The Buffy/Angel Opinion Poll

[Originally published on a now defunct web magazine in 2002]

This May, after both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel ended for the season, I composed and posted a short opinion poll on several listservs. Not realizing what I was getting into, I thought it might be fun to get a great many responses, so I asked for some distribution help from friends. The poll ended up on even more lists and scampered a bit around the net, and in the end, I got a LOT of replies.

Compiling them was actually work, but the answers were fascinating -- and a lot of fun.

Trends? Conclusions? Okay, here are some generalizations:

1. Giles is sorely missed. (Well, duh!)

2. Spike is a very popular character, period. People like him good, people like him evil, people like him ambiguous, and a lot of people like him naked.

3. This was a big year for Wesley; the only Angel character more popular than Wesley is Lorne, that lovable green psychic demon. And Lorne isn't even an official cast member! (Although he certainly should be.)

4. Angel and Cordelia, main characters and supposedly the romantic leads, were definitely NOT feeling the love this year.

Here's the poll, with answers, percentages, and commentary. I'd like to thank all of the respondents from BtVS101, TheSlayer_Net List, the Star Trek Women's Terrorist Task Force, the Sunnydale Slayers, One Good Day, and everyone else who took the time to email me their response.

Red alert!!! The questions and answers contain SPOILERS for Buffy the Vampire Slayer season six, and Angel season three! You have been warned! Plus a note on the math... the numbers don't add up to 100%, because I allowed multiple choices and write-ins. If an answer has 75% next to it, it means that exactly three-quarters of the people who replied chose that answer.

Question 1. How would you rate season six of BtVS?

12% a. The best so far.
33% b. It was one of my favorites.
19% c. Very interesting.
23% d. Cool, but it could have been better.
13% e. Not what I'd hoped for.
10% f. Major suckitude.

Very interesting percentages here, probably more positive than I expected when I sent out the poll. Many of the positive write-in comments referred to Spike or the Buffy/Spike relationship as their reason for giving a positive response. The negative comments mentioned "depressing," "uneven," "weird", and "forced." It's odd for a single season to generate such a diverse reaction, that's for sure.

Here are some of the write-in comments:

"It was extraordinary for me, as I only started watching last season. Glory was great - I got hooked, after all - but the Spike and Buffy plotline pretty much changed my life, at least on Saturday nights! So lucky me, I get to watch all the previous seasons for the first time thanks to syndication. I sort of wondered who that Angel guy was."

"I mostly liked the Spike/Buffy sex. I wasn't wild about some of the other parts; didn't seem to mesh so well as some of the other seasons. I'm big on the meshing."

"I think the only character I still liked at the end was Dawn. Oh, and Anya. Anya was very cool. I could lump the rest and toss 'em off a bridge, and wouldn't miss it."

"Occasional bright spots, but they were pretty large with the sucking."

Question 2. If you could change anything about season six, what would it be?

23% a. I wish Xander had married Anya.
63% b. I wish Tara hadn't died.
23% c. I wish Willow hadn't gone all Carrie.
15% d. I wish Anya hadn't become a vengeance demon again.
2% e. I wish Buffy had stayed in the ground.
2% f. I wish Warren hadn't died.
19% g. I wish Buffy had never slept with Spike.
27% h. I wish Spike hadn't gotten a soul.
31% i. I wish Willow had turned Dawn back into a green ball of energy.
13% j. Actually, everything turned out to be pretty cool; no complaints.

Nearly everyone had multiple picks. The winning choice was the wish that Tara hadn't died, a sign of how popular that character had become. I hope it also signals an increasing acceptance of gay characters as well.

The second most popular answer was "Dawn turning back into a green ball of energy." There were several negative write-in comments ("[Dawn is] getting better, but produced far too much whine." and "I might not have wished Dawn to turn back into a green ball of energy, but I was hoping that Willow would trigger something in her that would make her a more interesting character next season." Another dead-on comment was, "Michelle Trachtenberg does a great job, but if [Mutant Enemy] had always written teenagers the way they do Dawn, the show would never have made it past Season 1."

Several mentioned how important it was that Willow experience serious repercussions for what she did.

Three people wrote in that they wanted Giles back from across the pond, and I'm certain that if I had listed it as a choice, nearly everyone would have picked it.

