I don’t know season eight. I don’t know season nine. I don’t know most of Angel. So those things are all not to be discussed here. But here, much like last week with Firefly, are some non-romantic, non-familial, non-almost familial (i.e. Buffy and Giles are for another time), non-impossible to define (i.e. Buffy and Faith are for another time) relationships. Friendship time!
Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Willow (Alyson Hannigan)
Buffy and Xander (Nicholas Brendon)
In the first season and presumably part of the second, Xander is one-sidedly attracted to Buffy. He’s intrigued by her on a physical level. But even with Xander’s initial attraction, his friendship with Buffy is sweet. They’ll stick by each other through most anything, even when Xander gets weird about certain (often vampire-shaped) things.
Buffy and Tara (Amber Benson)
It’s not seen often enough. It really isn’t. Tara’s on the show for a while as Willow’s girlfriend, who is friendly but not exactly close with the others; by the time Tara’s really an integral part of the Scooby machine, Buffy’s dealing with her own being (recently) dead thing. But their discussions in 5×16, “The Body,” make me think that Buffy and Tara could be very sweet and adorable friends more often if given the chance. And maybe it didn’t get much screen time ‘cause conversations that are sweet but not ultimately significant aren’t, well, significant, but I choose to believe that such things existed and were good.
Willow and Xander
High school Willow has a wonderfully one-sided attraction to Xander, stemming largely from the fact that he’s one of her only close friends. (One of these days, I might have to dissect Wills and sex; for now, biromantic lesbian is the term I’ll use.) But once that whole mess is laid to rest in the awkward cheating game of season three, they stay best ever friends. Willow still gets jealous of Anya [Emma Caulfield], because she’s close to Xander, but not in the same way. Xander still looks after Willow. In 5×03, “The Replacement,” Xander chooses to go to Willow to recognize the real him as the real him and not the copy. In 6×22, “Grave,” Xander is the one who talks dark Willow down from destroying the world by reminding her of their friendship and that such good things as that do exist. They’re there for each other even as changes in their lives occur. And it’s nice.
Willow and Giles (Anthony Stewart Head)
One of the ways that I knew that Willow’s addiction to magicks was out of hand (other than already knowing sort of what happened in the series) was when Giles called her a “rank, arrogant amateur” in 5×04, “Flooded.” Willow and Giles have always had a mutual respect thing (even if high school Willow may have been a little infatuated with the sexy British librarian in secret, which, seriously why wouldn’t she have been?) because both of them, though in very different ways, are the “brains” of the operation. Giles is traditional, Willow is modern; but when Giles stops respecting Willow’s actions, that’s how you know something’s wrong. Giles knows things. Giles is sort of Willow’s magicks Watcher in a way, but it’s a little more than that at times. He wants to make sure that she doesn’t get out of hand, because that would be terribly unfortunate for her and for everyone, and he does care about her. They’ve got lots of things in common when they try.
Willow and Spike (James Marsters)
They don’t really have a proper “friendship,” but there seems to be a certain understanding and amusing banter between them. In 3×08, “Lover’s Walk,” Spike kidnaps Willow, and ends up lamenting on her shoulder instead of anything else; in 4×07, “The Initiative,” Spike again holds Willow hostage, and they end up commiserating with each other (Spike feeling neutered, Willow feeling insecure). Their discussions can be really cute, even in the throes of not-good things happening, and therefore it’s worth noting.
Willow and Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg)
Pre-the revelation of Dawn’s energy blob existence, Willow has a fondness for her. I’ve been best friends with people with little sisters before, so I understand that; it’s a little sister fondness, but it’s free of all of the angst that comes from actually being family with someone all the time, twenty-four hours a day. She looks out for Dawn as best she can, but she’s willing to give Dawn a chance, even when it is discovered that she’s not real. And in the end, they’re okay, even if there are rocky patches re: Willow’s magicks habit and the fallout.
Xander and Oz (Seth Green)
These two obviously have some speed bumps. But for a little while, these two can bro down in a very nice and taciturn way. They realize that they need to work together, so they may as well make sarcastic commentary while doing so. It’s all good.
Xander and Dawn
Again, I know nothing of season eight or beyond. But the only thing I can really say, other than it’s again a little sister but not thing, and they feel comfortable poking fun at each other in less serious moments, is this:
“They’ll never know how tough it is, Dawnie, to be the one who isn’t chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me. I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You’re not special. You’re extraordinary.”
The Dawn that Xander sees by this point is a Dawn I actually like.
Giles and Anya
These two have more of a business relationship than anything else for a while. Like the others, Giles doesn’t get Anya’s “I’m only just human so what the hell” bluntness, and even as a businessman he finds her capitalism a bit ridiculous at times. But eventually, this turns to trust, real legitimate trust, and caring about each other a bit. (And no, I don’t count their made-up “Tabula Rasa” romance as this being romantic.)
Tara and Dawn
Tara and Willow end up being almost mother figures for Dawnie, but Tara and Dawn have the bond of the outsider. Neither of them 100% belongs at the first, they’re both there by association, and they’re close to each other because of it. Tara’s a sensitive person, so she’s good at dealing with Dawn’s feelings; she’s good at taking care of Dawn in a not-patronizing way, she’s good at just being friends with Dawn. It’s sweet and charming and, again, Dawn through someone else’s eyes makes me properly care about Dawn.
–your fangirl heroine.