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StephenT [userpic]

(Meta) Buffy opening credits

14th October 2007 (11:35)
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I was recently reading some metafandom stuff about representation of non-privileged groups in modern media. This included a discussion on whether Serenity passes the Bechdel-Wallace Test, as well as criticism of how many genre TV shows have a disproportionately male regular cast. "At least", I thought "Buffy doesn't suffer from that problem." Or does it? That got me wondering, so I did some analysis. And also made some pretty banners. :-)


Starting in Season One, it does indeed seem like BtVS will be a counterweight to the normal Hollywood gender balance, with the regular cast being 60% female:



But! No sooner does season 2 start, but David sneaks into the credits, and makes the balance an even 50/50. The regular cast won't be majority-female again for another three and a half years!



In fact, despite Sarah's last-ditch attempt to threaten Joss with a rocket launcher, season 3 sees men take over the cast - which is now 57% male. Alyson doesn't look too impressed by this development either - no wonder David is looking smug. At least there's a pretty new logo using a different font to distract our attention.



Season 4 begins, and we lose two regular cast members - but the gender balance is even more weighted towards the men now, with a 60% male cast. Both Sarah and Alyson look disgusted by this development. Tony's loving it though.



Episode 7 of season 4 sees James replace Seth, but that doesn't alter the gender balance at all.



In fact, it gets worse. Marc gets his own spot in the credits in episode 11 of season 4, and the women are now outnumbered two to one.



However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The first episode of season 5 sees Emma join the regular cast, bringing the balance back down to 57% male, 43% female. Sarah and Aly are looking a little bit happier now. Incidentally, 'Buffy v Dracula' is one of four episodes to have a unique title credit sequence (the others being 'Superstar', 'Once More With Feeling' and 'Seeing Red').



Episode 2 of season 5 sees another change, as Michelle joins the cast as well. The men's two-year dominance of the opening credits is finally broken as the sexes attain equality. James looks less than impressed by this. The first half of season 5 sees the regular cast at its largest ever, with eight members.



In episode 11 of season 5, Marc is gone, and the women move into the lead for the first time since 'Prophecy Girl' back in season 1.



Season 6 begins with Tony leaving the regular cast to be a special guest star instead, and the women now outnumber men two to one. James clearly hates this, but doesn't dare tangle with Alyson, who's not about to let anybody take the prime final spot in the credits away from her now she's got it. Also, is it just me or is Nicky doing a Joss Whedon impersonation here?




Hankies out as Amber makes her one and only appearance in the credits in episode 19 of season 6. *Sniff*.



And we're back to the regular credits for episodes 20-22. Although Amber did appear in 'Villains', she presumably didn't qualify as regular cast since she didn't have any lines in that episode. Since her character was, you know, dead.




And season 7 continues the female dominance. James and Nicky are clearly over-compensating for being in the minority by acting super-macho for these credits (or super-Village People, possibly). Mitchie looks dubious about this, but Aly clearly thinks it's cute.



And that's it. For the record, there are 420 appearances by male actors in the opening credits sequence, and 476 by female actresses: so the women do win out in the end, but only by 53% to 47%: hardly a vast overbalance. Which probably says something significant about our culture that it feels like a show mostly by and about women, even though women only make up half the cast.

Actual appearances in the credits:

SMG - 144
AH - 144
NB - 144 (only appeared in 143 episodes: he wasn't in 'Conversations with Dead People')
ASH - 100
JM - 82
EC - 66 (only appeared in 65 episodes: like Nicky, she wasn't in 'Conversations with Dead People')
MT - 65
CC - 56 (plus 88 appearances in the 'Angel' credits, total 144)
DB - 44 (plus 110 appearances in the 'Angel' credits, total 154 - the most of all the cast)
SG - 28
MB - 22
AB - 1

Incidentally, those banners are up for grabs if anyone wants to use them for anything.

Comments

Posted by: 2maggie2 (2maggie2)
Posted at: 14th October 2007 22:13 (UTC)

Thanks for all the pretty pictures! People are right that the credits don't tell the whole story. But they do tell some interesting things.

In addition to your observation, I notice that we are primed twice in season 3 to be reminded of the trauma of season 2 (Buffy with the Bazooka calling back her first battle with Angelus); Giles with the rose (calling back Jennys' death). Not sure if season 3 DB is of Angel or Angelus. In season 6, we get a sneak preview that Willow's the big bad for the season. And in season 7, we are reminded that Spike fought for his soul.

Anyway, this is an occasion to mention another credit-based clue -- which is the closing hero shot of Buffy. In season 6, it was a shot of the Buffy bot. And in season 7, it was a shot of First Evil!Buffy. Of course, in season 6 Buffy definitely didn't save the world. And in season 7, her role was arguably only ancilliary. Not sure what to make of that, but there was a clear dial-back on the woman as heroine theme that is the hallmark of the show.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 14th October 2007 23:14 (UTC)

And in season 7, it was a shot of First Evil!Buffy. Of course, in season 6 Buffy definitely didn't save the world. And in season 7, her role was arguably only ancilliary. Not sure what to make of that, but there was a clear dial-back on the woman as heroine theme that is the hallmark of the show.

I vaguely remember reading somewhere that initially Joss wanted to show Buffy fighting with herself - the Fist Evil that took Buffy's form - in Chosen. But when they started doing storyboards they realised that it will be too confusing for the audience and probably unfilmable.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th October 2007 18:32 (UTC)

That's interesting: does it imply that The First would have taken corporeal form for the finale?

I don't know if you're familiar with the X-Box game 'Chaos Bleeds', which is set in Season 5: but that also features The First, and has Buffy fighting it hand-to-hand (with a magic sword that can affect it). I think the game was made before season 7 was filmed.

Posted by: Elena (moscow_watcher)
Posted at: 15th October 2007 19:54 (UTC)

That's interesting: does it imply that The First would have taken corporeal form for the finale?

Probably. I suppose the idea of The First entering Caleb and using him as a vessel was a "plan B". Or even "C": it's well-known that Joss considered the option of killing off Xander in Dirty Girls and using NB as the inpersonation of The First in the final four episodes.

I don't know if you're familiar with the X-Box game 'Chaos Bleeds', which is set in Season 5: but that also features The First, and has Buffy fighting it hand-to-hand (with a magic sword that can affect it). I think the game was made before season 7 was filmed.

I didn't know it! And The First looks like who?

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th October 2007 22:02 (UTC)

didn't know it! And The First looks like who?
I've just refreshed my memory via Youtube, and It was actually possessing Ethan Rayne in the final battle (similar to the way It empowered Caleb, I assume). After Buffy hit Ethan a few times with her magic sword, The First was driven out of Ethan and "dispersed across all the dimensions", not to return for "hundreds of years."

Presumably Buffy's death and resurrection shortened "hundreds of years" to "just over one year". :-)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th October 2007 18:11 (UTC)

Not sure if season 3 DB is of Angel or Angelus.
The picture I used is Angelus - I think it's a scene from 'Passion'. Of course, there are several pictures of each character in the credits - I chose the ones I thought were either representative, or fit my story best, or the ones that stuck in my mind the most when watching.


Not sure what to make of that, but there was a clear dial-back on the woman as heroine theme that is the hallmark of the show.

Although it's frequently said (including in tessarin's comment above) that in the later seasons the show was even more overtly female-dominated. (Calling it 'feminist' opens a whole other can of worms, although it fits *my* definition of the word...)

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