Although I haven’t blogged since the first episode, I’m still watching Dollhouse on a regular basis. I’m slightly torn, as I feel the show is getting better, but there still have been major screw-ups and missed opportunities. I will most likely finish out this season but we’ll see if I return.
One thing this has caused me to do is think back over the first season of Buffy. I didn’t start watching until the third season and quickly caught up. I also was a high school girl not as strong in her feminism, so I just appreciated things like Seth Green and a girl beating people up. I’ve been wondering how I would view the first season of Buffy if I was watching it now with a feminist lens.
Buffy, as I tend to view her, is a girl/woman who fights the system while dealing with issues of identity and power. She does things her own way and trusts herself and her intuition. However, going by the first season, that was not always the case and I can see now the progression she had to go to to be the person at the end of season seven.
Buffy starts off this season with a move to Sunnydale after being kicked out of Hemry. She wants to start over and be a normal kid but on her first day she is confronted with the fact that her calling is not going away and neither is Giles (thank god). She resists and takes it less than serious but when her new friend Jesse is caught and killed she realizes she has to be responsible and do what only she can do.
She breaks little rules throughout the first season, such as keeping Willow and Xander nearby and included (which is a great assest and the first real example of how important it was for her to do things her way) and by refusing to be intimidated by Snyder. However, most of her rule breaking is typical adolescent and tends towards incredibly stereotypical behavior. She doesn’t just want to be a strong girl, she wants to be a cheerleader, she wants to date dreamy boys, she wants to go to prom. Not that any of these are inherently bad but also very gender specific. Her image of a normal life is very stereotypical in nature.
Her relationship with Angel is also incredibly passive. She loves him but listens to others (Xander, Giles, Angel) that it is wrong for her to be with him. She lets others views and opinions interfer with her feelings and she has yet to gain the ability to view the world for herself and learn to make her own judgments about individuals. As much as she may claim to buck the system, she is still firmly in its claws and buying into it’s beliefs.
The final kicker is the season Finale, Prophecy Girl. Giles and Angel had been talking about and managed to get ahold of a book with prophecies, some that concern the Slayer (all without mentioning it to Buffy). Buffy eventually hears them discussing the prophecy that states she will go to face and the Master and she will die. The scene where Buffy, who thinks she’s just spying on Angel, unexpectedly hears this news is heartbreaking. She had no concerns about the two of them talking and trusted them implicitly. Then, she gets to hear two men talking about her life and this time it’s about her dying. Just as when Merrick approached her and informed her about her calling, now another man is telling her that this means her death. Buffy’s reaction is sorrowful and angry, as it should be. She never asked for this and she has yet to fully embrace it as a part of her but more as something she’s told she has to do. Of course, Giles informs her that she can’t quit and she has to face the Master anyway. Buffy, herself, makes the decision to do it after seeing the hurt Willow has gone through, but her decision is colored by the fact that she feels there is no choice and she has to do it.
When Buffy meets the Master and he tells her that by coming she fulfilled the prophecy and if she had refused (like she wanted to), nothing bad would have happened. The realization in Buffy’s eyes is painful as she realizes trusting in the system has done nothing but gotten her killed and hurt the world.
Of course we know how it works out, due to the one major deviation from her role she made (befriending Xander and Willow) Xander is unable to accept the prophecy as fact as is there to save her, something Angel (who adhered to the system) would not have been able to do. Buffy then goes on to kick the Master’s Ass and claim victory. However, one thing that she still will deal with in the second season is the fact that blindly following and believing in the system and The Watcher’s Council is not always the best for her and that she needs to learn to trust herself more.