Despite the 27% response, the "I wish Spike hadn't gotten a soul" write-in comments were full of the Spike love. ("It is my opinion that he already had one and that the whole soul bestowed by a demon thing was the easy, magical way out for Joss..." and "I wish Spike hadn't gotten a soul, but only if he ends up like Angel, cause THAT would suck!!"

A couple of other interesting comments:

"I wish Tara hadn't died. Great plot twist, but too sad after Joyce's death last season. Having said that, I have a sneaking suspicion someone dies EVERY season on Buffy."

"Majorly, majorly frustrated with some of the things they did with Xander -- hate the fact that he talks about demons the way a racist bigot talks about African-Americans or Jews."

"I wish Spike hadn't tried to rape Buffy. Dramatically, it made a fair bit of sense; the relationship was so violence-based that clearly his perspective was off. Still, it's an unforgivable act, and I'm sorry my favorite character had to commit it."

Question 3. Spike has a soul now, but we don't know yet what he's going to be. What do you want him to come back as?

35% a. A vampire with a soul, like Angel but without the curse.
31% b. A human with all of Spike's memories.
13% c. William, as he was in "Fool for Love."
42% d. A human/vampire hybrid of some kind, so he can kick butt and get a tan.
12% e. Buffy's watcher.
35% f. I want him to be an evil, soulless vampire again!

The responses were all over the map, with no clear front-running choice. Many of the comments mentioned "any of these would be fun," which indicates to me that Spike is wildly popular, period, no matter what the writers throw at him. Well, that, and the fact that all of the comments were pro-Spike.

Five people took the trouble to write in that if Spike is a vampire with a soul, they don't want him to be anything like Angel.

Several people said that Spike could be anything -- as long as he is still involved with Buffy, and/or still getting naked.

More comments:

"I think that what is really interesting about Spike is the contrast between his power and his vulnerability. I really don't like him as a bumbler."

"Buffy's watcher. Well I must say I never thought of this one and it might be really interesting. Do they still get to sleep together with this option?"

"How about a male slayer?"

"I want him to be an evil, soulless vampire again! And with Dru!"

"If he comes back with a soul, please don't let him come back all mopey and pouty like Angel. But at the same time, Spike is so great at being evil. Would he be as lovable if he had his soul back? Remember, he was a dork when he was human."

"I want him to be an evil, soulless vampire again! (Okay, as long as he's naked at least some of the time.)"

"...Fer cryin' out loud, is Spike ever going to get any credit for the fact that on a number of occasions, he's demonstrated compassion and helpfulness without the benefit of a soul?"

Question 4. Buffy belongs with:

27% a. Angel, even if he is on another network
8% b. Riley, married or not
58% c. Spike, no matter what he is.
13% d. Xander -- forget that friendship thing.
4% e. Giles -- forget that ocean thing.
8% f. Willow, since she no longer has a girlfriend.

Plus write-ins:

4% No one.
2% Someone she hasn't met yet.

Spike has a clear and commanding lead here. Quite impressive, considering what the writers did to smash up that relationship in "As You Were" (Riley and the demon eggs) and "Seeing Red" (the uncharacteristic rape attempt, which has been very controversial with the fans). Didn't work, you conniving writers, you!

Angel came in a distant second, impressive considering he's in another city and on another network. And seriously waterlogged. But still, probably disappointing to those who still want Buffy to be with Angel.

The write-in comments were great; here are some of them:

"My vote goes here [Buffy/Spike] as long as they can maintain the hot sex."

"Spike, no matter what he is. Is this a trick question?"

"And if Buffy can't get off her prima donna little pedestal and recognize exactly what Spike has to offer, then he and Willow would make an excellent pair. "

"I think [Buffy with Willow] would be a great story line. I would rather see her with Willow than with Xander...not a fan of the Xan-man."

"Xander. The best romances teem out of friendship, which is why I'm the huge B/X shipper that I am."

"Someone she hasn't met yet. I'd root for Buffy/Spike, but how can she forgive attempted rape?"

Question 5. If next year is indeed Sarah Michelle Gellar's last, and there is a spinoff series without her, whom would you like in the cast?

49% a. Willow
37% b. Xander
14% c. Dawn
55% d. Giles
47% e. Spike
20% f. Clem
24% g. Anya
22% h. Faith
27% i. All of the above

And one major write-in:

8% No spinoff without Buffy!

