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Origin of Xander&Willow’s affair?

Climbingup

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I watched Buffy as a teen and am rewatching it now with my daughters and son.
We al HATE the Willow-Xander affair arc. Both the affair itself and, more so, the focus on how sad and upset Willow and Xander are throughout (ie focusing on them, rather than the people they themselves hurts).

I was extremely surprised and disappointed to learn that through the the shooting of Buffy, Joss Whedon had multiple affairs with younger women (double eew for this alleged feminist), and wondered if the (attempted) sympathetic portrayal of two characters cheating had anything to do with Whedon attempting to assuage his guilt over an affair that he might have been having at the time.

IDK, just a thought.
It seems more reasonable to me than to believe that Willow would just do that to Oz.
 

Athene

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Sineya
Yeah I think it totally fails at making Xander and Willow sympathetic because they both come off as selfish.
I get why Willow would still have lingering feelings for Xander because it was her fantasy for so long but she takes Oz for granted. Xander is even worse because he never fancied Willow and chose to start liking her when he had a girlfriend and Willow had a boyfriend.
 

Climbingup

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Completely!
I too can understand Willow’s POV more, but I find it less believable that she would do that once she’s solid in the relationship with OZ.
...Xander seems more in keeping with his character (He is a lot less of a sympathetic character to me as a grown up than he was when I was a teen! ) ; but even as stupid and creepy as he can be sometimes, to do that while he’s in a relationship with Cordelia!?

If it had to happen (it didn’t!) I would have liked to see more from Oz and Cordelia’s perspective.
 

thrasherpix

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It's an arc I endure rather than enjoy. And though I've created my own head canon to explain it, it still feels shoehorned in when I watch it.


My headcanon makes both Willow and Xander look even worse. I don't want to be right about either of them, but it's the only way I can make any sense out of it.

In Xander's case, it seems to me that Willow having a boyfriend made her more desirable to him (that's something plenty of school kids do, find someone more attractive just because someone else is obviously into him/her).

And Willow, consciously or otherwise, is being downright vengeful for Xander getting with Cordelia though he rebuffed her for many years (the BBB in season 2 would add to the sting). Willow hated Cordelia (and understandably so, and not everyone can just let it go when the situation changes, it takes them a few years to get over it), and something quite a few schoolgirls I've known did was to steal a boyfriend just to hurt the other girl (and got worse than that, like one who got an STD from another girl who hated her who passed it along by having sex with the other girl's boyfriend).

And if I accept that Willow is actually a lesbian as some insist we do (and it's true that many teen lesbians aren't aware, but the vast majority say later they weren't "in love" or feeling passionate about their former boyfriends once they realize they're a lesbian--and it's usually that lack of passion that they finally accept as normal, or even an attempt to straighten themselves out, that get them to accept they're a lesbian), then that just makes this seem more likely, and that her "attraction" to Oz and Xander wasn't genuine (though she may have liked being around them) but about feeling less like a loser by having a boyfriend as too many females (especially in school) do, so this would be her way to prove she's better than Cordelia while also less distracted by Oz romantically (that is her hatred of Cordelia along with mixed feelings for Xander is driving her more than her platonic love for Oz).



Of course I realize it's just sloppy writing and Willow wasn't thought of as a lesbian by the writers yet, no matter how much some fans want us to ignore that. Nor do they stop to think how it might make them look later on as the series progresses (to be fair they were probably surprised that it lasted as long as it did).

And as I've said plenty of times before, I really don't like how relationships get started in the Jossverse, I just don't relate to a lot of it (violence and impending doom don't turn me on, for example, as it does the typical Jossverse character, though I know it does for some--assuming they're not just turned on all the time anyway but the situation lowers their inhibitions/self-control). They're usually nonsensical to me, and this one was worse than most, in addition to being a betrayal. And so in addition to grudgingly enduring the Xander/Willow arc as I do most ships in the Jossverse, I hate it for the shoehorned betrayal just so they could take it where they wanted to.
 

Oromous

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Sineya
Xander should've broken off with Cordelia if he wanted to be with Willow. Do break-ups not happen in this world without cheating?
 
Puppet
Puppet
And Willow? Or she just an innocent bystander in all this?

Faded90

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The aftermath of it is beyond weird. Like we’re supposed to believe they just couldn’t keep their hands off each other and then all of a sudden there’s nothing at all between them.

