?

Log in

StephenT [userpic]

(Meta) Dawn's relationship with Willow and Tara

9th June 2009 (16:24)
Tags: ,

Reading deird1's commentary on her Dawn fic made me think about the issue of Dawn's relationship with Willow and Tara. And since nobody asked me for a commentary on any of my own fics, I'm going to write about this instead. :-)

Some of you may remember the controversy a couple of years ago about 'The Long Way Home', when Dawn says "Will is like a mom to me". That provoked a lot of negative comment back then, along the lines of "Since when?" and "Did Joss even watch the last two seasons of the show?" Speaking for myself, I was a little surprised to see that Dawn would go quite that far in how she described their relationship, but thinking about it, I could well understand how she'd feel that way.

Look at it from Dawn's angle. She had a happy childhood with her mother, her father, and her big sister. Then she discovered that all of that was a lie: she had no real parents, no real existence. She was just a fake memory. In reality, Dawn has never set eyes on Hank Summers. Joyce Summers died just a few months after Dawn became human. Buffy Summers died a few weeks after that. So who is Dawn's real family? Well, how about the two women who took her in when her sister died, and looked after her as if she were their own daughter. Two people who cared about her not because they were magically programmed by a bunch of Czech monks to protect her, but because they genuinely liked her and valued her as a person in her own right. To someone like Dawn in Season 5 and 6 whose personal sense of identity was so fragile, I think that would be a very powerful emotional affirmation.

And so as Season 6 begins, we see Willow, Tara and Dawn living together as a family. Tara's "Funny shapes or rounds?" question as she makes pancakes for Dawn's breakfast is the epitome of domestic bliss. Rather symbolically, not only have they set up house together, but Willow and Tara are now sleeping in the bedroom Dawn's mother used to use.

Of course, it's easy to miss this because Dawn's fraught relationship with her sister, once Buffy returns from the dead, takes centre stage. It's only to be expected given that Buffy's emotional conflicts are the centrepiece of the show, and I'm not denying that Dawn loves her sister. Also, Buffy is her legal guardian and thus supposed to be responsible for her welfare. But it's Willow and Tara who seem to pay most attention to Dawn's wellbeing, such as making sure she gets off to school okay. Whenever Dawn gets injured, it usually seems to be Willow who takes care of her, bandages her wounds and makes sure she's comfortable. When they find the online webcam showing Spike and Anya having sex in 'Entropy', it's Willow who stops to think that maybe Dawn shouldn't see this, and tries to cover her eyes. Lots of little hints to show the relationship between them.

Most obvious, though, is Dawn's devastated reaction to Willow and Tara splitting up, the unsubtle way she tries to manipulate them into getting back together, and her overwhelming squeefulness when they finally do. She doesn't react in nearly the same way to Xander and Anya or Buffy and Riley or Spike. I'm not the first to observe that the scene in 'Smashed' where Tara takes Dawn for a movie and milkshakes reads just like a divorced parent on an access visit.

For the record, I would argue that it's really Tara whom Dawn would say was "like a Mom to me". Willow's relationship with her seems to me more like a cool but slightly disreputable aunt; the one who spoils her and leads her astray by letting her get up to things the more responsible adults frown on. (References include 'Forever' and 'Wrecked'.) But Willow and Tara came as a unit, and if Dawn sees Tara as her foster-mother, what else can she call Willow?

I realise this view is controversial. Opponents point to the negative feelings Dawn expressed for Willow after 'Wrecked' and again after 'Grave'. My point, though, is that Dawn's feelings of hurt and betrayal were all the stronger exactly because Willow was a person she loved and trusted so much. If Willow were just "one of her sister's friends", I doubt she'd be so upset... and even so, one episode after Willow returns in 'Same Time, Same Place' Dawn is happily chattering away with her while hanging out and helping her pack for college, exactly as if nothing had happened between them.

