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So I take it you have watched Buffy if you clicked on this. In the event that you haven’t, go watch through Season five, if you can make it that far.
As soon as Michelle Trachtenberg appeared on screen as little sis to Buffy Summers in season 5, I denounced Joss Whedon as my spirit animal. I thought a sudden sister was a horrible device to use, and throughout the series I was reluctantly proved correct. The top five list below supports my opinions as to why Dawn didn’t work and murdered all plots in Buffy. I also wanted to see why Dawn was created, and finding an entrancing rumor as to why he ever thought this was a good idea.
- There wasn’t enough foreshadowing to force sense into such a ridiculous plot line. In a dream sequence for Season 4 (This year’s Girl) Faith says “Little sis is coming”, in an attempt to Foreshadow. Even earlier, and generously more obscure, In season 3 (Graduation Day Part Two), we are supposed to equate Dawn’s arrival to Faith’s house cat as Faith counts 7-3-0, which means we’re supposed to count the number of days until the episode Dawn is revealed in, so that Joss can tell us he was planning this. Numbers to fans mean episode numbers, so it would have been much more appropriate to name the episode number instead of 7-3-0, plus, it’s so cryptic that I don’t care. Also, it’s pitiful that Dawn’s introduction ended up being executed so horribly with over 700 days to plan her arrival.
You know who did it better? Charmed. It was a show about three sisters who were witches.They had Paige’s (Rose McGowan) plot picked out well before she graced the screen as the youngest half-sister in season four. After the eldest sister meets an untimely death at the end of season 3, you are certain as that the half-sister was possible because of a forbidden love plotline between the Patty Halliwell (the sisters’ mother) and her guardian White-lighter that was set up and relevant to the story. Also, Paige’s powers were a creative twist, and as you’ll see in reason 5 that Dawn’s power was lame.
- The diary introductory episode was a horrible Point of View change—and LIED. I hate POV changes halfway through a series (refused to get past page 5 in Allegiant by Veronica Roth because I was so mad about how she didn’t think her plot out.) and was glad the cutesy diary was only part of one episode. It’s like Whedon’s only thought was, Let’s connect with the preteen crowd (the age I would have been at the time) and pull Buffy from college. Let’s propel the plot backward because of Dawn. Even worse, the narration is misleading. Dawn says, “She still thinks I’m Little Miss Nobody, just her dumb little sister. Boy, is she in for a surprise,” at the close of the diary episode, but Dawn doesn’t know she’s (kind of) special… Dawn has no idea she is the key, so who is narrating that disconnect? A girl who doesn’t know she’s the key would say, “Just wait until I prove her wrong,” not have complete conviction that Buffy will be surprised. The premise is that DAWN DOESN’T KNOW, and she freaks the hell out over it. Unless the diary is possessed in the last episode of the series, I’m lost.
- You immediately recognize that Mrs. Summers is going to die. Why are they bringing in a sister? Oh no, Mrs. Summers has cancer? Oh no, she’s a dead woman. I liked Joyce Summers and thought she was funny, but I didn’t have any reaction when she died because you knew it was happening, but also that you weren’t supposed to know it was happening. Awkward. Even worse, Buffy doesn’t have a job, and not having her mom around to pay the bills is so annoying and unrealistic. Seeing Buffy’s friends move into the house because they’re too lazy to get jobs is also annoying. They don’t step up and try to help poor Buffy and Dawn who no longer have a mother, which is what friends should do. Joyce’s illness definitely helped Dawn make Buffy a preteen show by moving Buffy back into her childhood home.
- Dawn makes Buffy emotionally unstable. Buffy is boring now. She’s all family and no saving the world. She is a slacker and quits school, instead of being a slayer, and kicking college’s ass while saving the world and taking care of her family. Buffy would have been wiser to show her little sister she could do it all, and that she’s the slayer, not that she is weak. Buffy desired to go to college and was going to prove it to everyone. Also, Buffy went into catatonic shock when Dawn was kidnapped? She didn’t when her mom died, and when her friends were in trouble, she set out to save them, not wallow. I don’t want to see the Slayer giving up—isn’t that against the whole idea? Maybe it was a budget decision that axed the college sets? I just have a hard time believing Buffy wouldn’t save Dawn instead of doing nothing. This also proves that Dawn is annoying and weak, which is the most poignant argument against her according to many viewers. She should be able to be self-sufficient with a little guidance from her sister, but instead, she needs her hand held. Isn’t this story supposed to be about a strong young woman who is a vampire slayer? I repeat… VAMPIRE SLAYER?
- The Key plot line was ordinarily boring. I don’t care about the “Key to another dimension” plotline, because we’ve had the Hellmouth already doing that for us since day one. We can get whatever demons we want without Dawn’s fake diary and reversing the plot. Dawn isn’t special or rare. In order to make herself even more boring, it’s written that Buffy has the “key blood” too because the monks made Dawn out of Summers’ blood. So Buffy was essentially the key the whole time? One out of two keys, anyway. Buffy could have done everything on her own without Dawn even existing. The story was supposed to be about the sacrifice of Buffy for Dawn, but it’s such an unnecessary sacrifice that we can’t help but rewrite the key plot in our heads.Thank a hell-god that Glory was so captivating in order to propel us through that mess.
Joss created Dawn so Buffy didn’t have to have any romantic relationships. I’d ask him, but he’s busy and could probably care less about an author from Ohio. Joss had a soft spot for the beautiful relationships of siblings. To take an only child and suddenly make her whole world about a sibling seems like a major mistake, and I think that’s why people have so many problems with Dawn. Nothing about Dawn makes sense, and the whole story of Buffy was set up contingent on Buffy not having a sibling. Also, just as romantic plots shouldn’t be THE focal point when you’re writing fantasy, why is it okay suddenly for sibling love to be THE focal point of a story? The characters come first, the plot second, and then the relationships third. They all need to be strong, and the worst thing you can do is propel love to number one when you aren’t writing romance. Siblings aren’t exempt.
Buffy had a whole secret life with her father that could have been explored, and she could have had a real sibling or family member through that side. Why wasn’t her father developed as a character? He doesn’t call, and he should have taken custody of Dawn when their mother died, right? If Buffy needed a real sibling, there was the perfect opportunity. It would have been a half-sibling, but that is so much better than adding fake memories to characters. Was that supposed to work on viewers too?
Perhaps Dawn will grow on me? Right now I’m at the part where Tara and Willow are squatting at Buffy’s house because they’re too lazy to get jobs, and no one knows Buffy was dead, even though there is a gravestone in the cemetery that blatantly says, “Buffy Summers”. I have a feeling this series is dead, and its only purpose of any of this writing is to appease diary-writers who are twelve. If you wanted to scale down and reverse the plot progress he should have just introduced a younger slayer and started a new series. I don’t think I can finish this experiment in writing that Whedon calls, Buffy.
Romarin Demetri is a fantasy author and recipient of multiple 5/5 star editorial reviews from Readers’ Favorite.