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Origin of Xander&Willow’s affair?

thrasherpix

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Sorry ThrasherPix, what/who is POTN?
(
POTN = Passion of the Nerd. If you haven't checked out his videos yet, then do so. While I don't agree with every interpretation, I have never regretted watching a single review of Angel or Buffy or Firefly, and something I hadn't noticed before is usually pointed out to me. At times, his reviews are almost like poetry, at least making me realize the episode is a form of art, not just mere "junk food" entertainment (not that there's necessarily anything wrong with "junk food" entertainment, I indulge in that myself at times with great enjoyment).
 
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AlphaFoxtrot

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I thought Lover's Walk was a fine payoff, and clearly both couples were put through hell because of it. I'm fine with Joss's penchant for misery as long as it's well written. I do regret how it essentially wrote Cordelia off the series.
 

RachM

I'm busy. I'm brooding.
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I'm in the minority here, but I always liked the Willow/Xander affair, for several reasons.

1) I think that at some point Willow/Xander had to be explored, if nothing else to resolve/move on from their unspoken feelings for one another. There are small (and not-so-small) hints from the first season that eventually these two would explore a romantic relationship, however brief, and so I liked that Season 3 eventually addressed these feelings and resolved them.

2) Season 3 is very much about the fear of the future and the unknown that the characters are facing post-Graduation. It makes sense that in a time of uncertainty and fear, Willow and Xander would turn to what was familiar and comfortable - each other. I also like that the scene takes place when they're trying on more "adult" clothing and talking about the future, as it shows them seeing one another in a "new" light and realising that the attraction is still there.

3) I think it's a very fitting "teenager" storyline to have two characters struggling with feelings for more than one person at the same time. Not that all teenagers experience this, but when I remember high school, I remember having more than one crush at the one time (and my friends being the same) and the confusion that came from trying to figure out which crush was greater and how that sometimes led to people getting hurt.

4) I think that the story was executed well and I think that the aftermath was very realistic. Cordelia turning on Xander and being so hurt that she just couldn't forgive him was very in-character, as was Oz taking the time to work through his feeling, concluding that Xander and Willow had a connection that would always be there but deciding that he loved Willow enough to forgive her.

So yeah, those are my unpopular thoughts on the storyline *runs and hides in the corner*
 

Climbingup

Townie
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I think that’s a legit perspective.

I def agree with you on your fourth point, Cordelia’s pain was absolutely heartbreaking and completely believable, and every aspect of Oz’s reaction was perfect.
 

WillowFromBuffy

To be or not to evil.
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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.
That's not what I am saying at all. We can at best make a reasonable guess about how the writers wants us to feel. In this instance, I can't see anything in the text that condones infidelity, so I wouldn't assume the writers intended to condone it.

What frustrates me is all these the-writers-tried-to-make-me-feel-like-this-but-I-am-too-clever-for-them arguments. To make such an argument, you should have a pretty strong argument for why you think the writers wanted you to feel differently than you felt. Quite often, your against the grain interpretation may not be as against the grain as you thought.

But even if Whedon and his team really did want us to side with Xander and Willow, what does that have to do with Joss's transgression? Illicit kisses between two teens in high school is one thing. What Kai Cole has somewhat vaguely accused Joss of/insinuated that he has done, is much more serious. Kai Cole hints at a possible future MeToo scandal.
Oz is shown to be awesome. Oz is great.
And he is probably awesome because the writers deliberately wrote him to be exactly that, so that we would understand him to be sympathetic and sensible.
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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Seriously, the show's message is, you cheat on your girlfriend, it's over. Both Oz and Cordelia clearly thought it was a big deal. My only issue is this, they didn't get caught in the library, or in a secluded place they got caught while being rescued from the lair of a vampire. My natural reaction would probably be, I'm not a fan of it, but I can excuse it because they thought they were going to die. Also, I cannot recall Charisma/Cordie's rebar wound ever coming up again, ever.
 

Climbingup

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@WillowFromBuffy
That's not what I am saying at all. We can at best make a reasonable guess about how the writers wants us to feel.
In this instance, I can't see anything in the text that condones infidelity, so I wouldn't assume the writers intended to condone it.
I don’t think I said that the show condoned infidelity.
In fact, if the show had been fine with infidelity then my tongue-in-cheek theory about Whedon wouldn’t have made sense. My theory was that Joss Whedon was using the characters to explain his feelings and assuage his guilt, that wouldn’t work if everything was condoned in the first place.

I said that the focus is on how bad Willow and Xander feel about what they’re doing. That isn’t condoning cheating, it’a portraying them sympathetically.
I was talking about it jokingly related it to Cordelia taking about hitting someone:
"It was the most traumatic event of my life, and she was trying to make it about her leg, like my pain meant nothing!"