Terrivle storyline and I hate how they play that sweet music between them as if we’re supposed to say ‘awww’.Was Willow/Xander a couple that the fandom wanted at the time? I kind of wonder if they did it in a ‘be careful what you wish for’ kind of way because it was areally poor arc
 

Oromous

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I hate how they play that sweet music between them as if we’re supposed to say ‘awww’.Was Willow/Xander a couple that the fandom wanted at the time?
It was the cliché of childhood bestfriends automatically becoming lovers that's so tiresome among tween drama and cartoons. Surprised that BtVS wasn't more mature than that, or considering its showrunner, I guess unsurprising.
 

Climbingup

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Thrasherpix,

I think your head canon is 100% correct.
And of course you’re right that the writers didn’t know that Willow was a lesbian, but I think it makes a lot of sense in the story. My family doesn’t know about that development yet, but I’ve been thinking “huh, how does this gel? I guess she’s bi?”
No, I think you’re description makes the most sense.

And Xander’s POV. No question.

My plan is to just mentally edit it out of existence and consider it a violence that Joss Whedon did against the characters for his own personal reasons, and that they didn’t really do it.
 
burrunjor
burrunjor
I think Willow would have worked better as a bisexual too.

burrunjor

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I watched Buffy as a teen and am rewatching it now with my daughters and son.
We al HATE the Willow-Xander affair arc. Both the affair itself and, more so, the focus on how sad and upset Willow and Xander are throughout (ie focusing on them, rather than the people they themselves hurts).

I was extremely surprised and disappointed to learn that through the the shooting of Buffy, Joss Whedon had multiple affairs with younger women (double eew for this alleged feminist), and wondered if the (attempted) sympathetic portrayal of two characters cheating had anything to do with Whedon attempting to assuage his guilt over an affair that he might have been having at the time.

IDK, just a thought.
It seems more reasonable to me than to believe that Willow would just do that to Oz.
Funny I never thought about it that way, but yeah you might be onto something.

I always assumed it was just a way to break up Xander and Cordy without making Cordy look mean and shallow. (Let's be honest Xander would never dump Cordy LOL.)

Sadly Xander and Cordy could never last because they knew at that point that they'd be getting Cordelia on Angel the series, so there had to be some reason and I guess maybe they felt having Xander cheat on her for Willow would be more sympathetic as he and Willow had a connection pre Cordelia, so it wouldn't just look like some random woman he cheated on her with?

Even then though to be honest I don't see why they couldn't have had them break up because Cordelia wanted to move to LA to pursue her acting career and Xander wanted to stay in Sunny D with the Scoobies? Maybe have Xander mention it in the first episode of season 4 that she left and be upset and Cordelia say she misses him and regrets it in season 1 of Angel? That would have been enough for me, as their relationship was still a bit shallow. It wouldn't be like Oz dumping Cordy to make it as a big guitarist.

The affair story arc is very out of character for both Xander and Willow.

As for Joss being a phony feminist I say always be wary of guys and women who have to boast about how right on they are. Actions speak louder than words. I like Joss, but his I'M SUCH A FEMINIST, MEN HAVE WOMB ENVY stuff always sent warning signals. Compare him to say Rob Tapert who created Xena. Tapert said he wanted to see stronger roles for women, and so he just got on with it, created one, didn't make a whole career out of boasting about it. Joss always looked like he was trying to hide something, and he was with all the firing pregnant actresses and cheating on his wife!
 
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Faded90

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Funny I never thought about it that way, but yeah you might be onto something.

I always assumed it was just a way to break up Xander and Cordy without making Cordy look mean and shallow. (Let's be honest Xander would never dump Cordy LOL.)

Sadly Xander and Cordy could never last because they knew at that point that they'd be getting Cordelia on Angel the series, so there had to be some reason and I guess maybe they felt having Xander cheat on her for Willow would be more sympathetic as he and Willow had a connection pre Cordelia, so it wouldn't just look like some random woman he cheated on her with?

Even then though to be honest I don't see why they couldn't have had them break up because Cordelia wanted to move to LA to pursue her acting career and Xander wanted to stay in Sunny D with the Scoobies? Maybe have Xander mention it in the first episode of season 4 that she left and be upset and Cordelia say she misses him and regrets it in season 1 of Angel? That would have been enough for me, as their relationship was still a bit shallow. It wouldn't be like Oz dumping Cordy to make it as a big guitarist.

The affair story arc is very out of character for both Xander and Willow.

