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grill, gossip & gripe  May 3, 2002

Buffy Creator Joss Whedon Talks Climaxes, Criticism and Angel's Fate

Wanda: Sounds like you've been insanely busy with all your projects this season. [Buffy producer] Marti Noxon said you're like a pig in poo...
Joss: [Laughs.] Sounds like Marti. And yeah, I am like a pig in poo.

Has it been hard to be less involved with Buffy?
I haven't been as hands-off as people like to think. This season, I was there, except when I was shooting the Firefly pilot. But yeah, everything I saw that I could have made better or had a different vision for, I go, "Aaaarrgh!" But then, I've always done that.

This season has been fantastic, as usual, but it has had a darker tone. To be honest, some of the episodes depressed the hell out of me.
This is where we wanted to go...into the dark of the woods. But next year is going to be very different. We're going back to our original mission statement. Back to the positive view of the joy of female empowerment. This year was about adult life and relationships--and making really, really bad decisions. Next year will still be scary and different and strange, but it will be more of a positive outlook. People will stop abandoning Dawn. Willow won't be a junky anymore. Buffy won't be dead.

Your theme for this year was: "Oh, Grow Up." Do you have one for next year?
Yes. It's: "Buffy Year One." It's let's get back to the joy of this very simple concept, that this silly woman no one takes seriously is actually the most powerful woman in the world.

How long do you see Buffy lasting? How far have you planned ahead?
We basically plot every year as a natural ending point of the show. I loathe stories that end in the middle, so we wrap it up at the end of the year. Every year. So, next season, we've figured out the whole arc--who the bad guy is, what the general message is. Next year will be the end. And if there's another season, that will be the end, too.

What about Angel? Are you worried about it being picked up?
No. The WB will pick it up again. I absolutely think so. We'll be staying on the WB for at least another year. Obviously, if the WB drops it, we could do more crossovers. But apart from that, it doesn't really matter.

Speaking of crossovers, any hope for Buffy and Angel diehards?
What I always say is: Guys, they're on two different networks. There's no way. Buffy and Angel physically could not exist. If they were on the same network, we would have done the Buffy-Spike thing anyway. But we probably would have had a crossover moment when they would go, "You're sleeping with whom?!" It became difficult in the third year to truly bring change to Buffy and Angel. People want to watch change. Growth. They want climax.

And we've certainly gotten "climax" with Buffy and Spike. Let's talk about Angel, which has been so great this season. Can you talk about the motive for giving him a son?
We wanted to put him in an emotional space. To give him something that is less about day-to-day living. He needed something to connect to emotionally. Plus, I just love the idea of this embarrassing effect of a one-night stand.

Why did you decide to make Connor grow up at lightning speed?
What are you going to do? Have a baby running around? I don't think so. There were advantages. He got to have a baby. He got to have his child taken away. And then he got to have a full-grown son. That's the beauty of it being a fantasy show.

Buffy and Angel fans seem to be more critical than ever this season. Does that affect you?
It always affects me. At the same time, I need to give them what they need, not what they want. They need to have their hearts broken. They need to see change. They hated Oz, and then they hated that he left. These things are inevitable. If people are freaking out, I'm good. If people are going, "Hmmm...well, that was fine," I'm fucked.

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