Giles, Willow, Spike, and Xander, in that order, were the most popular characters for spinning off, with no reference to who would be the star. Poor Dawn was last. I hope they do something more positive with her character next year.

Many respondents picked nearly all the characters, and there were many references to an ensemble cast. If Gellar does opt out, I think the producers would be wise to retain as many current characters as they can. (Well, duh!) Especially Giles, Willow, Spike, and Xander. (Double duh!)

Part two of this question asked who should be the star. Not everyone chose a star, and only five characters were chosen.

92% Giles
77% Spike
38% Faith
23% Willow
8% Dawn

I expected Giles to be a winner here, especially considering the possible BBC spinoff, but Spike's strong showing was an exciting surprise. I guess I'm not the only fan crazy about Spike.

Faith also did surprisingly well despite her long absence, making me think that "Faith the Vampire Slayer" wouldn't be such a bad idea after all -- as long as it included as many of the original cast as possible.

Comments:

"Can't see it working without all or most of the Scoobies but hey, I was wrong with Angel and really want to see the Giles spin-off."

"[Faith] definitely deserves her own spinoff ... Faith is cooler than Buffy."

"Spike (charisma incarnate.)"

"Any and/or all of the above. With Spike in the lead, because his character is the most complex."

"I love all the characters; I'll watch. But I'd rather they went out strong at the end of season seven instead of dragging on like the X-Files did."

"Love to see Faith after a few years in jail, and as she is the Slayer, well, so we get a name change for the show."

On to the Angel questions!

Question 6. What were your favorite Angel plot lines this year?

16% a. Holtz, Justine, and their gang of vamp slayers
8% b. Fred and Gunn
16% c. Cordelia becoming a demi-demon
12% d. Cordelia and Groo
22% e. Cordelia and Angel
31% f. Darla's pregnancy
35% g. Darla's death
47% h. Wesley's betrayal of Angel/What they did with Wesley
41% i. Angel and Lorne co-parenting the baby
20% j. Connor arriving as a teenager

Write-ins:

8% All the plot lines stunk.

This was definitely Wesley's year. Even though I blew the Wesley choice by phrasing it incorrectly in the first poll go-round (after many write-ins, I re-phrased it to "what they did with Wesley,) it was still the top choice, and most likely would have gone higher if I'd phrased it right the first time.

The other top choice was Angel and Lorne co-parenting the baby. Lorne is a clear favorite with everyone expressing an opinion about him.

Here are some of the write-in comments:

"I really enjoyed the first two seasons of Angel. This season, I was watching largely for Lorne."

"Fred's little arc as it culminated in 'Fredless' really struck a chord with me."

"I wish [Darla had] stayed dead the first time."

"I couldn't stand [the Holtz/Justine] plot line, or the characters."

"I disliked every blasted one of them. I thought it was by far the worst year they've had."

"There were PLOT lines? Color me stunned!"

Question 7. What did you think of this year's Connor plot?

10% a. Loved the plot, loved the actor playing Connor, can't wait for next year.
29% b. I was apprehensive at first, but it turned out better than I expected.
22% c. They still haven't explained how two vampires can have a baby.
29% d. I have serious mixed feelings about it.
24% e. I'm going to reserve judgement until next year.
24% f. Lame, lame, lame.
10% g. Hate the actor, hate the story, make it go away!

We had a lot of "all over the map" and "undecided" on this one. I project that the producers and writers will have to be careful of what they do with Connor next year if they want this plot line to work.

Some of the comments:

"I don't hate the actor; I just hate the plot line. Nothing really changed about that, whether Connor was a baby or a teenager."

"I will say the actor they went with is a great choice."

"Loved the idea of Angel, who met his end as a human just about the age when he was a troublesome youth giving his own father all kinds of headaches, now saddled with the responsibilities of fatherhood. See, now this is a rich and complex bit of karma -- far more subtle than just slapping a bumper sticker -- er, I mean soul -- on him."

"They could still pull it out of the bag, but they could have written the whole thing a lot better. If Lorne doesn't come back, and with no more crossovers, I'm close to giving up."

