Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Beer Bad

Buffy: "If he were tied and gagged and left in a cave that vampires happened to frequent, it wouldn't be like I killed him, really."

It's tempting to say "episode bad!" So it wasn't what I'd call great, but it was fun — especially in a bashing-the-poophead sense. Plus we have the blatant comparison of male college students with prehistoric morons who really want nothing but booze and sex, which in the interest of not alienating a loved one of mine, I will tactfully pass over.

I hate beer. I learned how to drink beer in college, though, because it was cheap, and I suspect a lot of other female college students have done the same. (Actually, I like the expensive imported beers, but that defeats the purpose of drinking beer in the first place, at least for me.) What sort of a name is "Black Frost" for a beer? It sort of makes me picture a car hitting it and skidding into a tree. Maybe that was the point.

I especially liked the fantasy scene at the beginning, the corresponding scene at the end with the tree limb, and the scene where Willow took down Parker. An open shirt, a dozen roses, and a pint of Haagen-Daz? Works for me, as long as they don't come with Parker. I actually thought for a moment that Willow had succumbed to Parker's smarmy charms, and I was saying out loud, "No, Willow! No!" Three years ago she might have, but -- "Just how gullible do you think I am?" What a great scene.

Oz ignoring Willow and skipping classes? Say it isn't so! I might have to take back what I said earlier about Willow winning the virginity sweepstakes. Maybe they're realizing that love isn't enough and that they have conflicting lifestyles. (sigh)

Buffy Cave Slayer managed to hang on to her superhero impulses, while the smartypants guys were still acting like morons. I also couldn't help but notice that the guys had huge bony forehead ridges and gappy teeth, while Buffy looked pretty much the same and just had a lot more, and tanglier, hair. All of this proving conclusively that women are more highly evolved than men, right? No, wait, I wasn't going to go there.

Bits and pieces:

-- Poor Xander, betwixt and between, and now he's out of a promising job. (I assume he is, since the bar burned down.) Ah, well. That ID wouldn't have held up forever, anyway.

-- What's with Oz's groupie? And what was her name? Beluga, as in caviar?

Quotes:

Buffy: "You know there's more to it than wiping and kicking. Mixing drinks, for instance."
Xander: "Well, I've seen Cocktail. I can do the hippy-hippy shake."

Xander: "How's the fugue state coming along?"

Willow: "You need to stop thinking about Parker. He's no good. There are men, better men, wherein the mind is stronger than the penis."
Xander (loudly): "Nothing can defeat the penis!"

Guy: "Beer. Had the earliest morality developed under the influence of beer, there would be no good or evil. There would just be kinda nice, and pretty cool."

Buffy: "It's nice, foamy, comforting... It's beer."

Buffy: "Want more singing. Want more beer!"
Xander: "No, I've cut you off."
Buffy: "Did it hurt?"

Giles: "But you knew it was beer."
Xander: "Well, excuse me, Mr. I-spent-the-sixties-in-an-electric-koolaid-funky-Satan-groove."
Giles: "It was the early seventies, and you should know better."

One out of four stakes,

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

19 comments:

Gus Brunetti said...

I'm among the few Buffy fans who really like Season 4. But this episode is, in my opinion, the worst in the series. There's no subtlety whatsoever in it. I heard a story about Joss doing it to receive an "incentive" from an anti-drug agency who gives prizes for tv shows who portray drugs and co. negatively. Only greed would explain such a bad, bad episode.

And he didn't succed in any front, since the agency didn't like the result (I think they didn't find it obvious enough) and didn't give them the money.

I expected more from Joss's artistic integrity.

Sooze said...

Awful.

Ben said...

Season 4 definitely starts off weak for me, until Spike turns up and Riley's storyline becomes more prominent. This episode is very woeful.
I mean, it's not all bad. I like the Xander development, and Willow being the only girl who isn't taken in by uber douche Parker (ironically, that probably means she is the soul mate he's apparently looking for).
But the episode is veerrry silly and not all that great, and I bloody hate episodes who try to bash an agenda down your throat. Here, it's saying that if you drink beer you become an uber dumb idiot. Which I could agree with, except the moral is don't drink any at all. Because you can't even have one drop of it. That is so stupidly not the case, so what is the point to paint it as such. If it had to have a moral, surly that should be drink responsibly rather than: "Beer Bad! No drink!"
By being like that, the episode succeeds only in annoying everyone, hence this probably being one of the least liked ones of the series.
Rant over lol.

Miguel said...

The best part of the episode was Buffy wacking Parker over the head with the tree limb twice

Other than that, yes episode bad..

Billie Doux said...

BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes. Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Season four spoilers are posted here.

Juliette said...

I came here to comment for the re-watch, but somehow can't think of anything to say. This episode had its amusing moments, but I can't really get behind a completely teetotalitarian agenda. At least Parker got hit over the head.

Jane said...

Oh Buffy – still so young. Poor baby daydreaming over Parker. That said, I am kind of tired of watching her run through every pitfall of new college student like it was a checklist. Bored now.

Willow is the best friend ever – her supportive under-reaction to the group sex misunderstanding was so sweet. Then her clear-eyed take down of Parker's come-on. Perfect.

