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'Buffy' nostalgia react: These fairy tales should have been episodes

Season 3 | Episode 11 | “Gingerbread” | Aired Jan 12 1999

After watching “Gingerbread” as a kid, I remember wishing fervently that Buffy the Vampire Slayer had done more fairy tale episodes. Now, as an adult, I can’t say I would mind more BtVS takes on fairy tales, but I do at least acknowledge the other fairy tale themes and allusions that have made it into the series (the combination of fifth-grade tunnel vision and only having made it to the midpoint of season 3 allowed me to think this was the only one ever at the time).

What this episode really got me thinking about were the other fairy tale moments in Buffy—and omitted tales that would have been a perfect fit for the show.

The tales that did make it into the show:

Hansel & Gretel: Obviously this is the entire premise of “Gingerbread,” right down to the allusory title. In “Gingerbread,” two little kids are murdered, and their ghosts haunt the adult who finds them (in this case, Joyce Summers), driving her to start a witch hunt in the town to feed the monster the kids really are. If you want to be really hit over the head with it, Giles and Buffy do so nicely in this exchange (with a little help from Oz and Xander):

Giles: There is a fringe theory held by a few folklorists that some regional stories have actual, um, very literal antecedents.
Buffy: And in some language that’s English?
Oz: Fairy tales are real.
Buffy: Hans and Gre—Hansel and Gretel?
Xander: Wait. Hansel and Gretel? Bread crumbs, ovens, gingerbread house?
Giles: Of course. It makes sense now.
Buffy: Yeah, it’s all falling into place. Of course, that place is nowhere near this place.
Giles: Some demons thrive by fostering hatred and, uh, persecution amongst the mortal animals. Not by destroying men, but by watching men destroy each other. Now, they feed us our darkest fear and turn peaceful communities into vigilantes.
Buffy: Hansel and Gretel run home to tell everyone about the mean old witch.
Giles: And then she and, probably, dozens of others are persecuted by a righteous mob. It’s happened all throughout history—happened in Salem, not surprisingly.

Hansel & Gretel (again)/Generic Grimm-esque fairy tale: I would argue that the “Hansel & Gretel” tale made its way into the Buffy-verse a season before “Gingerbread,” in “Killed by Death.” The demon in “Killed by Death,” Der Kinderstod, can only be seen by people sick with a high fever, and it feeds on sick children in the hospital. Sure, there isn’t any abandonment or an enticing house made of candy, but the demon targets children who are separated from their parents, and it does kind of eat them (or at least their souls or life force). It certainly feels Grimm.

Beauty and the Beast: This one made it in as a title, and the fairy tale gets a little bit of a mash-up with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the plot of the episode. Namely, the Stockholm syndrome-y way the battered girlfriend/beauty, Debbie, stays with her beast of a boyfriend, Pete.

Little Red Riding Hood: In season 4’s “Fear, Itself,” Buffy dresses as Little Red Riding Hood for Halloween. She doesn’t actually become Red (even though its events are definitely referenced), but the costume does tie in nicely with Buffy’s fear of being alone, abandoned and unable to make it without her friends.

Brilliantly Grimm-esque made up characters: Probably Buffy’s best fairy tale–themed episode isn’t a standard tale at all. Season 4’s “Hush” features The Gentlemen, creepy fairy tale villains who come to a town, steal everyone’s voices, then brutally murder people in the silence. Even though it’s not a reference to any fairy tale (or, at least, none that I can think of), the Grimm-like vibes make it impossible to ignore in a BtVS fairy tale roundup.

The tales that maybe should have made it into the show:

The 12 Dancing Princesses: This is a personal favorite of mine, so I’m biased, but seeing Buffy & Co. travel through the magical land (or, your know, demon dimension) of the dancing world would be kind of amazing.

Rumpelstiltskin: This one would only have worked season 5 or 6, with Dawn as the person dumb enough to make a deal with a demon that required guessing something she could never hope to come up with on her own. But don’t you totally believe that Dawn would do it? Or Xander. Xander could also be to blame, a la “Once More with Feeling.”

Rapunzel: The whole “damsel in the tower lets down her hair” part wouldn’t work great in the universe, but in the original tale, Rapunzel and the Prince don’t get away safe right away (and he’s not as suave as Flynn Rider). Instead, he falls into a patch of thorns and is blinded—forced to wander blind and homeless through his own kingdom for years looking for Rapunzel. She eventually cures his blindness with her tears, because fairy tales. Season 3 Angel could definitely have gone through some similar trials and tribulations.

And now I have the urge to party like it’s 2001 and write some Buffy fan fiction.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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