Question 8. Angel belongs with:

29% a. Buffy, even if she is on another network
27% b. Cordelia, even if she did ascend somewhere
2% c. Fred, who doesn't belong with Gunn
6% d. Lilah, because she obviously digs him
33% e. Lorne, because they really work as a couple

Write-ins:

12% No one
4% Darla
4% Spike

It absolutely delights me that Lorne came out on top here.

There were a lot of write-in choices. I don't think people are leaning strongly in any direction. Bad news for the writers who want Angel with Cordelia. Not so good for the Buffy/Angel relationshippers, either.

Here are some great comments, mostly negative relationship-wise:

"God, Angel needs to get laid, and Lorne knows he'd be a safe bet."

"Darla, in the same form she's in - dust."

"None of the above? I'm trying to remember if he and Faith had good chemistry, despite everything."

"Wesley. In some ways they have the strongest bond of any of the characters."

"Or SPIKE!!! Long live Slash!!!!"

"Keep him AWAY from Spike's Buffy."

"Supposedly he left Buffy because he couldn't give her a real life. Nothing has changed for him, yet here he is with semi-relationships happening all over the place."

"Maybe Angel should just stay single. It would give him one more thing to sulk about."

Question 9. Which character or characters do you most wish would return next year?

57% a. Angel
49% b. Cordelia
71% c. Wesley
43% d. Gunn
39% e. Fred
73% f. Lorne
41% g. Connor
37% h. Lilah
51% i. Lindsey
24% j. Groo
39% k. Skip the demon

What's really interesting here is that, just like we're seeing with the plot lines, Lorne and Wesley are clearly ahead of the pack this year. Lindsey did remarkably well -- better than Cordelia -- and he isn't even on the show any more. (He should be; they need him!) Groo did the worst. Fred, Gunn, and Connor hovered around the same general percentage, and it isn't a good percentage.

There were several unfavorable comments about the direction they're taking Cordelia as a character. As well as what they did with her hair.

Comments:

"I loved Wesley this year and wish they'd given him more to do in the final episodes. He never used to do much for me, but ... I'm finding him very much more attractive and sexy now."

"Lorne, Groo, I love you! Come baaaackkkk."

"Fred is annoying. Skip forever!!"

"I want Doyle to come back! If they can do it for Darla...."

"[What about] everybody's favorite roomie, Phantom Dennis?"

"Cordelia if she's allowed to be Cordelia again. It's right that she's grown and learned to care about other people, but not at the cost of the character losing all her humor and edge, which she has."

"I miss Lindsey. It was fun not knowing which way he'd jump in any given situation."

Question 10. Which character would you most like to vote off the island?

10% a. Angel
33% b. Cordelia
0% c. Wesley
6% d. Gunn
20% e. Fred
0% f. Lorne
14% g. Connor
14% h. Lilah
6% i. Lindsey
31% j. Groo
4% k. Skip the demon

We voted Cordelia off the island, and sent Groo with her.

In a way, the responses to this question were even more telling, although of course they were similar to question nine in reverse. Not that many respondents really wanted to get rid of characters other than Cordelia and Groo (well, Fred was borderline). And no one -- *no one* -- voted Lorne and Wesley off the island.

Here are some of the final write-ins.

"I used to like Cordelia. 'Course, that was back when she had a personality."

"I love Charisma, but either the writer's skills or her acting skills went when she cut her hair and streaked it blonde."

"Without a doubt, Fred. I went from liking her in the beginning to not being able to stand her. It started when they paired her with Gunn, but the point of no return was when she visited Wesley in the hospital."

"Lilah. Why couldn't Dru and Darla have pulled her plug with the rest in the cellar?"

"Groo. Once he cut his hair and started wearing normal clothes, most of the fun went out of the character."

"Angel, even though I know it's not rational... he's just ANNOYING ME even from the bottom of the ocean. Yes, I am truly a psycho."

And that's all, folks. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

1 comment:

The Rush Blog said...

"Someone she hasn't met yet. I'd root for Buffy/Spike, but how can she forgive attempted rape?"


It's a miracle that Spike had forgiven Buffy for her attempt to rape him in "Gone" and treating him like an abused bed warmer.

As for Buffy and Angel . . . she STILL is unaware that he had sanctioned the Powers to Be to wipe away her memories without her consent. I find that disturbing on so many levels.