Freudian Fridays: Buffy Summers

It’s Friday again! Time to look at the many issues messing with the heads of popular fantasy characters. If you remember from last week, we’re looking at the daddy issues of female characters in urban fantasy.

So let’s put the Slayer on the couch, shall we?

Buffy’s parents divorced when she was about fifteen. Her nightmares reveal that she’s afraid her father left because of her. She makes scattered comments throughout the show about her father not caring enough to make an effort to see or—after her mother dies—care for her. Because of this, Buffy takes on a parental role to her sister, Dawn.

She’s deeply attached to her Watcher, Rupert Giles, and looks on him as a father figure. After her mother dies, Giles becomes a pseudo-parental figure, one Buffy expects to deal with Dawn’s thieving ways. Giles eventually leaves in order to make Buffy stand on her own.

She dates much (much!) older men. Angel, the love of Buffy’s life, is 200ish years older than her. Spike is 100ish years older than her. Both are powerful, violent men, and that violence tends to bleed into the physical aspects of her relationships. Part of why Riley, her human boyfriend, flees is because he feels inadequate next to her strength.

All in all, what do these things tell us? Buffy’s a badass gal, we know that, and physically stronger than any normal guy. I don’t think we can say, though, that she’s hunting for a strong man who can protect her. No—I think she’s looking for an equal, not a superior. And that’s tough for the Slayer to find, if not impossible.

Daddy issues? Sure. She has issues with her father and issues with her father-figure. But those issues don’t define her: they’re just one shade of her character. She’s not looking for a new father. She’s looking for a partner… and, being the Slayer, she may never find one.

What do you think? Are Buffy’s relationships inevitably doomed because of her past history with men? Is Angel the only man for her? Is she destined to stand alone? What do these issues tell you about Buffy’s character?

3 thoughts on “Freudian Fridays: Buffy Summers

  1. I have always been in the Spike camp for Buffy, which is something I plan to address one of these days on my blog. I think Angel is her on-off relationship, and that relationship is anything but healthy. Not the least of the issues being that he loses his soul when he sleeps with her, which mirrors the behavior of non-supernatural abusers. “You see what you do to me? You see what you make me do?!”

    Anyway. I don’t think her future is doomed due to her past. As much as Joss loves to keep her suffering, I have some hope for Buffy in the future, whether it’s Spike she eventually turns to when her cookie dough is done baking or someone totally new — though I agree with you that he will inevitably be more than human.

    • You know, I prefer Spike, too. Angel was always way too broody for me–never trust a broody guy.

      Conan O’Brien, when he was still on The Tonight Show, had a skit in which he had a broody teen vampire assistant named Cody. Perhaps you’ve seen it. Cody inevitably failed to get Conan’s coffee exactly right or some such, wound up sad, and ran out into the sunshine to end his life. Around the time this skit aired, I was watching Buffy for the first time. I thought Angel was a stupid name, so I dubbed Angel Cody. I have to remind myself that he’s not really called Cody… I’ve also started calling all broody, sexy vampires Cody, so The Vampire Diaries is known to my other half as “A Tale of Two Codies.”

      Anyway. I’ve been wanting a chance to tell that story, and you were the perfect unwitting victim.

      Back on topic, I’m curious to see where Whedon takes Buffy in Series 8 and beyond. I was sad but satisfied (sadisfied?) with the ending with Spike in Season 7. It was fitting, I thought, that they grew into their relationship just as it ended. Though I hear he’s a ghost now? I guess I’ll find out.

  2. This is a great series of posts. I know my daughter would vote for Buffy and Spike, but I’d like to see Buffy with a version of Giles in her own age group – maybe Wesley after he grew up a little on Angel. it would be nice to see her with someone who doesn’t fly the demon flag quite so high.

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