Critics have often accused Buffy the Vampire Slayer's serial theme of presenting sex in a negative way. Old optics are hard to replace.
Warning: Spoilers for The Vampire Slayer #9!
There are many reasons to love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but there's always been at least one recurring theme among fans, and that's the series' attitude toward sex. The show often seems to deal with matters related to sex, not unlike how stereotypical horror movies punish and kill sexually motivated teens, let alone act on them. Critics in the past have accused the series of being narrow-minded at best and problematic at worst. It's understandable why some viewers would come to this conclusion.
The show sees Buffy essentially being punished for having consensual sex with a man she admires not once, but twice, when the two men actually (and, in one case, literally) A different, evil person after having sex with her. This first happened when Buffy slept with Angel in season two, and then with Parker in season four. Meanwhile, her casual sexual relationship with Spike is considered unhealthy, something Buffy is ashamed of, something she keeps from her friends, and something she is doomed to fail. Speaking of Spike, he and Faith, along with other sexually liberated characters of their kind, are described as Most of their respective runs have been affected by corruption.
Sex is Still an Issue in Buffy's Comics
The list of similar examples is long, especially when the sequel to the BOOM! Studio manga is included. Most recently, Sarah Gailey and Hannah Templer's The Vampire Slayer #9 saw Xander reveal that he and his co-star were in an open relationship. On the face of it, it's an incredibly progressive, sex-positive move. But this public relationship is portrayed as a silly affair, and attempts to appease the liar, like Buffy and Spike's casual relationship, are doomed to fail. Xander said his public relationship with Tony only made it easier for his partner to cheat on him, as Tony was still "sneaking up" behind his back.
Of course, it's still early and the series still has time to correct the optics of this moment. As the series progresses, it's easy to present Xander's situation as an isolated incident, whether through a more successful open relationship or a new relationship with Xander. After all, the series does continue to hint at Spike and Xander pursuing a romance of their own. Still, it seems like an old question as far as optics are concerned at the moment Critics continue to rear their ugly heads for the franchise.
While it's hard to directly accuse the franchise or even this comic of intentionally negatively affecting sex and sexual relations, the optics of the old recurring issue present a theme of "sex = bad". Still, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a growing franchise, and as it develops, it's more likely that it will right old wrongs through the comics.
Next post: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is getting ready for a Spike/Xander romance