As for Joss being a phony feminist I say always be wary of guys and women who have to boast about how right on they are. Actions speak louder than words. I like Joss, but his I'M SUCH A FEMINIST, MEN HAVE WOMB ENVY stuff always sent warning signals. Compare him to say Rob Tapert who created Xena. Tapert said he wanted to see stronger roles for women, and so he just got on with it, created one, didn't make a whole career out of boasting about it. Joss always looked like he was trying to hide something, and he was with all the firing pregnant actresses and cheating on his wife!
I think they wanted to do the one night stand with Faith as well. Buffy and Willow have their first times with their partners they’re in love with bit not everyone’s first time is and it’s in character for Xander to believe it’s more than what it was
 

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@Oromous sorry about the slightly passive-aggressive comment on your post didn't mean to take it out on you. I'm just so sick of people blaming Xander only or most when it takes two to cheat and Willow was just as bad as him in their affair.
 
Oromous
Oromous
That's understandable. I wasn't really writing with the intention of blaming Xander only... but merely let Willow slip from my mind. 😆 It's my mistake.
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
I actually wondered the same but decided it didn't matter, and it is what it is (like losing count on how many come down hard on Xander for drooling over a dancing Dawn before he realizes who she is, but not Willow drooling right along with him).

Oromous

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@Oromous sorry about the slightly passive-aggressive comment on your post didn't mean to take it out on you. I'm just so sick of people blaming Xander only or most when it takes two to cheat and Willow was just as bad as him in their affair.
I don't know how else to explain it without sounding biased. I guess I was kinda biased when I wrote that because of how toxic Xander's behavior has been even beyond his transgression with Willow. Willow certainly should be blamed for cheating on Oz - don't get me wrong on that - and if I could rewrite my original post, I would've said she should've broken off with Oz too.

But I guess it's just, knowing what the conflict between Willow and Oz ultimately bore fruit - their relationship becoming stronger after the hurt - I guess I let myself had a Freudian slip moment where I inadvertently become more biased towards one party than the other, not to mention my already negative perception of season 1 and 2 Xander ("I guess a man has to be undead to stand a chance with you, huh Buffy?"). Yeah, it's easy to blame Xander and forget about Willow because of whom he was, I'm not gonna hide that fact.

It has nothing to do with gender btw; it has to with Xander. Let's not open a whole other can of worms by making this about Xander's gender and bringing in Dawn into the conversation (let alone how creepy it is for a man to drool over a little girl to begin with; the undertone of such an image is clearly more disturbing than Willow doing the same, sexist or not). I did not say what I did out of some misplaced sexism. I would've been equally harsh if it was Cordelia who cheated, if I haven't already criticized her bully behavior watching season 1 and 2.
 
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spikenbuffy

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I don't have a problem with it, personally. I would have liked a better conclusion about it after they ended it though. Xander will always be Willow's childhood crush.

I like that the triangle of Willow, Xander, Buffy is a part of highshool years. I would have also liked to know when exactly Xander stopped to have a crush on Buffy.
 
Priceless
Priceless
I don't think Xander ever really stops crushing on Buffy.

Climbingup

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They're not portrayed sympathetically. I mean ... I can't even.

I get that you're disappointed with Joss, but really...
You can’t even what, specifically?
Believe that show is trying to portray Willow and Xander in very positive light and focusing on how bad they feel, as opposed to how bad Oz and Cordelia feel?
Believe that the entire arc is focusing on the affair from Willow and Xander’s point of view and really harping on “we tried to stop but couldn’t.”

I am very disappointed with Joss, but that doesn’t have anything to do with how I felt the characters were being portrayed, only with a half-serious/half-joking conspiracy theory as to why that was.

I am new to this forum, so maybe I don’t get it, but why be on a forum if you “can’t even” discuss your perspective on the show?
If you disagree I’m interested to hear your POV, but I’m quite sure that my viewing the show as I do is not so ridiculous that it can be dismissed without comment by anyone who is genuinely interested in discussion.

I mean, I get that your disappointed that I didn’t read the arc the same as you did, but really...
 

WillowFromBuffy

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@Climbingup

I just see all the time that fans invent motivations for the writers, while claiming that the writers failed to achieve those motivations. If you did not sympathise with Will and Xander, it is probably because the writers did not want you to, not because you were able to resist their nefarious brainwashing.

