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Half Pint: Lauren vs. Willow and Tara — Episode 19

September 24, 2013 by Drinks at The Dal

Lauren in Food for Thought

Lauren vs. Willow

  • When Stephanie first started watching Lost Girl and noticing the Buffy connections, she thought of Lauren as the “Willow” because the skills Lauren brings to solving the case of the week, namely her scientific knowledge and general intelligence, are similar to the skills Willow brought to the group in the early seasons of Buffy.
  • A comparison could also be made between the storylines of Lauren losing Nadia and Willow losing Tara since both women were innocent bystanders who were “collateral damage” in a conflict between the heroines and a Big Bad.

Lauren vs. Tara

While Lauren and Willow do resemble each other in their “Stand back — I’m going to try science” approach, Lauren actually seems to have far more ready comparisons to Tara.

  • When the characters are introduced, the audience is encouraged to doubt their motivations. Season one of Lost Girl suggests at times that Lauren’s loyalties lay more with The Ash than with Bo, and when Tara is first introduced it is clear that she has a secret.
  • Both of them have more reserved, somewhat socially awkward personalities. They also elicited similar polarized fan reactions — some people really like the characters, while others don’t seem to trust Lauren and Tara. Kris speculates that it might be because their more reserved nature means that they aren’t expressing their thoughts as much as the other more larger-than-life characters.
  • Despite having more experience with the Fae or the supernatural, both Lauren and Tara are the outsiders of the main group.
  • Willow’s main story arc of the entire series of Buffy was her increasing fascination with power and ultimately her struggle to use it ethically. As demonstrated by Lauren’s actions in season three, she is the complete opposite of Willow in that regard, and she is very concerned with the ethical use of power. Tara also represents this voice and clashes with Willow about ethical uses of witchcraft.
  • Lauren and Tara may share this view because they both seem to have been witness to gross abuses of power. Lauren has been tricked into being an indentured servant to the Light Fae, and Tara was tricked into thinking she was a monster for much of her life. Because of these situations, they also both enter the world of the supernatural in subjugated positions.

Announcing a new Orphan Black podcast!

Kris and Stephanie are starting a new podcast together called Tatiana Is Everyone about the sci-fi series Orphan Black. It’s a weekly podcast with new episodes on Thursdays. The introductory episode was released last week. You can listen to and download episodes over at tatianaiseveryone.com, and you can follow the podcast on Twitter @TIEpodcast.

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  1. Well, I loved this half pint! I loved Buffy and it was fun to hear you guys comparing Lauren to both Willow and Tara, as well as noting the differences between them. I agree that Lauren has more in common with Tara, although the biggest difference that I think they have personality-wise is Tara’s extreme lack of confidence (as opposed to shyness). While Lauren can be awkward too, she emanates more self-confidence than Tara ever did. I like to think that if Tara had lived and grown up into a 30-35 year old woman, she probably would have developed a similar level of confidence.

    When you guys talked about their mutual awkwardness, I remembered Tara’s “insect reflection” joke and it immediately reminded me of Lauren’s “nitrates are cheaper than day rates” joke. The difference was that Bo didn’t get Lauren’s joke at all, while Willow understood Tara’s and laughed about it (though the rest of the Scooby gang didn’t get it). I relate to both of them too for various reasons, one being that I constantly am coming up with original jokes and some are better understood or received than others by those around me.

    The pun is the lowest form of humor!

    Speaking of comparing characters, a friend who started to watch Lost Girl at my behest said that her impression of the first season was that Bo and Kenzi were totally extremely similar to Xena and Gabrielle. Lead character with a dark past who tries to overcome it, wisecracking younger best friend, and so on.

    • Lauren is indeed more confident than Tara, but I think we had more confidence and sense of self coming from Tara before she was… Well. You know. I don’t like to talk about it. I love her giving Spike a hard time in “Older and Far Away.”

      • sallyheaven says:

        Yes, Tara was on her way toward becoming a self-confident, self-actualized person. When she broke up with Willow and was by herself for a while, we saw a lot of that. Parallels to Lauren’s break with Bo, in fact. Taking back her power.

    • Kris says:

      Puns are awesome. If episode titles are any indication, the Lost Girl writers agree with me.

