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Was Tara on the autistic spectrum or something? (Serious question)

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@TriBel Maybe hitting yourself in the face would make you not have autism anymore. Don't do it, though. It could rob you of your love for literary structures and patterns.
I personally love how @TriBel thinks. There is a huge lack of literary analysis in the world nowadays, which we need more of. I prefer thought out responses over offensive troll posts anyday.

@TriBel , keep doing you.
 
WillowFromBuffy
WillowFromBuffy
I consider TriBel as my Yoda. I wanna have her job one day.

Athene

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Sineya
A) Amber Benson's attempt to play shy just didn't work? (I know some outgoing actors have hard time playing shy and awkward characters, myself included)
I think it’s this one- I’m shy as a person but I never really related to Tara’s shyness because it seemed to go from two extremes really quick. Still, Tara doesn’t read as autistic she reads as someone who’s delayed socially because of how she was raised.
 
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Black Thorn
Still, Tara doesn’t read as autistic she reads as someone who’s delayed socially because of how she was raised.
Yeah I felt that too. Her father seemed extremely controlling so it would not surprise me if her social circles were mainly within her family up until she went to university.
 
Athene
Athene
Exactly she has her issues but it’s from circumstance

Buffy Summers

Yataro
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Sineya
Spanky said:
Not true. I just don't think the word has the stigma that "everyone" else seems to think it has.
Look, I work with autistic people in my work every day. There is a difference between saying "Tara is socially retarded because of how she was raised." and saying, "Is Tara retarded or something?" (And PatrickHalliwel, I am not saying this to get down on you - the title was edited and that should have been the end of things.) It's not the word but how it is used that is the issue.

Now, drop this ridiculousness.
 
Spanky
Spanky
I don't see a difference, but since I am in the minority and the manner in which I speak is offsetting for some then I will say no more on it. And being autistic or having aspergers has nothing to do if one is retarded or not.

Buffy Summers

Yataro
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Spanky said:
And being autistic or having aspergers has nothing to do if one is retarded or not.
Autism was what was stated in the question posed in the original post.

But calling someone who has autism or aspergers retarded is incredibly hurtful to the people I have worked with (and it sounds like, to folks on this board). Hence, the editing.
 
Spanky
Spanky
Oh. Well with the thread title being changed then it certainly does make my post seem a lot worse.

NeddaSai

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If I remember correctly one of the reasons Tara was introduced was because Willow was getting too powerful and Joss needed a more vulnerable character that would make us fear for her safety.. amping up her awkwardness and shyness with all the tics and stutters was probably a direct result of that decision. I'm not sure they had a specific mental issue in mind when they thought of the character, just that awkward/shy=vulnerable.

Her character growing in Season 5 and being less awkward felt organic but I always thought maybe Dawn's existence made it less important for Tara to be the vulnerable/protected character..
 
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@Spanky OMG Asperger's!!! That's definitely a more precise diagnosis for Tara than autism. I like that one better than the other explanations as far as something being 'wrong' with her.

@Athene I agree. After my initial, "Oh my god, is she mental?" reaction, I started questioning the actress' methods for portraying a shy character. Some of her hesitation seemed OVERLY hesitant. The same way her furrowed eyebrows and scrunching of the forehead seemed overly dramatic to the point where I thought something was seriously wrong with Tara's mental capacity. I remember doing a play where I had to portray a shy and queasy-stomached grocery store clerk who had a crush on a pretty girl shopping. Firstly, I'm gay in real life and not shy at all, and let's just say I had a harder time identifying with my character because he was shy, not straight. So yeah, social awkwardness is not as easy to pretend to portray if you're not used to the little quirks and bodily habits and ticks that go along with it.

I will not give up on this, however, as once I'm done rewatching, I will definitely have my final stand on this.

Tara Maclay = Victim of social awkwardness due to tough upbringing? Victim of a serious socially crippling mental disease? Or victim of being given the wrong actor to portray her? We shall see.
 

Cohen

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I think it’s this one- I’m shy as a person but I never really related to Tara’s shyness because it seemed to go from two extremes really quick. Still, Tara doesn’t read as autistic she reads as someone who’s delayed socially because of how she was raised.
I don’t think she goes through two extremes quickly. She’s socially awkward throughout seasons 4 and 5. It’s when she steps into the mother role for Dawn and Buffy in season 6 that she becomes more confident in herself. She even tells Willow how much confidence she has gained through merely being with willow—after nearly 2 years! That’s a long time to grow.
 

Athene

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She even tells Willow how much confidence she has gained through merely being with willow—after nearly 2 years! That’s a long time to grow.
Yeah I get that and I think all shy people have people that they’re comfortable and extroverted towards but for Tara it seemed like she was seriously awkward and shy in her first scene but then we don’t really see those mannerisms in her other scenes with Willow or the other characters to the same degree (even in season 4). So rather than seeing Tara grow out of her shyness it felt like it was just dropped.
 