A more reasonable objection to the central importance of Willow and Tara in Dawn's life is really that the show spends so little time on it. As I said above, it's her relationship with Buffy that gets most camera time and dialogue. It's easy to just pass over her interaction with the two witches as being no different in essence to her relationship with, say, Giles or Spike or Xander. However, I've been noticing several signs recently that the actual writers and actors on the show saw the link between Dawn, Willow and Tara as being stronger than, perhaps, comes across on screen. It's nothing specific, just a matter of phrasing and emphasis. It does suggest to me, though, that it might be something that Mutant Enemy took for granted about their characters and would be surprised to discover that many of the fans didn't see it that way...

The first example is the dialogue from 'The Long Way Home' I quoted before:
"I'm not trying to slam you, I swear, but Will is like a mom to me."

Another line by Joss from a later issue of the comic gives Willow's own perspective:
"When Buffy died... I couldn't admit it, but Tara and I were happy. Not in general, I mean we mourned, but together... [...] We could have moved on. Raised Dawnie, moved somewhere nice. But I chose. I chose to put Tara in a bullet's path."

However, Joss isn't the only one to see things this way. This is Amber Benson's opinion on the Willow/Tara relationship, speaking at the Paleyfest reunion panel:
"I just think that Joss did a beautiful thing; he created this relationship, and that's what we need to focus on. The fact that we had this beautiful relationship with two people, who happened to be women, and I think they had the best relationship on the show. I think... they raised, or helped to raise Dawn, I think they were there for her."

Although Sarah Michelle Gellar's interjection after Amber's comment is very funny, especially for the pouty tone of voice she put on:
"Hey, I was there! I participated! I was a little dead but I participated!"
It's interesting that Sarah herself sees things as "While Buffy was dead, Willow and Tara became Dawn's new parents." Realistically, it was just a short time that Buffy was in the grave - 147 days, as I believe someone once observed - but it feels as if it were a lot longer for the characters.

Finally, I recently bought the final Buffy Omnibus of the old Dark Horse comics, and this one contains a story, 'Wilderness', that was written by Amber Benson along with Chris Golden. And in it, Willow and Tara take Dawn with them on a driving holiday looking at mystical sites in northern California. Just like a family. :-)

(I was also tickled by the way Amber wrote a scene for Tara where - reluctantly and against all her principles, but as a last resort to save human lives, including her own - she has to use dark magic to incinerate a demon, and her eyes go all scary and black. I think she was jealous that she never got to do that on the show herself.)

So my view of Dawn's relationship with Willow and Tara may not be universally accepted in fandom, but at least I can take comfort in knowing that Joss Whedon, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Amber Benson agree with me. :-)
 

Comments

Posted by: fix me, motherfucker! i'm standing right here. (immortality)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 15:41 (UTC)
magic ↔ the dark inside of me.

Honestly, I completely agree with everything you've said. Buffy always felt like the cool-but-distant older sister to me as far as Dawn was concerned. She never seemed like a mother figure. But Willow and Tara were very much like parents to Dawn.

Which is why, I think Dawn is always so willing to forgive Willow for her faults (much like a child would forgive a parent's faults), yet tends to harbor grudges and/or resentment towards Buffy, at least for small periods of time (which would be natural for siblings).

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 15:53 (UTC)

Ooh, good point about Dawn's willingness to forgive Willow.

I think you're right about the essential sisterness of the Buffy+Dawn relationship too. (Better not use a / there, it might be misunderstood.*g*) Dawn simultaneouly admired and resented Buffy, saw her a a role model to emulate and a target to surpass, craved her approval but resented her supervision. Classic sibling rivalry, nothing parent/child about it at all. In 'Tabula Rasa' they even recognised they were sisters when they had amnesia...

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 15:43 (UTC)
will53

Makes sense to me. :)

Though...

Two people who cared about her not because they were magically programmed by a bunch of Czech monks to protect her, but because they genuinely liked her and valued her as a person in her own right.

I have heard it theorized that the monks magically influenced all the Scoobies to feel protective affection for Dawn (At one point in No Place Like Home when Willow is defending Dawn to Buffy, she mentions how she "doesn't know why" she likes Dawn). Also, some people theorize that the monks also influenced Spike to be protective of Dawn.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 15:57 (UTC)

It's a fair point that the monks' spell might have made everyone protective of Dawn, not just Buffy - but I do think it affected her more than anyone else.