      In Bo’s defense, she was distracted when Lauren told her joke. I like to think that Bo would have at least courtesy-laughed if she hadn’t been.

      I’m also going to go ahead and speculate that the disparity in confidence is related to their upbringings. We know that Tara grew up expecting to become a monster, and that has to mess with your mind on so many levels. While we don’t know much about Lauren’s younger years, I think it’s safe to assume a certain amount of support (from somewhere – parents, teachers, etc.) in order to become a doctor so brilliant that supernatural beings want to own you. Right?

      • True, Bo was distracted. And you’re very right about why probably Tara and Lauren show differing levels of self-confidence. Without her terrible upbringing and awful family (except for her late mom) she would have probably grown into a shy, introverted, but very confident woman. (Like she was in my Buffy fanfic!)

  2. Aaron says:

    Lauren VS Willow AND Tara? She’s so awesome you need two characters to describe her on another show. Ha. 🙂

    I have to say, this was a really great comparison podcast! I too instantly thought “Willow” when it came to Lauren because of the science/magic aspect and the knowledge skills plus she’s an important part of the main group but the more you two talked I could see the Tara connection. 🙂

    I guess the reason I didn’t think about Tara really is because I missed the time when her character was on; once Faith and Cordelia were gone so was I to watch “Angel”. Ha. So I missed everything really with Tara and only picked back up in the Kennedy era because Eliza was back on; which probably explains why I’m a Willow/Kennedy fan…although I have nothing major against Tara because I haven’t seen enough of the character.

    Anyways, I loved the differences between Willow and Lauren you pointed out – Willow is more upbeat all the time where Lauren is pretty reserved and Willow does use her magic not always for the best reasons where as Lauren is very ethical in her science.

    “Stand back — I’m going to try science” – I liked that blurb. 🙂

    As for the term “indentured servant”…I think the term slave fits more; she got tricked into being a slave because “indentured” leans itself to the idea that eventually the service period will end and as we know – Lauren is never getting away from the fae world, she’s in it for life.

    Both Lachlan and the first season Ash made sure to make deals that would trap her there so while on the surface she may appear indentured, she’s actually a slave.

    Again a REALLY nice podcast comparison; I wouldn’t have considered Tara as a Buffy Lauren until you broke it down like that. 🙂

    And you go Kris by the way; tell that cable box who’s boss! 😉

    • Kris says:

      I love Tara. She’s a kind, gentle, compassionate character — which was much-needed during the fifth and sixth seasons of BtVS, especially.

      I also love the phrase “Stand back — I’m going to try science”.

      I’m going to stick with “indentured servant”. Yes, the system turned out to be rigged, but Lauren did make an agreement with the Ash. I’m fairly certain the show has avoided the word “slave”. Not that she isn’t one. I just think that, given the connotations of those terms, “indentured servitude” more accurately reflects how Lauren came to be in service to the Ash.

      • Aaron says:

        What happened in S5 and S6 Kris that made you feel Tara was so needed?

        Again I ask because I checked out on Buffy after S3; only time I checked back in was when Faith was on or there was some decent Anya stuff going on. Was more into “Angel”. 🙂

        “I’m fairly certain the show has avoided the word “slave”” – they have definitely skirted it; they’ve said she’s a pet, chattle, owned, property but they avoid going the full on word. It all means the same thing – Lauren is a slave to them but they’ve never said that word for some reason; I wonder why? It’s what she clearly is so why not voice it clearly just once…make it so there’s no confusion about the situation.

        I agree indentured servant is what Lauren agreed to with the first Ash, but since he conned her it makes her a slave. Same with Lachlan, the lying takes it from indentured servitude to slavery. But that’s my opinion. 🙂

        • I think the show avoids using the words “slave” or “slavery” because of the history of slavery in North America and the still thriving slave trade worldwide. Frankly, I don’t think it would be racially or culturally sensitive of them to use those words to describe Lauren’s situation. While debt bondage is one form of contemporary slavery, it does not usually look like Lauren’s situation. Lauren lives in a nice apartment, works in a safe environment, seems to be paid a salary, and has relative freedom over her daily activities. She is not kept in poverty, sexually abused, regularly cloistered, or beaten. If the show were to call what Lauren deals with “slavery,” it would greatly diminish the actual experience of being in slavery that millions of people still face everyday.

