In the sixth episode of the fifthe season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tara’s family arrives in Sunnydale with a secret, and Tara makes a terrible mistake to hide her true identity. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
Everything I Disliked About “Family”
- The fact that I did not have this episode in my life on November 7, 2000, the day it aired.
I know that after “New Moon Rising,” this is going to be me repeating myself. I don’t care. Even by some stroke of luck, every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the worst thing I have ever seen, I will still love this show. I don’t care. I needed an episode like this in my life MORE than “New Moon Rising.” I needed someone, anyone, to not only tell me that it was perfectly fine to be gay, but that it was perfectly fine to leave your family behind in order to pursue happiness.
I ran away from home on September 16, 2000. Less than two months later, this episode aired, and it was around that time that I felt my estrangement from my family was tearing me apart. Some of my friends supported what I had done, and the other half felt I had made a grave mistake, that family was the only thing that mattered, that I should return home and learn to put up with how I was treated just so I could be a part of a “family.” But how could these people understand me? I had already given my family six years to treat me like I was a human being, and it hadn’t work. How much more patient was I supposed to be? How many more times was I supposed to just accept being told I was subhuman for appearing to be gay? How worthless was I supposed to feel in order to be part of a family?
I am very happy to be so close with my mother and my brother these days, but at the time, my unhappiness was so extreme that I didn’t think I’d actually survive another day in that house. As difficult as it was to run away and have to support myself the last two years of high school, the freedom I experienced was intoxicating, a form of liberation I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world.
Do you know how badly I could have used an episode like this to show to my friends to say to them, “THIS IS WHAT IT IS LIKE. THIS IS WHY I AM MAKING THIS CHOICE” and they’d possibly get it? And then it wouldn’t be distracting because pretty much no one knew who Amy Adams was and seriously it’s Amy Adams what are you doing on this show. Okay, that’s not the point. The point is that I can’t even imagine what my life would have been like if someone told me that I could make my own family. I think more than anything, I had a difficult time coping with the loss of my family. I lived with so many families those two years, and not once did I ever felt like I was a significant part of them. I was always the outsider, always the odd man out, always the one forgotten or left behind or ignored. And it’s not like I blame anyone for that. That’s not an easy thing to deal with, and for the most part, the people I lived with treated me well. So I’m not criticizing them. But you can’t just be instantly ingrained into an emotional unit like that, and it certainly didn’t help that I rarely stayed in the same place for very long.
I know that those two years of my life drastically affected how I’d come to perceive myself after that. To this day, I never quite feel like I belong to anything at all. I had a therapist once when I was younger, and she believed that the emotional detachment I experienced from the time I was eleven until I graduated high school was largely responsible for this sensation. I’d like to tell her that she’s wrong because clearly it’s because I never watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I mean, I’m totally right, right??!?!?!?
Ugh, I just can’t get over how amazing it is that Buffy turns to Mr. Maclay and stands up for Tara and ALL OF MY TEARS spilled forth. (I’m writing this on a bus to Las Vegas so WOW REALLY AWKWARD WHOOPS.) I wish someone had stood up for me like that when I most needed it, you know? A television show did it. Man, fuck people who say television can’t positively change lives. You don’t know shit!
But seriously, THIS ISN’T THE ONLY GOOD THING IN THIS EPISODE. Everything about it is just brilliant. I love that opening shot of Tara climbing into bed, and the way that a queer relationship is portrayed with normalcy. Whedon doesn’t make it out to be a big deal at all. They’re just two people who love each other sleeping together and I just love this, okay? I adore the image of Buffy and Giles sitting in the darkness, talking about Dawn. I’m ecstatic that Buffy actually told someone what was going on, and that that person was Giles. GILES! Spike’s sex scene made me laugh and cringe at the same time! Miss Kitty Fantastico appeared again! Riley’s story is getting progressively more depressing! No, seriously, it is. I just feel like it’s a matter of time before he either breaks things off or gets killed, and the wait is rather agonizing.
OH GOD HOW CREEPY IS THAT SCENE WHERE THE LEI-ACHS CREEP THROUGH THE MAGIC SHOP AND NO ONE CAN SEE THEM WHY IS THIS SHOW SO CONTENT TO GIVE ME NIGHTMARES. And now we know the lady in the red dress has a holy name? WHERE IS SHE FROM? I DON’T GET IT AT ALL. Also, did anyone else think the actor who played Donny looked like Joss Whedon? I couldn’t get it out of my head SORRY IF I JUST RUINED THIS ALL FOR YOU.
I just… this episode is so well done. Well written, well acted, and immensely powerful to me because of the parallel to my own life. I’m so happy for Willow and Tara, for a queer relationship to be portrayed so beautifully on the screen, and for the image of Willow and Tara levitating above the dancefloor, deeply in love. Bless this wonderful, wonderful show.
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