DeadlyDuo

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Tara isn't autistic.

Consider the fact that, not only would she have had to fill out an application for UC Sunnydale (she wouldn't have help from her family), but she would've also needed to get the grades to be accepted there, and she'd be moving out and away from her "support network" (if her family had been decent). She doesn't get any additional academic support which means Tara is intellectually functioning normally. She is living independently, the scoobies aren't her babysitters. Also Tara is able to empathise on an emotional level with others which autistic people can't do. They might be able to understand crying=sad but they don't get why someone is sad, just that they are.

Also don't forget that Tara is under the belief that she's a demon (or going to turn into one on her next birthday), she isn't going to want to leave herself open to being found out. I think she has a little social anxiety hence why she tries to speak up in the "wicca" group but when everyone's eyes are on her and she's the focus of attention she backs off. However once she's developed a relationship with Willow, she attends the social gatherings Willow invites her to without freaking out. Tara would've suffered psychological abuse with the whole "you're a demon" shtick and possibly some physical abuse, her brother's threat of "beating her down" isn't a threat that would be made out of the blue. However, once she's comfortable with people, she's not as awkward around them. I think she's the one who actually seeks out Willow after the wicca meeting.

The most likely reason for Tara seeming a bit "off" in her early appearances is because of the way she's written rather than the acting. Some characters are better in their earlier appearances (Buffy, Spike, Drusilla, Giles, Anya, Cordelia) whilst some are better in their later appearances (Xander, Angel, Dawn, Tara, Darla). Willow falls somewhere in the middle. It's the writing. For example, in Season 2 Drusilla is a lot more switched on than she is portrayed in the later seasons. Sure she'll switch to random topics but that's more of an attention/avoidance thing rather than spouting complete nonsense and her attention can always be brought back to the matter at hand. She quite lucid when she's with Spike and it was at her behest that Spike didn't kill Ford. Likewise, Anya was a lot more with it on a social etiquette scale during Season 3 than she was in Season 4 and beyond.

Some characters get dumbed down for the sake of plot whilst other characters get to evolve. In Season 6, we get to see a different more rounded side of Tara. because the plot demands it.

Tara's stutter is likely the result of her anxiety mixing with what she's trying to say, she's stumbling over her words. I think the reason stutterers don't stutter when they sing is because they have the "script" aka the song words to follow. They're not trying to form their own sentence to articulate a point and worrying how it's going to be perceived. When people are so anxious that they're trembling they can stutter despite not being stutterers.
 

thrasherpix

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I haven't thought of this before, but I wonder if Tara was written the way she was when she first appeared to discourage fans from metaphorically kicking her for either replacing Oz or "turning Willow gay" (even to this day I can see a character become hated when not before because that person became a gay love interest to a main character, thus "ruining" a favorite character to certain people, in part because they had projected themselves into that character, though also because they might be intense shippers themselves that this threw a monkey wrench into).

I remember that many hated Kate in Angel because it was thought she was there to replace Buffy as Angel's love interest just as Tara was to replace Oz (not to say there aren't other reasons to dislike Kate, and as soon as they made it clear that wasn't the case then that particular hatred disappeared). The writers may have thought hating on Kate is one thing, but what monster could hate on Tara? (And if it seems to be working, then why change it before the plot demands it?)

To be clear, I'm not saying this is what I think happened, just that it just now occurred to me to wonder.
 

Anyanka Bunny Slayer

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Man, you talk about real issues that real people have with stunning ignorance, and then you have the audacity to group it all as "retardation," which is as offensive as it is wildly inaccurate.
 
Spanky
Spanky
That dude's one big eye is really unsettling
WillowFromBuffy
WillowFromBuffy
but ... but I don't like it when people throw terms around willy nilly :p

DeadlyDuo

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I haven't thought of this before, but I wonder if Tara was written the way she was when she first appeared to discourage fans from metaphorically kicking her for either replacing Oz or "turning Willow gay"
I agree and disagree. I think certain personality types can wind people up the wrong way (such as Kennedy), however a character's "mousiness" can be just as annoying as a character's forthrightness. Therefore I don't think there's necessarily a rule on what makes a popular character and what makes a hated one, different things annoy different people so a character is always going to have their haters regardless of their type of personality. Some people actually like Kennedy, others completely hate her.

Tara could've very easily been a wet blanket and probably benefitted from Oz's lack of development ( he doesn't do much, he's just there, and his academic laziness is kind of irritating rather than "cool"), but because she had time to grow over the course of 3 seasons, she is more fondly remembered. Kennedy, on the other hand, was always going to be at a disadvantage in the eyes of the fans on account of the fact that she's a new character introduced in the back half of the final season and she's replacing Tara. Her personality just causes the hatred to step up a gear because of the way she's constantly pushing herself on the other characters.

