By Jeffrey Epstein
Many fans were just disappointed that Willow�s boyfriend Oz [Seth Green] had left the show. �The biggest problem was that people loved Seth so much,� Whedon points out. �We loved him too, but he left. And getting people into a new character is difficult.�
But over the months, fans of the show have warmed to Tara and her relationship with Willow. �I didn�t realize how much so until Tara suffered a tragedy near the end of last season,� says Wanda. �I started getting E-mail after E-mail asking if Tara would be OK, if they were staying together, if Willow would save her. I got things like �You must tell me! Will Tara and Willow make it? I can�t sleep at night. Signed, so-and-so, mother of three.� �
�We do have a bunch of people saying we�ve changed their lives,� says Whedon, who has said in the past that he didn�t want to make Buffy an �issue� show. �I always want to put out good role models. But I wasn�t there saying, �I want to help gay teenagers be comfortable with themselves.� We talked about the idea of college as being a place where people expand their sexuality or discover their sexuality. Then Seth Green decided he didn�t want to do the show anymore. That�s when [Willow�s sexuality] blossomed into full womanhood. To get these responses was wonderfully overwhelming. It turned out to be one of the most important things we�ve done on the show.�
Not that it didn�t cause some grief with the WB. �They were a little thrown,� recalls Whedon. �They said, �We�ve introduced gay characters on all our other shows.� Ultimately, they felt it out, expressed some concern, and called me and said, �Do whatever you want.��
But it was a different story when Hannigan and Benson filmed a steamy lip lock for an episode that aired in the spring. �They called and said, �The kiss -- does it have to stay in?� � says Whedon, who eventually put his foot down. �I said, �It�s not sensational. It�s real. It�s a beautiful scene that belongs in this show. And if you try to take it out, I�m leaving this office and never coming back.� I think that�s the only time I said that.� The WB gave in, and the kiss remained.
�We must have kissed a hundred times,� recalls Benson, whose character initiated the power smooch to comfort her sweetie over the death of Buffy�s mom. �It was very nice.�
�After one take,� remembers Hannigan, �Joss did say, �Can we have one that�s less like you�re going to sleep together in about five minutes?��