3. Tara Maclay- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I’ll put my cards on the table here, I actually have no problem with the death of Tara but for a couple of reasons I think I have to include her. Firstly if you are going to do an article about death and fan outrage, you have to include Joss Whedon somewhere and as this is limited to TV that means no Wash from Firefly. Secondly, anyone who was watching Buffy at the time will remember the ridiculous amount of anger this generated – it really did push the limit of how much we as people should invest in fictional characters. So even though I personally wasn’t bothered, why exactly did this anger so many people?
Tara and Willow certainly weren’t the first gay couple on television – they’re not even the first lesbian couple – but they are considered to be an important landmark for LGBT representation in entertainment. Perhaps this is because Buffy was an important show for a generation of young people which was more accepting of alternative lifestyles. maybe it was simply a well written love story between two people, or – if we are being honest – they were two hot women that made out with each other, and who doesn’t want to see that? Willow and Tara had to overcome a number of obstacles to maintain their relationship, none more troublesome than Willows growing obsession with dark magic. In the sixth season, however, they were together and happy- until tragedy struck when Tara was killed by a stray bullet.
This death led to a massive outcry from certain sections of the fan base, the producers were inundated with letters from disgruntled fans, some of whom vowed to never watch the show again. Things got especially out of hand when people began to label Joss Whedon as homophobic. I mean, writing letters is one thing but labelling the guy a bigot is way over the line. The episode featuring Tara’s death aired in 2002, just as the digital age was beginning to take hold, this made the reaction that much more venomous. It has been over decade now and debates still continue to this day over whether it was necessary or not. A similar scenario would play out several years later in the BBC show Torchwood- when the death of character Ianto Jones led to cries of homophobia, despite the fact that the creator and lead actor are both gay men.
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