What frustrates me is all these the-writers-tried-to-make-me-feel-like-this-but-I-am-too-clever-for-them arguments. To make such an argument, you should have a pretty strong argument for why you think the writers wanted you to feel differently than you felt. Quite often, your against the grain interpretation may not be as against the grain as you thought.
I am sorry that my against the grain interpretation bothered you so much. I am not interested in rewatching the whole arc to analyze scene by scene the parts that I didn’t like and explain why that gives me the right to guess what the writers were going for.

I watched the show when it was on and I know how I felt about it then (FWIW, as the target audience, watching as the show was coming out, I felt very differently) and I’ve watched the show now, as an adult in different time period and with teenagers who weren’t around for the 90s. Based on that I have some thoughts about the show and a guess as to how we’re meant to feel.

I do apologize if the way I framed that triggered you, either feeling defensive for the writers or thinking that I am such an arrogant jackass as to presume that I might guess what emotions were being suggested.
I don’t believe it was unreasonable but, since I am not going to go point by point, we’ll have to agree to disagree about how specifically arrogant of a jackass I am in this regard.


But even if Whedon and his team really did want us to side with Xander and Willow, what does that have to do with Joss's transgression? Illicit kisses between two teens in high school is one thing. What Kai Cole has somewhat vaguely accused Joss of/insinuated that he has done, is much more serious. Kai Cole hints at a possible future MeToo scandal.
It was based on the excerpt of the letter he wrote to her, trying to explain what happened from his perspective and make what happened understandable to her. He discussed the societal pressures that put him in the situation and how he was able to live both of the conflicting roles society told him he was supposed to.
He was very concerned with getting her to understand what was going on his head through the process.

He also discusses both physical and inappropriate emotional affairs, so It’s not just about what he did physically, but also emotionally, and more importantly how he rationalized the situation to himself and how he dealt with his guilt.


And he is probably awesome because the writers deliberately wrote him to be exactly that, so that we would understand him to be sympathetic and sensible.
Well, yeah, obviously.
I’m only doing more than just agreeing with you here because I’m not clear why it was necessary to add unless your under the impression that I don’t respect the writing on the show.
I am rewatching the series, and literally joined a Buffy message board, solely because of how wonderful the show is. Obviously casting, sets, costumes, direction etc. all have a place in that love for the show, but none of that means anything without the writing.
If I get frustrated with an arc, or anything, that feels wrong in the story to me, or if I’m unhappy with the portrayal of certain characters (or, as you might put it, if decide that I’m way smarter than the writers and can see through there ploys), it’s not because I don’t think the writers are wonderful and effective, it’s because I DO think they’re wonderful and effective ...that’s why I like the show.
 

WillowFromBuffy

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I don’t think I said that the show condoned infidelity.
You claimed the show attempted to portray Will and Xander's infidelity sympathetically.

The Oxford dictionary defines sympathetically as "... in a way that shows approval of or favour towards an idea or action."
I’m only doing more than just agreeing with you here because I’m not clear why it was necessary to add unless your under the impression that I don’t respect the writing on the show.
I added it, because you wrote in your OP that the show attempted to portray Will and Xander's infidelity sympathetically and focused on them rather than those they hurt, i.e. Cordelia and Oz. As I've made clear, I think you're wrong about that, as I think the show works really hard to make us sympathise with Cordy and Oz and gives them much more focus than normal.

You came out pretty strong in your OP against both the show and Joss, so I think you should have expected some strong push back.
 

Climbingup

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You claimed the show attempted to portray Will and Xander's infidelity sympathetically.

The Oxford dictionary defines sympathetically as "... in a way that shows approval of or favour towards an idea or action."
Thank you for your quote of the dictionary.
Rereading my OP I still feel that it is clear but, if it isn't, I believe that Willow and Xander are portrayed sympathetically. Not that the show is portraying the affair as good, but that is focusing on the mixed and conflicting feelings they are having and wants us to feel ..you know ...sympathy for them.
Feeling sympathetic towards someone's feelings is not the equivalent of condoning their actions.

