Please note that I am NOT asking which character you prefer, or which actress was hotter. It’s the two series as a whole I want to discuss.
I cast my vote for Xena: Warrior Princess. There are many reasons, but the first one I’ll give here is that I’ve always preferred character-driven stories to plot-driven ones, and, ultimately, XWP was the former while BtVS was the latter. Toward the end of BtVS–i.e., when Sarah Michelle Gellar torpedoed the show–there was speculation that Eliza Dushku might take over the lead of the show and it would be renamed FAITH the Vampire Slayer. That would never have worked on XWP (which was, as I understand it, similarly killed off by the lead) because that series was always about Xena and Gabrielle; other characters mattered mostly as they affected that central dynamic.
Also, the Xena musical is better, and anyone who says differently is a filthy Welshman.
I’ve only seen a handful of Xena episodes and all of Buffy so you can guess which one I preferred. I used to watch those Hercules made for TV movies starring Kevin Sorbo along with the first season or two but I got bored with it. That boredom pretty much meant I had no interest in Xena when it first appeared and still haven’t found any interest in it since then. One of the episodes I did see had Julius Caesar in it so I’m pretty happy I missed the series as a whole.
Weird, I don’t think there would have been a Buffy without Xena. Still don’t have any interest in Xena though.
I think Buffy’s best episodes were better than Xena’s, and it was more ambitious/deeper (or at least tried so very very hard to be). And yet? Overall I enjoyed Xena more. At least from seasons 3 to 5. Once they time-shifted 25 years, killed off my favorite character, and made the whole freakin’ show about the epic twu wuv between Xena/Gabs, they lost me. But for those three seasons I got a huge kick out of the show, even with its silliness and clunkers, moreso than I ever did Buffy. I can’t but assume this will be a minority choice, Skald the Rhymer.
Buffy lost me after the 6th season, because while I actually enjoyed the Dark Willow arc, the Buffy/Spike crap just made me nauseous. Also Xander was a fave and they totally emasculated him – and he didn’t exactly have that much masculation in the first place! (I have notoriously bad luck with favorite characters.)
BTW, I definitely agree on Bitter Suite being better than Once More, With Feeling. To me, it had better music, better performances, better emotional payoff for the arc. But I suspect we’re gonna be in the minority there, too!
Oh, I KNEW we were going to be in the minority. I only made it a poll because I was wondering if it would be a 10-to-1 rout or something closer.
I disagree about Buffy’s best episodes being better than Xena’s best episodes, in part because I think the single best episode of either series is the musical. (Well, Xena had two, but you know what I mean).
I also disagree about Buffy being deeper and more ambitious, partly because of the Dark Willow (and Angel to Angelus) arc. In both cases, BtVS sidestepped the issue of a major character’s moral corruption by presenting it as being due to outside forces, when it would have been more interesting (and, I think, more honest) to present it as being due to that person’s character flaws. Xena, even at its cheesiest (and it was deliberately cheesy a lot of the time), didn’t blink at the fact that Xena had done bad things and was morally responsible for them, and that she wasn’t ever really going to be free of the stain of guilt. (Note that, when they’re on the run from the cannibals, Xena realizes that, while Gabrielle has forgiven her for the mess with hope, she hasn’t really forgotten it, and probably never will). BtVS, contrariwise, makes excuses for Willow’s abuse of magic and multiple (well, dual) murders.
I missed most of the season of the Xena 25-year-jump, so I won’t comment on it. I did, however, find the Xena season finale a lot more satisfying than the Buffy one.
I too was vexed by the Buffy-Spike affair, though perhaps not for the reasons you were. My reasons are akin to my problems with the Dark Willow arc; the writers seemed to be making excuses for Buffy’s bad behavior in a way that made the story less interesting.
Xena certainly had much greater depth of character. Her transformation from War Lord to savior of people was compelling. I didn’t watch the last seasons after it jumped ahead. I didn’t like what they did to the character.
Buffy was good too. But, she was very young and in some ways immature. She was still in high school the first four seasons. I was a big fan those early years. It wasn’t the same after she went to college. The very last season when she comes back from the dead was unwatchable.
Latinos are generally smart enough not to live on a Hellmouth.
Xena - Meh heroine, cute female sidekick, studly gods (Ares), smoking goddesses (Aphrodite), weird weapons, totally loses it in later seasons.
Buffy - Meh heroine, smoking hot sidekick, studly vampires (Spike) and sidekicks (Xander, Giles), smoking other females (Anya, Faith, Tara, Jenny, Cordy, Harmony, etc.), weird weapons, loses it in later seasons, superior musical episode, better dialogue, more wrenching heartbreak…
Back when they were showing repeats of these supernatural shows on cable channels at nearly the same time, I actually had to decide which one I liked better. Xena was better than Hercules which was better than Charmed which was better than Angel which was better than Buffy. Buffy just spent too much time on the romances without making me care about the characters. Angel at least seemed to have more mythos. Charmed had a light mythos, but it focused on the characters that you cared about them. Hercules built so well on Greek myths that it could be full of mythos and still have time to focus on the character. Xena took it to the next level by actually building on the mythos, and tackling higher themes, while making us care about Gabrielle and Xena’s relationship. Compare that with (the suddenly lesbian) Willow and what’s-her-name.
I heard a lot about Buffy here, and I thought maybe it was worth a second look. You guys got me all worked up for the musical episode (which I stumbled upon online), and I was severely disappointed. I actually had to go to Wiki to figure out what was going on. Too many plot significant points happened just in the music, after early on establishing that the music was filler or repetition. Top that off with the mostly amateur-style uncorrected singing, and it was too easy to ignore what needed to be heard. I felt like I was at a high school production.
BTW, If Skald let us go by hotness, Buffy’s Willow would have won handily over anyone in Xena. Still, Charm’s Paige and Angel’s Fred would have given her a run for her money.
By this logic,* Buffy* is only a half-white show, and half … other - Spike, Anya, Angel, all the antagonists would be not White then, no?
I voted Buffy because I can only take so much cheese in my fantasy, and Xena (and Hercules) were just soooo cheesy. And ahistorical in costume and culture, which doesn’t really come into it for Buffy but really p’s me off for the NZ sword and sandal stuff.
Also, the women in Buffy were way hotter (except Callisto, mmmmm), and their queers less ambiguous and more open. If you’re gonna have hot lesbians, make them out hot lesbians, I say.