However, look at it from Dawn's point of view. She was specifically given to the Slayer as a sister so Buffy would protect her. I can easily imagine her making Buffy the focus of her feeings of existential angst, and resenting the fact that her relationship with Buffy was literally artificial. Other people caring about her would feel more real and natural to her, I think, even if in reality their feeligns were also magically influenced.

Posted by: curiouswombat (curiouswombat)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 16:18 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:15 (UTC)

Posted by: The One Who Isn't Chosen (gabrielleabelle)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 16:24 (UTC)

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 15:52 (UTC)

Not only do I completely agree, I find it completely obvious and was slightly confused that someone could miss that.

Maybe it's easy to miss if you never had relationships of that kind yourself or in your social circle. I've had "adopted" children/friends like that so I can't not see it.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 16:00 (UTC)

Few people deny tha bond between Dawn and Tara, because Tara came across as so motherly; but I've seen lots of people argue that there was nothing special between Dawn and Willow that wasn't also there with all the other Scoobies, or even that Dawn disliked Willow (based on her comments in episodes like STSP).

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 16:05 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 20:34 (UTC)

Posted by: Two legs good, four legs okay (nothorse)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 20:50 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 20:52 (UTC)

Posted by: erimthar (erimthar)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 16:43 (UTC)
pic#89543843

I agree completely with your view of the situation. On those occasions when Dawn was justifiably angry with Willow, it was more like the anger of a daughter whose mother comes home drunk. (Or, you know, tries to destroy the world.) Anger born from the fear of seeing a parent suddenly exposed as fallible.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 20:54 (UTC)

Good description. Except phrasing it like that now makes me wonder how Dawn would get along with Faith, if they had more time to spend together, given how much they have in common...

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 20:55 (UTC)

Yay!

Come on, somebody out there has to disagree with me. I though this was controversial... :-)

Posted by: lusciousxander (lusciousxander)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 16:57 (UTC)
Parents made by adis723

I never understood all the anger toward that line. Willow and Tara were obviously the parental figures to Dawn in S6 -I've always considered Buffy and Xander to be the parental figures in S7.

Willow is like the screw-up mother that disappoints her daughter occasionally, but notice how Dawn's anger towards Willow doesn't last long. She was upset when Buffy wanted to get rid of Willow's stuff in Gone -the episode right behind Wrecked. And as you said, she was all happy and chipper about Willow going back to college, giving advices and all that.

During S7, Willow had been there for Dawn more than Buffy, taking care of her wounds and mental state in Sleeper. It was Willow who went back home, found Dawn and comforted her, not Buffy.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 20:58 (UTC)

I noticed that in S7, Dawn does complain about Willow that she's "Here, but not really here" or something like that. I do think it took a while to recapture the trust - and of course, Willow was gone for a long time. But yes, even in S7 it's usually Willow who does the "looking after Dawn" stuff.

I wonder if Dawn would have "evil stepmother" issues with Kennedy? :-)

Edited at 2009-06-09 20:58 (UTC)

Posted by: mr_waterproof (mr_waterproof)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 17:58 (UTC)

I'm surprised everyone is writing off the relationship between Dawn and Xander as no more special than Dawn and AN other Scooby. During seasons 7 and 8 it seems to me Xander has had more time for Dawn than anyone else did.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 21:04 (UTC)

I don't think Dawn sees Xander as a parent figure, though. :-)

She remembers having a big crush on him as a teen - but now knows that was a fake memory. In S5 - 6 I think he was just one of Buffy's friends who's cool to hang out with but has an annoying girlfriend. But true, they did start to bond more in S7 when Tara was dead, Willow was suffering from PTSD and then preoccupied with Kennedy, and Buffy was busy with the Potentials and the First and Dawn and Xander were pretty much lumped together as the Non-Superpowered Duo.

I still get more of a friends vibe than a parental vibe from them, though. Maybe they'll be a couple by the end of S8. :-)

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 22:00 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 22:18 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 22:13 (UTC)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 23:41 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 19:33 (UTC)

For the record, I would argue that it's really Tara whom Dawn would say was "like a Mom to me". Willow's relationship with her seems to me more like a cool but slightly disreputable aunt; the one who spoils her and leads her astray by letting her get up to things the more responsible adults frown on.

