It was really hard to pick someone for the second BAMFile, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer seemed like an excellent place to choose from. There are, of course, a lot of great characters on that show (and many will likely be included in this series), but I thought I’d use this opportunity to spotlight someone who never really got enough credit: Tara Maclay.
Tara was an amazing, though underrated, character. She was good, honest, and intensely in love with Willow (so much so that we unfortunately never really got a fully fleshed-out Tara-centric storyline). Though I mostly love Tara and Willow as a unit (#tallow4ever), and I am obsessed with the very 90s witchcraft-as-a-metaphor-for-lesbianism thing that they were a part of, Tara stood out individually. She somehow managed to deal with adversity, in the form of extreme shyness and a manipulative, abusive family, while never doubting herself, her sexuality, or her magical abilities, and was instrumental in starting Willow down the path of witchcraft (for better or for worse).
Tara is the group’s conscience, and there’s a reason that when Buffy has prophetic dreams, they manifest as a warning from Tara. Tara’s also the only one who truly notices how badly Buffy is readjusting to the world after her second death. She’s so incorruptible that, in season seven, when The First Evil was taking the shape of the gang’s dead loved ones, actress Amber Benson wouldn’t reprise her role. She’s the only member of the group who never flirted with evil, and she showed that strength could be a quiet, compassionate thing, in a nice contrast to Buffy’s beat-em-up style.
Of course, it wouldn’t be possible to talk about Tara without mentioning her importance as one half of the first lead lesbian couple on television. Though she and Willow didn’t kiss until the show’s fifth season (and were only shown in sexual situations after the show had switched networks), the effect of having two well-adjusted women in love with each other was unmistakably positive. In Benson’s own words:
“I thought I was on some science fiction show. I had no clue I was going to have some sort of impact on a whole group of people… Alyson and I would get letters, and you don’t realize the impact you’re making until you really start thinking about it. When kids come up and say, ‘I didn’t kill myself because of Buffy and your relationship,’ it blows your mind. It wasn’t about two women making out. It was about two women who fell in love with each other and happened, just happened, to have the same genitalia.”
Say it with me now: “Awwwwwwwwww.”
Basically, this whole post is one big excuse for listening to this on repeat:
I’m convinced that the romance between Tara and Willow made a significant difference for viewers struggling with their sexual identity. I still think it’s one of the few good on-screen representations of homosexuality. Plus, Tara and Willow are just too damn cute together.
Guess it’s time to find me a Buffy DVD set now…