Here's my take:

1. Will and Xander are both shown to be self serving and rationalising in the way they talk about their affair.
2. But they both know that what they are doing is wrong.
3. Both are wrecked with guilt and shame after they are discovered, even if Xander grows somewhat tired of self flagellation. The strong flip from part denial to full admittance make it clear that they were rationalising their actions before.
4. Oz is once again presented as rational and eloquent as the wronged party, while Willow is a pitiful, groveling mess, who'll do anything to be forgiven.
5. The writers make sure that we feel extra sorry for Cordelia, by having her skewered, thrown into garbage, murdered in a hell dimension and thrown into poverty. Sure, Xander did not intend for all of that to happen to her, but it makes him seem doubly evil to the viewer.
 

Taake

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I don't particularly enjoy it but I don't hate it either. In a way I've come to view it as kind of necessary for the characters.

Feelings aren't always reasonable. Is that an excause to cheat? Of course not. But cheating does happen, and I think this was a realistic portrayal of the confusion, conflicting emotions, and ultimately the regret.

I don't read much of Joss Whedon's personal history into it because I actually think it makes sense for the characters.
 

Climbingup

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@WillowFromBuffy

Thank you for your response.
I definitely understand your perspective and I appreciate you sharing it.

And obviously you’re right that I don’t the origin of that arc. It could have nothing to do with Joss Whedon’s life, for all I know it was someone else idea even; I am half-serious with my curiosity , but I’m half-joking too because, of course, I don’t/can’t know.

The one thing that I don’t, can’t agree with is that if you don’t feel a certain way about a character then that’s because that’s how the writers wanted you to feel.
I’m certainly saying that writers can go for subtly and things that might not be obvious; clearly they can. I have worked with artists in many fields and am often amazed by the depth and layers of meaning they bring to their projects.
But to say that, if we don’t feel a certain way about a character it’s because the writers didn’t want us to feel that way, is to take them out the realm of humans and give them some impressive mystical powers (IMO).
It is absolutely possible for a writer to attempt to sway an audiences emotions and not succeed. It also possible to succeed for some people and not for others, and possible to succeed in some times and not have it hold up in others.
I can’t prove that the writers were trying to make Willow and Xander’s guilt prime, and make us feel bad with how bad they feel about what happened. I might be wrong, it’s happened once before (just a joke! I’m wrong all the time! :) ), but that would just be me being wrong, not an automatic superpower of the writers.

Of the whole arc, I do really like your point number four where Oz is shown to be awesome. Oz is great.
I also LOVED his line in the episode before that where he said “I told you what I need” and (paraphrasing) ‘if you keep wanting to talk I have to feel like that’s just to make yourself feel better.’
...so good.
 

thrasherpix

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Writers sometimes do get understood in very different ways that I'm sure shocks them at times...and sometimes I'm shocked as I'm forced to reassess something I'm sure of.

Like I recently saw a James Cameron interview someone sent me, and if anyone other than James Cameron said it, I would've called BS. Even with him saying it I'm reeling in confusion and wondering if he meant it or if he's just taking part in the self-flagellation fad we got going on right now (something that pops up again and again historically, both metaphorically and literally). It's causing me to reassess a lot of films now (not just by him), and my views on what was intended is changing somewhat.


In Buffy terms, there's Go Fish. Personally, I thought the obnoxious and disgusting attitudes of the jocks and faculty against Buffy were condemned, but most didn't think so. (As an added bonus, this is one of the rare times that Sunnydale High felt something like a "real school" to me.) I still don't think it was meant to condone such behavior, but the point is that the writers weren't particularly clear...and even then I still changed my mind about something else (though what I changed my mind about reinforces to me that the behavior wasn't condoned).

The part I changed my mind on was on what Buffy meant by "boys sure love their coach." I was very surprised (and disbelieving) to hear how POTN read that arc, echoed by others, and I thought it was ridiculous, but I did change my mind on this as a rewatch simply because the humor, while still clever at times, was unusually juvenile for the show and could thus see Buffy saying what she did with her and Xander shrugging it off (but this punishes the primary symbol for that behavior which thus reinforces my understanding that the episode wasn't condoning the behavior of jocks and faculty). But I didn't see it that way until it was specifically pointed out to me, and even then I think I'd have still missed it had I not bothered to watch the entire episode to notice how unusually juvenile it was being, the point being that what writers write isn't going to be understood the same by everyone.

But then boards like these would be a lot more boring if they were. ;)
 

Climbingup

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Sorry ThrasherPix, what/who is POTN?
(
 
Ethan Reigns
Ethan Reigns
POTN = Passion of the Nerd, a Youtube channel that provides in-depth reviews of each Buffy episode.
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