Buffy the Vampire Slayer, first aired in 1997, arguably led the way for depictions of same-sex relationships onscreen, not least through the storyline of the core character – and Scooby Gang member – Willow, who came out as gay in season four.
However, the show’s creator, Joss Whedon, has recently revealed that Willow’s sexuality would be different if the show was produced today. Specifically, she would be bisexual, something that Whedon says the show’s creators weren’t “ready for” when it was originally written.
“There are you things you can’t do, thanks to (the society at the time),” he explains, in a recent interview with Metro.
In the interview, the Buffy writer and director also clears up some confusion around the sexuality of the character (played by Alyson Hannigan), who appeared to be attracted to men for the first three series.
Thanks to the social pressures of the time it was created, he adds that he felt he couldn’t make Willow bisexual, or risk her sexual orientation being considered a “phase”: “because that’s what people do to deny their existence.”
“So, if I did it now,” Whedon adds, “I’d be like yes she can be bi. Because some people are! But back then it was like, no…we’re not ready for that.”
In 2018, a Buffy reboot was announced, and Whedon will be returning (albeit in a more behind-the-scenes role, as executive producer). With a different cast of characters, hopefully the prospective new series will take a slightly more open-minded approach.