I like me some Joss Whedon. I consider Angel and Firefly two of the best shows of the last 15 years. I "grr, arg" along with the end credits every time. The man knows how to write dialog, how to make badasses of the doofiest of nerds, how to make sexpots of the most unlikeliest of actors. He is a ginger titan, a colossus bestriding the tube of boob. Joss Whedon knows how to make great television. If only he did it more consistently, and without all the accompanying bullshit ...
5He Will Slaughter Everything That Makes You Happy Inside
Firefly fans loved Wash. Who didn't love Wash? Joss rammed a tree trunk through his chest for no reason. Penny from Dr. Horrible might be the most innocent, sweet natured girl Whedon's ever written. She ends Dr. Horrible bleeding out with a chunk of shrapnel stuck in her body, Normandy Beach style. Why? There is only one real lesson in Whedonland, and it's that loving cool people is dangerous because someone's probably gonna shove a flaming rock into their skull.
In fact, this is the only way Whedon characters achieve growth. It's a recognized cliche amongst his fanbase: If someone makes you happy when you see them onscreen, grab your balls, because he's going to lacerate them heavily. Sometimes I don't mind a good nut-stabbing. I like The Wire, I like Battlestar Galactica. But sometimes I just wanna sit back and watch Doogie Howser sing songs about horsies into his webcam. It's at those times that I'd rather Joss Whedon not pop up like the "Toasty!" guy from Mortal Kombat and pulp my yambag with senseless death.
4This Whole Feminist Empowerment Thing Smells Fishy
Yeah, Buffy kicked unholy ass, Zoe was Mal's Terminatrix-like enforcer, Faith begat Echo and Echo is the baddest ass Kung Fu Whore TV has ever seen, and yet, aside from the fact these girls have done some push ups and punched masculinity in its shriveled balls time and again, the idea that Whedon is some sort of hyper-feminist stinks as bad as Eliza Dushku's "acting."
Joss shoots his actresses most lovingly when they're wet and crying and curled up in the fetal position, pressed up against a wall, broken, mascara running, bleeding, and reaching out. And what are they typically reaching out for? Some dude (or vampire or werewolf) and the dick he's attached to.
That's it. That's as complex as it gets. Sound familiar? That's because it's also the image of women we get from every other movie or show written by men. And yet when a lisping nerd who tritely describes himself as "a lesbian in a man's body" does it to a high-school cheerleader, it's "feminist." This is like when Toni Morrison called Bill Clinton "The First Black President." You could only say such a thing if you were THAT willing to settle. His two most artistically successful shows are Angel and Firefly, both centered on men, and written from a male point of view. If I wanted to be glib (and I usually do) Angel and Firefly worked because they're basically "Batman in LA" and "Han Solo, the TV Show," respectively.
I just made Star Wars 30-million times cooler. You're welcome.