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Discussion of 5.02 "Real Me" - Aired 10/03/00 (WB-US)

SnyderRules

Townie
Joined
Mar 29, 2017
Messages
11
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United Kingdom
Not much to this one, just a getting-to-know Dawn episode, the bit with the homeless man is very creepy. The concept of the sudden appearance of Buffy's little sister is one of the best things the show does even if Dawn's character development doesn't run smoothly and she can be annoying (as already evidenced here).

I'm more annoyed by Harmony. I don't think she falls in the 'hate' category of characters but I'll never understand why the writers insisted on bringing her back (and adding her to main cast of Angel in Season 5!), especially since there are far more interesting characters I wanted to see more of, Drusilla anyone?
 

Out for a walk

5 Words Or Less...
Joined
Jun 1, 2017
Messages
206
I am on this episode on my rewatch. Man, I forgot how annoying Dawn was. But, it may also be that I am thinking of her as Georgina in Gossip Girl as well. She plays a lot of annoying characters.
 

Mr Trick

Scooby
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This is a nice little introduction to Dawn. Think the device of her commenting on the other characters via voice over readings of her dairy is effective. Michelle fits right into the role even if the character has a rough start. The Harmony stuff is maybe a bit weaker but it served its purpose.
 

spikenbuffy

"Hi honey, I'm home"
Staff member
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"Harmony, when you tried to be head cheerleader, you were bad. When you tried to chair the homecoming committee, you were really bad. But when you try to be bad ... you suck ".
Buffy was so cool saying this! ;)

“we’ve met, Harmony, you halfwit” :D
 
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Oromous

Socially Awkward
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Sineya
The biggest problem with Dawn isn't Dawn - it's the sudden shift from the more mature teen gothic drama to... well, Lizzie McGuire.

Here's the thing: I was 14 once, and I loved Lizzie McGuire to the point that I even have an itch to rewatch it even now. But the tonal whiplash did require a little time to adjust, "little" like the first 10 minutes of the episode. But after that, I got used to it, even if Michelle Trachtenberg was indeed a little too old for that kind of role. To put it into perspective, one reason Lizzie felt so natural even in her Disney Channel-esque wholesomeness was because Hilary Duff was 14 at the start of the season; Michelle was 16 in this episode. During this age period, you could tell pretty easily between 14 and 16 due to growth spurts born out of puberty, so there was that sense of uncanniness that Dawn felt a little bit too old to be whining with such immaturity. Doesn't help that Michelle and Sarah were almost the same height.

But it's like I said, I was 14 once, and most of Dawn's portrayal was pretty relatable here, her connection with a non-family member like Auntie Willow, big sister Tara, and her older guy crush, Xander. I think the biggest part I could resonate with and probably also the most painful part was Buffy's harsh words behind Dawn's back. Much as I could relate with Buffy's situation as a Slayer and all the heavy burden that comes with it (not to mention the loneliness and, like Dawn, the lack of people understanding the "Real Me" as suggested in the episode title), I remember plenty of times when I heard my own parents badmouthing me behind my back in the most hurtful ways as a child (certainly didn't lead to the most healthy relationship between us down the road), so this episode hits pretty hard in a personal way.

BtVS has always been about the struggles of teenhood, and the angst of having the world possibly ostracizing you and nobody really understanding you is pretty relatable for many teenagers, even today. Dawn's diary acts as a vacuum she could vent to. It's her way of voicing out her frustrations with life and isn't just some tired cliché. I remember having to vent my frustrations out in online diaries too, and it's a pretty therapeutic experience.

I feel a bit sorry for Tara here in this episode, calling herself a non-Scooby. It's another great moment where that feeling of being an outsider is so relatable, having these volatile emotions boiling inside that you feel people wouldn't understand. BtVS is a great teen drama for tackling issues like that.

Riley is as usual creepy with his awkward dialogue ("I'm here to violate your first-born"), but this episode is one of those examples where he's also doting on Buffy and it makes his character so frustrating. Also, I cringed hard when he called himself "A studly yet sensitive boyfriend." Yeah, psh, whatever you say. 🙄

I likes Giles' development here of gaining a new purpose in life while going through his midlife crisis. I just hope that the writers don't just decide to dump him in the shop, call it a day and rarely use his character in significant ways again.

Harmony is adorable this episode, and I like her here even if her role's played for laughs. That half-wit remark from Buffy to her definitely got a chuckle out of me. Harm being so full of pep even in her desperation to be relevant is fun to watch.

And speaking of, it seems like that's the theme for this episode: a desire to be recognized as a significant individual or at least an equal, whether it's Buffy's jealousy of Dawn being babied by her mum, Dawn's frustration of not being taken seriously, Harmony's similar insecurities about not being taken seriously as a person, or Giles' midlife crisis.

Overall, a surprisingly solid episode given what I heard about Dawn. It's actually more likable than I expected, hearkening back to the more innocent days watching tween drama. I just hope that it doesn't overshadow Buffy's character arc of maturity and understandably causing the fanbase to find her annoying, possibly constantly making fun of her being annoying like I did even before meeting her. Huh. Sounds like a foreshadowing if I ever heard one...

8/10
 
Ethan Reigns
Ethan Reigns
Michelle Trachtenberg is 5'7". SMG is 5'3", shorter than her younger sister.
Priceless
Priceless
Dawn is great and doesn't deserve the hate she gets, though the hate has lessened over the years.

Oromous

Socially Awkward
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Sineya
@Ethan Reigns Yeah, but it was kinda hard to tell in the framing of the episode. She was maybe half a head shorter. Anyway, it's all perceived subconsciously is what I meant, not a literal fact that she might be the same height.
 

DeadlyDuo

Scooby
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so there was that sense of uncanniness that Dawn felt a little bit too old to be whining with such immaturity. Doesn't help that Michelle and Sarah were almost the same height.

Originally Dawn was written as a younger character before Michelle Trachtenberg was cast hence why in her early episode she eats ice cream like a moron.
 

Oromous

Socially Awkward
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Sineya
Originally Dawn was written as a younger character before Michelle Trachtenberg was cast hence why in her early episode she eats ice cream like a moron.
Yeah, I read about that, which is why I was more mentally prepared when watching the episode, and why it was so easy to pretend I was watching a Disney Channel drama.
 
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