Yes. This. I feel like calling Tara "mom" would so easily roll of the tongue, but calling Willow that especially after she's been missing for months on end and hasn't come to help Dawnie so she's no longer a Giant. These disappointing behaviors smack more of Hank or Buffy then of Joyce. Willow is Dawn's Buffank, who's occasionally absent, self-involved but still loves her to death. Tara is like Joyce, like a mom to her.

Realistically, it was just a short time that Buffy was in the grave - 147 days, as I believe someone once observed - but it feels as if it were a lot longer for the characters.

Because when does Buffy really return, truly return to her relationship role the way she was before her death in The Gift? Buffy used to be the calm yet chaotic supportive center for all the other relationships. In the eye of the storm, she was there to give a steady, courageous hand to Willow, Xander and Dawn through their troubles. Her strength was so strong that it extended to her loved ones, encompassing them, shielding them from the rain. When she's resurrected, she becomes even more withdrawn, no longer reaching out but hunkering inward. When she finally crawls out of her Grave, glimmers of this Buffy return but are almost immediately redirected to Spike and the Potentials. Dawn...she's left out in the cold and she's been like this ever since. In Season 8, she's still not the focus of Buffy's attention even though Living Doll shows Buffy realizing her mistakes and trying to make good.

Interesting meta and I mostly agree with it barring some symbolic connotation and semantics. :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 21:10 (UTC)

Willow is yet another of the Buffyverse's Bad Father Figures, except she's female so she has to be a mother figure instead. :-)

After all, while Dawn told Buffy she'd only talk about what happened to her (the whole Kenny situation) to Willow, in the event she couldn;'t tell Willow either, and only Xander eventually wheedled it out of her. So maybe Dawn isn't that close to Willow as "Mom" implies... but she is still very close to her - and at the time she said it she was terrified about what might happen to Willow - so that word came to hand when she was searching for a word to describe it, that's the one she hit on. Notice how shocked and upset Buffy herself was to hear Dawn call Willow that - it certainly wasn't the way Buffy thought Dawn saw Willow.


I mostly agree with it barring some symbolic connotation and semantics

I'm glad somebody finally found something to disagree with! :-)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 21:17 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 22:17 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 22:21 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 22:33 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 22:45 (UTC)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 23:40 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 23:49 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:21 (UTC)

Posted by: Emmie (angearia)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:26 (UTC)

Posted by: The Anti-OTP (snowpuppies)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 21:10 (UTC)

Great job. I definitely agree that Tara was more the parent, but seeing her and Willow as a unit makes sense.

:)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 21:11 (UTC)

Well, what else can you call your female parent's spouse?
:-)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 23:38 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:38 (UTC)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 01:00 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 01:08 (UTC)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 18:39 (UTC)

Posted by: none of the above (frogfarm)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 21:15 (UTC)

Yes to everything. I was thinking Tara=Mom, and then...well, yeah.

And I can't believe NOBODY picked a story of yours for commentary! How about "From Ancient Grudge" :)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:40 (UTC)

"Will's like a female Dad to me" doesn't really work...

And yay! for someone asking for a commentary. I wonder why you picked that story? ;-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 19:01 (UTC)

Posted by: Beer Good (beer_good_foamy)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 23:15 (UTC)

Excellent post as always, and for the most part I agree with you, especially when it comes to the Willow/Tara/Dawn family unit in s6, which I love dearly. It's just that I also agree very much with this bit

For the record, I would argue that it's really Tara whom Dawn would say was "like a Mom to me". Willow's relationship with her seems to me more like a cool but slightly disreputable aunt; the one who spoils her and leads her astray by letting her get up to things the more responsible adults frown on.

...which still makes me think the line in TLWH feels clumsy and out of left field, especially when we're told that nobody's seen Willow in six (or twelve, or whatever) months. Back when Willow actually did act the part, they never needed to be that overt about it. But oh well.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:44 (UTC)

Well to be fair, Buffy and Xander thought Dawn's comment was out of left field too... and remember, Dawn was frantic because Willow had just been captured by Amy and was about to be tortured to death.

