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Major Buffy the Vampire Slayer spoilers ahead! If you haven't seen the series, I suggest you go to Netflix right now and get started. (Reading on will only fill your brain with spoilers.)
To those who have seen the show, Amber Benson (aka Tara) did an Ask Me Anything session today, and as you might imagine, the actor (slash-writer-director-producer) got a lot of Buffy-related questions. When asked what was most rewarding about playing Tara, Benson spoke extremely positively about her character's romantic involvement with Alyson Hannigan's Willow, particularly for the impact it had as a presence for same-sex couples on television.
The exact question Benson was asked over at Reddit during the AMA was, "What did you enjoy the most or what was most rewarding about playing the character of Tara?," to which Amber Benson responded:
The most rewarding thing about playing Tara was that the relationship on Buffy between her and Willow helped kick open the door for more amazing LGBTQ characters on TV. We were so blessed to walk in their shoes and play those ladies. It's one of the things I am most proud of in my life.
Amber Benson's character Tara Maclay was first introduced in Buffy the Vampire Slayer's fourth season, which aired in 1999-2000. Tara and Alyson Hannigan's Willow clicked immediately, resulting in Willow discovering her interest in the same sex -- specifically, Tara. Friendship, romance and magic ensued. Tara and Willow went on to be a great representation of a same-sex relationship in a scripted drama, and they proved to be one of the best romantic couples in the series' seven-season history. ("I got so lost." "I found you." - says it all.) That's a credit as much to the writing as it is to Hannigan and Benson's undeniable chemistry.
Amber Benson was asked about how she feels about changing the face of LGBT representation on TV, and she responded with praise for series creator Joss Whedon and his ability to create "real characters."
I feel very blessed to have played Tara on Buffy. It wasn't about gratuitous making-out scenes. It was about 2 people who just happened to be of the same gender falling in love. Joss wrote real characters. He wasn't trying to fill quotas. He was trying to create 2 people who just happened to be gay.
Fans of the series will likely agree with her on that. The same-sex nature of Tara and Willow's relationship was addressed on occasion, when it was relevant. But Buffy the Vampire Slayer was always a series to choose the metaphor over a more literal approach. In the case of Tara and Willow, their participation in witchcraft was more often a focal point than their sexuality. Of course, their mutual interest in and skill with magic was a big part of the connection that sparked, right from the beginning, and it proved to be a big turning point for Willow in many ways. Looking at the series as a whole, Amber Benson's character was crucial to Willow's character development, and the series benefited from that.
Of course, all good things must come to and end, and for Willow and Tara, that happened near the end of Season 6, when a stray bullet caught Tara in the back and killed her. It was a devastating end, not only for Amber Benson's character, but for Tara and Willow's relationship. But what if Tara hadn't died? Where would she and Willow be today? Here's Amber Benson's idea of Tara and Willow's perfect future:
They would open an ice cream shop and live happily ever after. In my heart, that's their future.
What else did Amber Benson reveal during her AMA? Let's run through some of the other Buffy-related highlights, shall we?"
How did you react when you learned of Tara's fate?
Well, Joss took me aside during filming for the Season 5 finale and told me he had 'exciting' news. Which was that Tara was gonna die. I was like: "Oh, wow, that's...uh, great..." Inside I was like: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
(I'm guessing that "Noooooooo" was the exact universal reaction from viewers about a second after Tara said "Your shirt" in her final scene.)
Which scene was your favorite (or least favorite) to film?
The whole Buffy ep. THE BODY. it was gut wrenching.
Have you ever attempted to get revenge on Adam Busch in any way for killing you?
I dated him. That was revenge enough. Poor guy.
How did they get the mustard out?
A lot of scrubbing. hehehe.
She would "LOVE" to come back for more work on Buffy ("I think that's really up to other people, though. Probably Tim Minear.").
Alyson Hannigan apparently smells like "honeysuckle and happiness."
Amber Benson thinks it would be awesome for Tara to be a Vampire Slayer for a day.
And, unrelated to Buffy, Amber Benson's favorite TV show of 2014 is Outlander. Excellent answer.
Benson has lots of great answers, in fact. You can read through the full AMA over at Reddit.