sunnydale from a constant stream of baddies who would love nothing more than to take her down, she is dealing with everyday stuff that all teenage girls deal with. Labelled as uncool by popular girl Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter), Buffy becomes best friends with equally unpopular Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan). She also has a series of boyfriends, including the soulful vampire Angel (David Boreanaz).

To sum it up: when creating a superhero, the writer or writers cannot just create an all-powerful, perfect character. He or she must have something that makes them human and fallible. This allows the audience to relate to this character. Buffy Summers speaks to her audience because we understand her humanity and the common experience of being a teenager. As a character, more than 20 years after she was introduced to television audiences, Buffy Summers is still fondly remembered by fans not only as a bad ass, but as a woman who goes through the same sh*t we all went through during our teenage years.

Leave a comment

Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Throwback Thursday- American Pie (1999)

Being a teenager is not easy. Looking back, my teenage years were the most confusing, yet defining era of my life.  No matter how old we get or what else we experience, the former teenager that we were will always be a part of our lives.

American Pie, the funny, sometimes gross, but poignant film is about four young men who are looking to loose their virginity before their senior prom.

Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) make a pact to all loose their virginity by the time prom night rolls around. Kevin tries to persuade his girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid) to go all the way with him, Oz joins the school choir and is matched with Heather (Mena Suvari), Finch spreads rumors about his sexual prowess and Jim fails miserably with Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) before going to the prom with Michelle (Alyson Hannigan).

American Pie, for my generation is part of our DNA. It’s not just a movie about boys looking for sex, the female characters are just as real and unsure as any teenager is about life and sex. It’s one of those movies that had stayed with me and it still quotable and watchable after 15 years.

To borrow a line from the movie, its like “warm apple pie”.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Throwback Thursday