Anna S. (eliade) wrote,
Anna S.


Was noodling last night on the over-ambitious and possibly insane idea of an alternate season five sprouting off from "Sidelines." It's an idea with appeal, but there are also stumbling blocks. Right off I'm torn between the desire to capture the exact tone and shape of canon, which inextricably includes audience level (the more or less PG rating of network TV), and the inclination to write happy, self-indulgent smut. Hey, what if BtVS moved to Showtime? I wondered. It could air right before "Queer as Folk."


Another drawback is the gravity of the canonical season five arc, and the expectations that may set, conscious or unconscious, in readers. The season is one of the most Buffy-centric (and since they're *all* Buffy-centric, that's saying something), and revolves around family, responsibility, sickness, and death. So what happens if you radically wrench away from that path--let Joyce live, for instance; remove Dawn entirely, give Giles a more robust purpose, forego Buffy's ultimate self-sacrifice. Because I wouldn't want to rehash old ground--especially when it's already been done very well, and in an S/X vein, in "Sweet Revenge."

I was also thinking again on the Xander arc debate. There's more ground I don't particularly want to rehash at the moment, but I did have one thought, which I hope isn't all that provocative. And that was to wonder if there's a difference in how viewers identify the attraction of characters. Say that Xander's arc is one of increasing maturity, solidity, reliability, friendship. He becomes more grounded, more grown up. He becomes more self-aware, about his own role, path, purpose. I think that's a valid textual reading--I believe myself that this is what we're meant to see. But where viewer taste might differ is on the question of how interesting this arc is. For some, Xander's matured personality might make him all the more attractive. For others, perverse creatures like me, it dulls his prior shine a bit. Because I *like* neurosis, edginess, darkness, kink, and rage--that's my thing. I don't just like it--I prefer it in my characters.

Which isn't to say the characters shouldn't grow up. But whereas on the one hand you have a canonical Xander going down one path--becoming a working man, a supportive friend, a low-key lieutenant to Commander Buffy--I can see another possible path. I mean, he's only 22, for crying out loud. Sure, some people can take on a maturity beyond their years, especially when they've been tempered by fire, as we all know Xander has. (The death of friends, apocalypses, Anya.) But he's not all Together Guy. There are things we can take, canonical things, and use to build a different Xander. Reroute the path a bit, and you could have a Xander who drinks too much and yet keeps it together--a hard recreational drinker, classic young-punk behavior. He goes to bars without his Scooby friends, because he's trying to carve out a bit of an identity for himself. He's trying to make other friends--ordinary guys from work, who have normal lives, the kind he used to hope for. Shoots pool, drinks with them. He's a bit hardened by all his battles; he's switching back and forth constantly between two worlds--goes to work, then hits the graveyards. Comes off duty from kicking demon ass and hits the bars. He goes through a period where he sleeps around like crazy, making up for lost time--all those geeky high school years--with dozens of Nancy's ("Beneath You").

And so on. I don't think that's extrapolating too far off from a Xander we periodically saw glimpses of in seasons five and six, if you spun the bottle a bit differently. And call me shallow, but Xander of the brittle jokes and occasionally jerky behavior--even the Xander who deliberately let Buffy go off to kill her boyfriend--this was a more interesting Xander than the one who fixes windows, no matter how noble a job that is in the mythos of the Buffyverse. More interesting to watch, because more fraught with opportunities for conflict, friction, self-contradiction--a loyal pit-bull of a friend whose motives nonetheless may not always be pure. Okay. That was a lot more than I meant to say. And now I'll just flit off and hope Te doesn't tear me a new one. {g}

Did I mention I love Xander? Because I do. But my love of a character, and admiration of his better qualities, doesn't necessarily match up with my taste in drama--a sweet tooth for conflict and high emotion, for the exquisitely painful and crazy-making balance between worlds of dark and light.

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