Xander continues to be the grown up. An advertisement for not going to college and living in your parent’s basement, I guess. Hee – I love that his silly lighter saved him from the guys.

Ok – cave painting Buffy good.
But, SMG is really too intelligent to play the confused primitive very well.

Parker is still bad – so I’m glad she clubbed him after the apology.

I didn’t hate it as much as some of you seem to have – maybe 2 stakes.

Nancy Ewart said...

A mediocre episode but redeemed by Buffy bopping Parker over the head. I am sure that millions of disillusioned college girls cheered that move.

pucklady said...

Anticipatory excitement:

I really can not wait to see this episode! I keep hearing how terrible it is, so I've made a point of not reading any reviews, remarks or comments.

There is a high art to awful, and I can only hope that Buffy meets the mark. But, so you know, I watched every episode of Heroes. My awful bar is set pretty high (low?).

Netflix, here I come .....

Annie said...

This episode get such negative response but I find it okay, there's always enjoyable moments in Buffy.

I really like the opening fantasy sequence with Buffy imagining a grovelling Parker particularly when it is upgraded with flowers Ice cream and open shirt which all sits nicely with the backdrop of her psychology lecture. Its been a long while since I've found myself in that kind of situation but it still resonates well enough.

Willow getting the better of Parker is always enjoyable, he's just so slimy.

Xander getting his own on the smart ass University boys who can't calculate the tip is a relief, that guy was just so mean to Xander.

Can't say I was keen on Oz being so distracted by the mysterious girl, now sultry singer at The Bronze... 'dresses like Faith, voice of an albatross' She is just so obvious, its hard to imagine that Oz would have been impressed.

So glad Parker apologised to cave Buffy rather than regular Buffy, that was a well deserved knock out.

The message is very clumsily delivered but it doesn't really bother me that its there. I'm all for folks doing whatever they want to their own bodies, but it doesn't make it good, its a choice. However, personally I do agree - Beer bad.

Josie Kafka said...

I dislike this episode quite a bit. Completely, in fact. And yet, re-watching it for this re-watch, I was surprised to discover that I found something new to dislike about it: Willow's speech to Parker, which misrepresents the pleasure principle as exclusively masculine. That's not how it works, and it's disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

They won an Emmy for this one, right? For hair and makeup?

ChrisB said...

Certainly one of my least favorite episodes in the entire series. The moral hits us as hard as Buffy hits Parker and it's just too much.

Anonymous said...

I thought the episode made fun of the whole "message episode" concept with that exchange at the end when Xander asked Buffy what important thing she'd learned about beer. Buffy's reply: "Foamy!" Which makes me laugh.

Definitely not a favorite, but I don't hate it as much as most fans seem to. oh, and I like Go Fish and Doublemeat Palace. None of them top 10, but they amuse me.

-d

drnanamom said...

Oh, I am always the weirdo. I liked this episode. Of course it is a hit over the head message - how else would Buffy do it except sardonically. The whole speech about the id and the pleasure principle which Parker is the illustration of and too much beer or other alcohol tends to bring out in us all was central here. I didn't see it as promoting no beer but rather drink beer wisely. And the whole thing is a send up of puffed up college guys and an ode to people who have to put up with them. I enjoyed Willow reeling in Parker in and then stomping on his ego. I also loved that although Buffy was all sappy about Parker her id just wanted to bonk him on the head. I kind of wish I had done that to some of the college guys I dated. It was the straight out silly stuff that Buffy does sometimes but it always has intelligence lurking underneath it. For example: the people serving you at the bar probably have more sense than you so treat them with respect.

sunbunny said...

Is this episode a cinematic treasure? Well, no. But I still enjoy it. Particularly Cave Buffy. SMG did a great job. She actually has great comedic timing, she just hasn't found a show since Buffy that will let her showcase it. This episode is definitely a throw back to season 1 or maybe early season 2. It's really bizarre that this episode was only a few before "Hush," arguably the best episode of the series. As for people who consider this the worst of the series, I would advise them to watch "I Robot, You Jane" again. :)

Billie Doux said...

"Beer Bad" isn't on my list of the very worst episodes. It certainly rubs some people the wrong way, though.

Josie Kafka said...

We should do a poll: our least favorite episodes of our favorite series.

sunbunny said...

Josie - Yes we should.

Billie - "I learned how to drink beer in college, though, because it was cheap." It must've been so sad to be in college before the advent of Two Buck Chuck.

magritte said...

Well, I haven't seen all the episodes as I'm just working my way through Buffy for the first time now...but this is definitely my least favorite. Its heavy-handed messaging, dubious gender-politics, bad psychology and lack of dramatic tension would be bad enough as a stand-alone, but with the context of the fourth season so far, they make me seriously fear for the direction of the show.

I am getting seriously tired of the mopey, whiny, self-respect-free Buffy of this season and it feels like the shows primary purpose is now to be a cautionary tale about what not to do in your freshman year of university. What's next, Buffy freaking out about gaining weight? So far we've learned it's hard to adjust to your first year of college, that you have to be careful of those bad boys who'll lure you into sex and then dump you, that drinking is bad, and that if you have trouble getting along with your roommate, it's probably because she's a demon and should be killed. Some of the episodes have been quite entertaining taken by themselves, but the overall trend is blecch.