The cast of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer recently reunited for a 20th anniversary photo shoot, giving Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson the chance to reflect on their characters’ groundbreaking lesbian relationship.
Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay were one of the first same-sex couples to be depicted in a TV show aimed at teenagers in the US.
In a video for Entertainment Weekly, Hannigan recounts the first time showrunner Joss Whedon told her about her character’s next relationship.
“We were walking in the parking lot, and he just said, ‘Willow’s going to get a friend, and she’s going to be a special friend.’ I was like, ‘Okay, great!’ - I didn’t really know what that meant.”
“There definitely hadn’t been a gay character that had been on a show from the beginning [before Buffy]. This was a character that you got to see the journey, that was very groundbreaking.
“The fact that it was such a non-issue was so great, and that’s how it should be.”
Benson added: “It was a beautiful relationship, and it wasn’t gratuitous, it wasn’t about two girls making out, it was about two people who both happen to identify as female who fall in love.
“They were good to each other, they treated each other that way. It was a normal relationship. You normalise it, and make it okay, because it is okay.
“We got a lot of young letters… there were a lot of young people who felt very isolated, and to see two characters on a television show be accepted by a group of peers changed the game," said Benson.
“It’s saying, if you find somebody to love, you’re just lucky – it doesn’t matter the gender, the sex or whatever – if you find somebody who gets you and you get them, you’re so lucky.”
Showrunner Joss Whedon said that he first introduced Tara into the series because, “I was like, how do you follow Seth Green?”
“Well, Willow’s in college, so maybe she finds a girlfriend. That was an important thing for people to see, but really I wasn’t thinking about that! As much as I wanted to make a feminist show, I really missed a lot of what was going to be important about the show. I thought that was just what you’d do.”