But I can believe - and argue here - that the period of the "family unit" was one of the most important and formative years of Dawn's short life (less than five years as a human) when she first came to accept herself as a real person and not a magical maguffin to be fought over and protected.

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 23:37 (UTC)

Yeah, I've always taken the opinion that Will and Tara were very parent-y to Dawn in the summer between S5 and S6 - we just never saw it. Maybe it's just because the idea seems so adorable to me, and it makes my little lesbian heart happy to see it, but I ship Will-and-Tara-as-Dawn's-parents SO bad. I never really noticed it wasn't all that there in the show until people started being like, "Wait, that's not on the show."

It's like - there's SO many people on the show who could have had such great relationships, platonically/parentally. Spike and Tara, Buffy and Tara, Xander and Tara, Giles and Tara, Dawn and Tara, Willow and Dawn...basically Tara and everyone. :D

This would all be solved if Tara had been the main character. "Tara, the Lesbian Witch".

Mannnn. That needs to exist. ^-^

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:48 (UTC)
tara

I never really noticed it wasn't all that there in the show until people started being like, "Wait, that's not on the show."

Were these the same people who didn't even realise Willow and Tara were a couple at all until 'The Yoko Factor'?


I've just been re-reading the comics story I mentioned where Willow and Tara take Dawn with them on a family vacation. You should read it, if you've never seen it; it's cute.

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 01:03 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 01:12 (UTC)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 18:41 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 18:54 (UTC)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 19:14 (UTC)

Posted by: The Mezzanine (deird1)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 03:45 (UTC)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 18:55 (UTC)

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 9th June 2009 23:43 (UTC)

And no one asked you to do commentaries? For shame! How 'bout something out of the "That Kiss" series of things?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:50 (UTC)

:-)

A few of the other people in the commentaries meme have been writing about their smut fics recently... I was kind of scared off doing that myself before but maybe I'll take the plunge now.

Posted by: Lily (lavastar)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 01:05 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 14th June 2009 12:39 (UTC)

Posted by: eowyn_315 (eowyn_315)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:23 (UTC)

Makes sense to me.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:50 (UTC)

Hooray!
:-)

Posted by: alexeia_drae (alexeia_drae)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:34 (UTC)
Your brain rocks

I pretty much agree. In fact, the line about Willow being like a mother to Dawn wouldn't have surprised me too much, especially as I did read Tara and Willow's break up as being like parents divorcing in Dawn's mind.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 00:54 (UTC)

Nice to know I'm not alone. :-)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 18:43 (UTC)

Interesting Meta as always.

I sort of agree and disagree. I think they're both very important to Dawn but no more so than say Spike or Xander in S6.

I still think the Willow line in comics is totally out of left field especially since Willow tried to kill her and turn her back into a bundle of energy. I think the happily chatting away thing in same time is more likely just evidence of bad out of character writing. That like lots of character stuff either just got forgotten it or didn't have time to address it.

I can sort of buy that she sees Tara especially and Willow to a lesser extent as cool Aunts that she cares for deeply. But calling her a Mum that I do not buy for either. Maybe I could later for Tara but she dies so that put paid to that idea. Certainly not for Willow. Buffy fulfils her surrogate mother roll. Buffy defends her until death, makes the hard decisions, Tara and Willow just get the cool Aunt/Uncle stuff.

The main problem lies with the character assassination of Hank who was originally shown as caring and dutiful and then completely absent. There might be Meta reasons for that but I think it was more SMG and JW importing their own issues into the characters imho.

As a counter to the S6 breakfast scene with Dawn you have the S7 Dawn, Buffy Xander playing at surrogate family?


Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 19:00 (UTC)

more likely just evidence of bad out of character writing.

But I think it fits her character perfectly, so I don't see it as "bad writing". :-) As for Willow trying to kill her - well, so did Buffy, and Dawn forgave Buffy too. (Although she still had issues about it in later episodes)


Hank who was originally shown as caring and dutiful and then completely absent.

I don't think it's so unusual for a divorced father to be conscientious about his duties for a while, but gradually get involved in a new life, perhaps have more children in another relationship, and gradually lose touch.