I added it, because you wrote in your OP that the show attempted to portray Will and Xander's infidelity sympathetically and focused on them rather than those they hurt, i.e. Cordelia and Oz. As I've made clear, I think you're wrong about that, as I think the show works really hard to make us sympathise with Cordy and Oz and gives them much more focus than normal.
I respect your reading, and disagree.
Oz's reaction was awesome, as it almost always is, to anything. Cordelia's reaction was heartbreaking and brief. I feel like most of our understanding of their feelings and process is inferred rather than shown, as it is with Xander and Cordelia.
Again, I certainly don't have a problem with you disagreeing with me and I'm sorry it bothered you so much the way that I discussed it. At least some of what you're reading into my statements isn't there on my end; I don't know if that's due to communicating in print online, or if I phrased things less than perfectly, but I have tried to explain my meaning both here and previously.
You came out pretty strong in your OP against both the show and Joss, so I think you should have expected some strong push back.
I most certainly did not come out pretty strongly against the show.
In fact, I did not come out strongly against the show as a whole in any way whatsoever.
I strongly stated my dislike for one arc in one part of one season of the show. Regardless of writers intentions or not I do not like that arc. If I didn't like the show I wouldn't have got that arc on rewatch, and it wouldn't have bothered me because I didn't like the show anyways. I also would not have sought out, joined and posted on a Buffy message board.
Not liking one small part of a show is in no way, at all, coming out strongly against the show.

Did I come out strongly against Joss?
Probably. I stick with that.

Should I have expected push back for not coming out against the show, coming out against one part, and coming out against Joss?
Maybe so.
I didn't think it would be that controversial. I thought some folks would disagree (which they did, which is great, I like hearing folks' POV ...thats why I joined this forum) but there you go.
 
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WillowFromBuffy

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Thank you for your quote of the dictionary.
Rereading my OP I still feel that it is clear but, if it isn't, I believe that Willow and Xander are portrayed sympathetically. Not that the show is portraying the affair as good, but that is focusing on the mixed and conflicting feelings they are having and wants us to feel ..you know ...sympathy for them.
Feeling sympathetic towards someone's feelings is not the equivalent of condoning their actions.
No, I am not sure what you mean. Normally, when we say that we feel sympathy with someone, it means something more than merely having empathy. It may not mean that they are entirely justified, but at least they are somewhat worthy of pity. To elicit feelings of sympathy, you need to be at least somewhat sympathetic.

But if you understand having sympathy as merely focusing on Will and Xander's "mixed and conflicting feelings", then I don't see what's got you so upset. Don't you think people who have illicit smoochies with each other have "mixed and conflicting feelings" about it?

As for the show focusing more on Will and Xander's "mixed and conflicting feelings", that's probably because Nick and Allie had top billing, not because Joss was trying to justify affairs with young women in his employ.

It's the same reason why we don't see Tara as much as Willow after "Tabula Rasa." It is not because Tara is less deserving of sympathy. It is because Amber wasn't even part of the main cast.
 

SpikeOrAngel

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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.
I will say that based on Harvey Weinstein (and Hollywood in general) that the teen sex themes are projections of their perversions. For decades Hollywood has made their products teen sexapades to make it "normal".

But in terms of character realism, Willow always loved Xander from Day 1 and the show is part-romance. Soap operas always have that type of trope.

To me, Angel having sex with a teenager is related to Whedon's projections/wishes as well.
 

Ethan Reigns

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Sineya
I will say that based on Harvey Weinstein (and Hollywood in general) that the teen sex themes are projections of their perversions. For decades Hollywood has made their products teen sexapades to make it "normal".

But in terms of character realism, Willow always loved Xander from Day 1 and the show is part-romance. Soap operas always have that type of trope.

To me, Angel having sex with a teenager is related to Whedon's projections/wishes as well.
I might add a question to this: did Joss' requirement for Buffy to continually lose weight and go down to a prepubescent size come from a fixation on underage girls? Buffy started at a healthy 115 pounds and ended her downward slide at 94 pounds, only because the stuntwoman had to follow her weight down and at that point, she couldn't do the stunts anymore. Most people agree that there was no reason to do this - Buffy looked best in the first three seasons and gradually became more emaciated as time went on.
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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Oh, the man who made a television series about Summer Glau's feet might have sexual issues? What clued you in?
 

Climbingup

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I might add a question to this: did Joss' requirement for Buffy to continually lose weight and go down to a prepubescent size come from a fixation on underage girls? Buffy started at a healthy 115 pounds and ended her downward slide at 94 pounds, only because the stuntwoman had to follow her weight down and at that point, she couldn't do the stunts anymore. Most people agree that there was no reason to do this - Buffy looked best in the first three seasons and gradually became more emaciated as time went on.
OMFG! I didn’t know about any of that. Yikes!
 

Climbingup

Townie
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I will say that based on Harvey Weinstein (and Hollywood in general) that the teen sex themes are projections of their perversions. For decades Hollywood has made their products teen sexapades to make it "normal".
Good point
To me, Angel having sex with a teenager is related to Whedon's projections/wishes as well.
My daughter LOATHES angel, and refuses to entertain the idea that he is anything other than a pedophile.
I find angel fairly uninteresting and am willing to go along with the relationship in the show but
...she’s right!
When we find out that he originally saw her at, what 14?, and followed her because he was “in love with her”
...very gross.
 
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