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Bad Girls - too moralizing?

Taake

Bella
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Black Thorn
#1
In the season 3 episode "Bad Girls" we see Buffy let loose for about a whole day to live like more like wilder Slayer Faith. Their Slayer antics, blowing off steam with a dance party, ends tragically as ends up staking a human man during a joint hunt for vampires...

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Question: Is this episode maybe a bit too moralizing about Buffy going bad? I don't mean that the death at the end of the day is any excuse, but the fact that Buffy "goes wild" for one day or two, and it ends up with a human dying... isn't it a bit like 70s-80s anti-drugs ads, where a kid tries drugs and then jumps out a window or starts cutting herself with glass or something?

The object here isn't that the end of Bad Girls shouldn't have happened, it should've and was very significant to the show, but should Buffy have been "bad" for a longer period of time?

In season 2 they also spend one episode dabbling with the idea of a "bad" Buffy (in When she was bad) and it resolves itself at the end of the episode, which was fine for that particular arc as the show was still finding its ground.

But at this time the show was well established and Buffy a treasured character, having her go dark for a couple of episodes ought to have contributed to her character arc and development, no? I believe even Clark Kent got to be bad for quite sometime on Smallville under the influence of red kryptonite, if I recall correctly.

So why didn't Buffy get to be bad? Not enough time? A dislike for bad girls in a general audience?
The message that Buffy's duty is not to be taken too lightly is a good one, but together with episodes like Reptile Boy, Bad Girls is another one for the road saying that the second Buffy tries to relax (be a bit irresponsible like a normal teen) - death happens. She has one drink - nearly fed to a snake demon, she takes one day not being a good girl - guy dies...

Was the early show a bit hard on Buffy as a heroine?

And should she have gotten to be bad for a longer time in season 3? A stronger bond with Faith would have made the end of the season even more tragic after all.
What say the rest of you?

:)
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#3
If Buffy was always going to be punished for her recklessness, would it matter how many episodes it took?

I am not sure if I agree that BtVS is super puritan, though. Buffy does a lot of things that she does not get punished for. She sneaks out of her room and hangs out at a nightclub almost every day of the week. She does, in a way, get punished for having sex with her much older boyfriend, but Giles and Willow make it very clear that she has not done anything wrong. The only one who judges her for having sex with Angel is Joyce, who clearly does not understand.
 
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Black Thorn
#4
So why didn't Buffy get to be bad? Not enough time? A dislike for bad girls in a general audience?
The message that Buffy's duty is not to be taken too lightly is a good one, but together with episodes like Reptile Boy, Bad Girls is another one for the road saying that the second Buffy tries to relax (be a bit irresponsible like a normal teen) - death happens. She has one drink - nearly fed to a snake demon, she takes one day not being a good girl - guy dies...
Because it was a teen show and the heroine could not set a bad example. She had to be an inspirational role model. That's why there was the "scared straight" moment in the back of the police car where Buffy, and the audience, learned that stealing was bad and if you ditch school bad things happen to you.

I think the narrative would have been different if it were written today, but at the time there were certain things expected from your hero- especially a teen hero- catered to a teen market.
 
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Sineya
#5
I don't think Buffy punished. I think what happened with Faith was used to warn Buffy about how far she could fall as a person and a slayer. It wasn't punishing Buffy or telling her to never have fun, just to beware that fun can easily turn into misery and death.
 
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#6
I don't think the intent was to punish Buffy for not staying on the straight and narrow, however I think the message was that actions have consequences and irresponsibility carries a greater risk. When you compare Faith and Buffy, Buffy has a potentially bright future ahead of her whereas Faith doesn't, yet Buffy is willing to jeopardise that future because Faith encourages her too. Teenagers can't see the bigger picture, they only care about the immediate aftermath. Had Buffy been warned that going out with Faith would lead to bad things, then she would've brushed it off because she enjoyed being with Faith and the possibility of something bad happening was an abstract thought. It wasn't until Finch's death that she realised that hanging out with Faith was a bad idea because she was faced with a tangible consequence eg Faith trying to pin the death on her.
 
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#7
When She was Bad was different. That came more from a PTSD place than rebellion or asserting independence.

As for Bad Girls, I think the story wanted to show us what could happen if a Slayer went bad. It did feel forced in places, but I hesitate to say it was moralizing (*), even if they pulled a "Chick tract" (**) with how Buffy dressed. (Still, I prefer this tale of hubris and Slayer gone bad to the Dark Willow arc.)

(*) I didn't realize Beer Bad was supposed to be an anti-alcohol message until I later heard they tried to grab some government money by passing it as such (glad they were denied, and just one more way that generally good story tellers can be so clueless about everyday life that they mistake their own silliness for being serious).

(**) Chick tracts are, for those lucky enough not to know, a comic series used by fundamentalist Christians (though deeply anti-Catholic) to gain converts, and range from comic book form to little pamphlets. They're unintentionally hilarious to me, and they get rightfully mocked despite Jack's threats to sue those who mock his material (funny example where the chick tract declaring Dungeons & Dragons satanic gets mocked here). One common feature is that you can tell when a female protagonist is in girl or bad mode by how she's dressed (though to be fair comics do this in general, but it gets taken to an extreme in chick tracts). And I thought of Chick tracts in this episode with the contrast in how they were dressed, particularly in the end scene where Buffy is apparently dressed for Sunday School when she goes to see Faith at the end of, I think, Bad Girls (the one where Faith says "I don't care"). There is no way the Buffy I knew would wear clothes like that unless made to her by her mother, but they had to make a contrast between her and Faith and were less than subtle, IMO.
 
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