Plus, or as an alternative, you're assuming that Joyce had no role in freezing him out and making it difficult for him to get to see Buffy when he wanted to. :-)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 19:15 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 19:41 (UTC)

Posted by: tessarin (tessarin)
Posted at: 10th June 2009 19:50 (UTC)

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 11th June 2009 12:35 (UTC)

Posted by: gattara (gattara)
Posted at: 11th June 2009 09:24 (UTC)

I realise this view is controversial.

I don't get how this view is controversial. Everything you said was *totally* there, totally unmissable. :P Anyway, I love exploring the little things, that's why I love this post. :)

Posted by: mikeda (mikeda)
Posted at: 11th June 2009 12:54 (UTC)

From what I recall, I've always thought that Dawn saw Willow and Tara as parental figures (at least from the beginning of S6). Her reactions in S6 are just too daughterly for them not to be parental figures.

(Presumably it actually started during the summer between S5 and S6 when Willow and Tara moved in to the Summers' house.)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 11th June 2009 13:35 (UTC)

Posted by: ms_scarletibis (ms_scarletibis)
Posted at: 12th June 2009 06:15 (UTC)

Agree to all of that, but particularly this:


Most obvious, though, is Dawn's devastated reaction to Willow and Tara splitting up, the unsubtle way she tries to manipulate them into getting back together, and her overwhelming squeefulness when they finally do. She doesn't react in nearly the same way to Xander and Anya or Buffy and Riley or Spike. I'm not the first to observe that the scene in 'Smashed' where Tara takes Dawn for a movie and milkshakes reads just like a divorced parent on an access visit.

For the record, I would argue that it's really Tara whom Dawn would say was "like a Mom to me". Willow's relationship with her seems to me more like a cool but slightly disreputable aunt; the one who spoils her and leads her astray by letting her get up to things the more responsible adults frown on. (References include 'Forever' and 'Wrecked'.) But Willow and Tara came as a unit, and if Dawn sees Tara as her foster-mother, what else can she call Willow?


Though I'd probably call Willow...if Tara's the "mom," then Willow would be "mom's bf who's nice" to Dawn. Or something...At any rate, Willow would mos def be the second mom, while Tara would reign at #1 :D

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 12th June 2009 13:59 (UTC)
willow

bf = boyfriend or best friend??

I think Willow would glare at you indignantly if you meant the first. She'd possibly even roll her eyes as well. :-)

Posted by: candleanfeather (candleanfeather)
Posted at: 12th June 2009 19:48 (UTC)

Hi, Stormwreath, commenting late as always.

I'm of two minds about your analysis: I'll concede that seen from Dawn's POV all the arguments you give are perfectly logic and you probably have spoted (spotted?) the general frame in which JW was more or less seeing these relationships. But, from a viewer POV I have a problem to identify Tara (yet Tara has a maternal quality to her) and Willow as parental figures for Dawn, mostly because we weren't shown much about it in the show.It stayed more like a sketch and so it doesn't have in its representation the quality of weight and depth the relationships between parents and children have. That's probably why the line you refer to in the comics can appear as a little arbitrary. To me even Dawn's reaction to the separation of Willow and Tara (but I agree that it can be read like that)doesn't specifically identify with the fear a child can feel learning about his or her parent's divorce.

As an aside, have you ever read Shadowkat67 meta about Btvs/Ats (the show)? If it interests you, there's two very interesting posts about metaphors for sadomasochism in Btvs, and Willow (Dark Willow and Vamp Willow) is amongst the characters she examines. You'll find the links for it my LJ (it's a ercent post).

That being said thank you for providing us with interesting meta. Be well.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 13th June 2009 22:53 (UTC)

it doesn't have in its representation the quality of weight and depth the relationships between parents and children have.

To be fair, Dawn is 14/15 when she's unofficially adopted by Tara and Willow, so it's not like she's a little kid dependent on her parents for everything - and there's only a 6-year age gap between her and them. But I still think the writers and actors kind of took the relationship for granted without ever giving it much focus on-screen.

have you ever read Shadowkat67 meta about Btvs/Ats

I've just finished reading the one you linked to. It's interesting, but very very long. :-) Thanks for the link. :-)

78 Read Comments