        • I think Lauren’s situation with the Light Fae is like a roach motel. She could check in, but she can’t check out. With the acknowledgement that she was tricked into checking in by the old Ash’s cursing of Nadia, and that the Fae don’t allow non-owned humans to know about them or roam free, as it were, so she was basically doomed once they decided she had something they needed or wanted.

          Drinks at the Dal’s comment below about the slavery still happening in the world is a sobering reminder. Lauren lacks the free will to leave or to opt out of her Fae life, and she does live in a gilded cage (but still a cage), but actual slavery, past and present, is horrifying and it’s probably a good decision for the show to have avoided that term in their descriptions of her situation.

        • Kris says:

          (Spoilers for seasons 5 & 6 of BtVS. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.)

          In a lot of ways, seasons 5 & 6 were about how difficult it is to become an adult. It’s often said that the “big bad” of season six is “the real world”. There’s a great deal of loss in those seasons. The serious, crushing kind of loss. Buffy’s mom dies in the fifth season, and Tara (who had lost her mom a few years prior) really provides a sympathetic ear for Buffy and Dawn. In some ways, Tara becomes the group caretaker. After Buffy sacrifices herself at the end of the fifth season, Willow and Tara move into the Summers house to take care of Dawn. Tara and Dawn are very close throughout the season.

          After Buffy is resurrected, she feels “wrong” and starts doing things she doesn’t like and feels guilty about. She confesses to Tara, expecting and asking for judgement (as she’s judging herself quite harshly), but Tara offers nothing but compassion and acceptance. It’s a beautiful scene — not unlike Faith’s breakdown in the rain on Angel.

          My point being that the prominence of the cruelties of real life in those seasons really needed the counterbalance of Tara’s unwavering kindness and compassion.

  3. Aaron says:

    “I think the show avoids using the words “slave” or “slavery” because of the history of slavery in North America and the still thriving slave trade worldwide.” – that’s what I was figuring.

    Still, if you’re going to go to the trouble of creating a storyline like hers and you’re going to call her other things like “property”, “chattel”, and “pet” and make it known she’s owned by the Ash then why not say the slave word at least once? Because that’s what she is; it might have started as an indentured servitude role as Kris said but the lying by both previous Ashes makes it slavery.

    “it does not usually look like Lauren’s situation.”

    True, but this is modern times and even if the ascetics have changed it doesn’t mean the concept has you know? 

    “Lauren lives in a nice apartment”

    Which gets invaded regularly by the fae; Lachlan walked right in and took over. Just because she has a place to live doesn’t mean her situation is all pleasant. Having nice things doesn’t exclude you from being a possible slave.

    “works in a safe environment”

    That’s highly debatable I think. We’ve seen what happens when she disagrees with Lachlan at least – she got locked up for four days in a dungeon…that doesn’t happen when anyone else disagrees with people.

    She’s subject to bombings as shown in the season 1 finale, killing Nadia was constantly used as a threat against her, and we still don’t know what happened with any possible Vex fallout with the season 1 Ash. Plus there’s the fact she could be executed for things just at the whim of the Ash and no one but Bo would really say anything about it because she’s his property to do with what he/she will. Safe is debatable to me when it comes to Lauren’s situation.

    “seems to be paid a salary”

    Yes she has a place to live, clothes, and food but that doesn’t mean she gets a salary. It’s basic upkeep to keep her alive and if you want her to work for your side she has to be alive so I can’t agree really on the salary thing.

    Until we hear her say – “I just have to run by the bank to cash my check” then I’m going with the concept of the Ash is paying for things but Lauren never sees a dime honestly.

    “and has relative freedom over her daily activities.”

    I’m 50/50 on this one as that varies by Ash.

    As we’ve seen season 1 Ash and Hale were pretty lenient with her going around but Lachlan was more for keeping her locked up. Yes it was mostly to get at Bo but he still did it and the next Ash could do the same so it just depends on who the Ash is as to how much freedom she gets in her daily life.

    “She could check in, but she can’t check out.”

    She’s definitely stuck in that world for the rest of her life! No way the fae, either side, will just let her go with all she knows on them. Some fae is always going to be watching her.

  4. Amber says:

    I am in complete awe with your comparisons. This is genius. Especially your reasoning with Tara & Lauren. Bravo! Well done!

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