The writers made several missteps with Kennedy. The first being that she looks down her nose at Buffy the moment she walks into Buffy's house. The audience is pre-dispositioned to be team Buffy so Kennedy's attitude towards Buffy really doesn't do her any favours. Then there's the whole mutiny led by Kennedy, if the audience didn't hate Kennedy before, they would after that. The second misstep is Kennedy's pursuit of Willow. Tara's death is still very fresh in the minds of the audience and Kennedy's pursuit of Willow is quite agressive and domineering. She practically invites herself into sharing Willow's bed within moments of meeting her which is actually quite rude since a bed is essentially someone's personal space. Willow is very taken aback at this and looks terrified at the prospect The third is the incident with Chloe that led to Chloe's suicide. Kennedy's actions towards Chloe border on bullying which is bad enough, but then Kennedy feels absolutely no guilt about it at all. There is no self-reflection on her own behaviour or any attempt to change it. Kennedy admits she's a brat which means she acknowledges her behaviour yet she makes no attempt to rectify it. She forces people to endure it regardless of the consequences. Lastly she tries to suck up to Faith. Nobody likes a brown noser and Kennedy thinks doing so will get her a bigger say in things (hence the mutiny to oust Buffy and stick Faith in charge). Also Kennedy feeling entitled to attend Scooby meetings despite not doing anything to earn it is another way of rubbing people up the wrong way.

Kennedy has no development, she's stagnant. She starts off as an entitled brat and she ends as an entitled brat, there is no growth. Chloe's suicide would've been a good opportunity to show Kennedy's vulnerability, that perhaps her bratty personality is just a front she puts up to hide the fact she's actually scared of what's going on around her with the First, Caleb and the bringers. Her lack of remorse over her actions does not endear her to the audience at all.

With Tara, the audience gets to see her grow and improve. The writers overdid her shyness and awkwardness in Season 4 which is why it was gradually dialled back over Season 5 and 6, but Tara never looked down her nose at others, she never forced her presence on others, she never inserted herself into scooby meetings, she was never cruel to others then gloated about it afterwards. Tara was a nice person, not the most dynamic, but she was there for Buffy when she needed her most. Kennedy is the anti-thesis of Tara, and whilst you can see why Willow might be attracted to Tara after Oz, there is no sensible reason why she would be attracted to Kennedy. Woz and Tillow were equal partnerships, Killow had Willow being domineered by Kennedy.
 

Angel6

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Yeah I totally thought she was on the spectrum when I first saw season 4 particularly, I don’t feel that way at all in later seasons. On another note I never really put Tara on as much of a pedestal as a lot of fandom, she was an ok character I liked but I definitely would’ve swapped her out for Oz.

@genghiskhan I know she’s beloved by many, and that’s great!
 
one eyed chicklet
one eyed chicklet
I didn't care for Oz at all, I found him to be a boring and useless character, I was glad when Tara came in.

SunnydaleGlitz

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I think Tara just started off as painfully shy, which didn't last, and which makes sense given her family. I actually found her character endearing because when she did speak up, she had a soothing/calming presence and voice. I think Amber Benson did a great job because in interviews she sounds so different from her character, she made Tara believable.

My dad has Aspergers syndrome and OCPD (which is very different from regular OCD) but it doesn't stop him from being fully functioning, he's actually quite brilliant and has published various books and has a PhD like most in my family, but in conversations there's sometimes things he says, in his responses, which can make him come across as eccentric/ hard to read or sometimes lacking in feeling, sometimes even callous. He sounds mostly like Giles but with a touch of Anya's "un-feeling-ness" and when I was kid, I actually used to feel puzzled/ hurt by some of his shut off responses, he'd seem really indifferent or cold, and it was only when he was diagnosed, years later, that I learned more about Aspergers and OCPD and stopped blaming myself. I do know he loves me and always did even when I was a child, but it did make it harder for him in interactions because he sometimes doesn't catch on to emotional cues but it's never made him 'abnormal' and certainly not intellectually handicapped.
 
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AlphaFoxtrot

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Unlikely. Tara is a fairly inconsistent character, especially in season 4. But I think she was going for shy girl in early appearances. I would like to say, She was a frosh, getting a girlfriend and getting away from her family did her good and turned her into a social butterfly, or at least I would like to say that, as I don't have enough evidence to conclude what grade level she actually was. Heck, if we were to hear she was a vagrant who loitered on the campus and was homeless before shacking up with Willow and was never enrolled in any of the classes she took ... I couldn't refute it.
 
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
She had a dorm room. She was carrying books.
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