Marti Noxon has made quite the name for herself since her time as an executive producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; after helming Lifetime’s flagship dramedy UnREAL, she’s currently taking on both AMC’s Dietland and HBO’s highly anticipated Sharp Objects. The prolific producer sat down with Vulture earlier this week and spoke on her roots as a Buffy producer and the show’s groundbreaking lesbian couple. But she admitted has some regrets about Willow and Tara’s storyline.
Played by Amber Benson, Tara was introduced in Season Four as a love interest of Willow (Alyson Hannigan), which was monumental at the time. In the late 90s, queer female storylines were few and far between, and rarely were they ever portrayed in a positive light. But in Season Six, Tara was tragically killed off the show. Not only did it tear open the hearts of Buffy‘s queer fans, but it contributed to the harmful “Bury Your Gays” trope, which refers to a pattern of queer women being killed off on TV (and thus rendered disposable).
“There were parts of Season Six where I feel we went too far,” Noxon admitted. “We pushed into some categories that almost felt sadistic and that Buffy was volunteering for things that were beyond just ‘bad choices’ and were almost irresponsible for the character. That may have to do with my own history! The personal, right? It’s personal.” She added, “And I think that killing Tara was – in retrospect, of all the people, did she have to die?”
Noxon was the producer who brought Amber Benson on to the show to play Tara, so it’s understandable that she’d have personal regrets about the character’s murder.
Unfortunately, the Bury Your Gays trope is still an extremely present and pervasive element of LGBTQ TV narratives. In 2017, LGBT Fans Deserve Better, an informational website on queer representation in media, conducted a study which found that 62 queer female characters died over the course of the last two television seasons—the highest number of queer female deaths on-screen since the trope was first analyzed in 1976.
Regardless, Buffy was one of the most important, if not the most important, show for queer female narratives in the 90s and early 2000s—and its fans have stood the test of time.
Rumors have been swirling of a Buffy reboot after Fox TV group chair Gary Newman hinted that the show was ripe for revisiting, as long as the show’s creator Joss Whedon was involved.