By FadeToBlackBolt 45 Comments
I warn you, this topic is VERY close to my heart, so I will get emotional at times, possibly saying various people in the production of the episode should be killed, but nevertheless, my points are valid.
It is commonly accepted that the worst episode of Buffy; the Vampire Slayer are written by Tracey Forbes ("Beer Bad", "Something Blue" and "Where the Wild Things Are"), but in truth, those are still watchable. The worst episode, however, is written by Jane Espenson, a seasoned Buffy/Angel writer and one of their best. What should spring to mind as the worst Espenson penned episode would be "Doublemeat Palace", and as truly awful as that was, he still isn't as bad as the episode in question. No, this episode manages to be insulting, poorly written, and possibly the most insensitive thing ever broadcast on television.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3; Episode 18:
For the first 25 minutes or so, "Earshot" is a fantastic episode. It's funny, it has great character exposition, a really adorable Buffy/Angel moment, and some superb Cordelia lines. So what makes it so abhorrent?
BTVS does teen-suicide, and it's all the teen's fault. Also, there's jokes about it.
In Earshot we are properly introduced to Jonathan, eventual one third of the poorly titled Trio. Now in this episode, Buffy accidentally overhears (through her telepathic powers) that someone in the school is intending to bring a gun and make people remember them or something equally clichéd. Now, after a series of filler (but still humourous) interviews, Buffy eventually finds the culprit, Jonathan, on the school's clocktower.
"Clocktower, like Walt Whitman. Haha, I made that reference, I'm clever" - Jane Espenson during writing.
So Buffy finds the rifle-wielding Jonathan and attempts to calm him down by talking about how hard her life is. Beautiful, super powered Buffy with great friends, the most awesome boyfriend imaginable, and, oh yeah, SUPER POWERS! Next, Buffy talks about how hard it is for everyone in that school, despite 90% of Buffy episodes being about the various students clearly exhibiting sociopathic behaviour. Now if you intend to argue that Buffy's life is terrible because she's the Slayer, you're wrong. The hardest thing in life is to find purpose for one's self. Buffy has never had to worry about that. She was given purpose (an awesome purpose, that truly mattered), simply because she was born with two X chromosomes and won the super power lottery. As for someone like Jonathan, who has no friends, family or purpose, existence was perpetual agony. Existentialism aside, the audience is forced to endure this after-school special which can only be described as as an intellectual massacre.
Speaking as someone who has tried to kill themselves, at school, having someone who has NEVER acknowledged you talk down to you about how difficult their awesome life is, and how much it must suck to be the people with friends, I was hoping Jonathan would shoot Buffy in the face. He didn't of course, because this episode was written with a crayon.
After Buffy makes another comment about how badass she is, Jonathan gives up the gun, and then Buffy makes a crack about him wanting to shoot everyone. Yup, now's a really great time to make jokes, Espenson, you ignorant twit. Then Jonathan says how he'd never hurt anyone and actually just wanted to kill himself. Aww, he's not a bad guy. He's a good guy, who the school system has once again destroyed because it's the worst thing in the Universe.
Then he's suspended. WHAT?
Let me get this straight, Jonathan wants to kill himself because school sucks. He decides not to, because...well, we don't really know why. I guess hearing an attractive person speak condescendingly at you is reason to live. Anyways, all is well at Sunnydale High.
So in the end, this doesn't help people with depression or suicidal thoughts, it essentially urinates in their face and says "I don't want to die, so I'm better than you".
To everyone involved in the production of this episode; I give you the single-fingered salute.