The Kennedy Factor
The longer I am in the Jossverse fandom, the more I come to understand the way things work. Spuffy and Bangel and Cangel fans will all always hate each other, Fred will always belong to Wesley, and Willow is never, ever allowed to love anyone but Tara. Which, of course is why most of the fandom, hates Kennedy. Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t like her at first either. I thought she was nothing more then Faith, Light. Half the calories, half the acting ability.
Then, I rewatched season 7 with a slightly more open mind. Tara, was, in all regards, dead. Willow, wasn’t. No one wants to watch Willow cry all season 7 over her lost lover, that’s just not good TV. Buffy had to move on from Angel, and now Willow has to move on from Tara. She just… needed to. And unlike every other romantic interest on the show, Kennedy had a whole of 12 episodes to sweep in and steal one of the main Scoobies hearts. Not an easy task. She was also the only potential with that much screen time. And Iyari’s acting, while not all that great, improved over the season. You also have to consider she was almost always put against Alyson Hannigan, who has been playing Willow for 7 years. I mean, you must be intimidated by being the only non-Scooby in the scene. All that considering, I think by the end, Iyari was doing pretty decent.
Not many people liked Tara when she was first introduced at Willow’s new love interest, they were all still bitter about losing Oz. But over the course of 2 and a half seasons, we all got to know and love Tara like Willow did. We saw Tara through Willow’s eyes, saw her fall in love with the shy witch, and we all knew why Willow loved her. I mean, who wouldn’t?
We were denied that luxury with Kennedy. We had from “Bring on the Night” to “Chosen” to watch their relationship build. And we only got to see it from Kennedy’s eyes. We all could see the adoration Kennedy had for the red-headed witch, but the writers failed to show why Willow would fall for, who has been called, the “anti-Tara.” While one could easily draw parallels to Oz and Tara’s personalities, Kennedy doesn’t really fit Willow’s pattern. Or, she doesn’t if you leave out Willow’s first real love, Xander. Kennedy and Xander’s personalities are far closer then Kennedy is too Willow’s other lovers. They both have a habit of speaking out of turn, both can be rude, both have a nasty habit of speaking the truth when no one else wants to hear it, and they both completely adore Willow. So, Willow’s feelings for Kennedy are not that unfounded. Also, after what she went through in Season 6, it makes sense for her to get into a relationship where she is less dominant. Willow was at a time in her life where she was, in all reality, scared of herself. She needed someone to take care of her, be there in case she lost control, to “tether her down.” Willow didn’t have the emotional ability to be the backbone of a relationship, it would have been to much on her.
Now, for the accusation that Kennedy is nothing more then a watered down Faith, I am inclined to disagree. True, they are both loud mouthed, bratty, sometimes self absorbed rebels that like to make Buffy’s life harder, but there is a significant difference between where that comes from. For Faith, it is a defense mechanism put up because of years of getting hurt. She needed it in place to protect herself from further pain. In Kennedy’s case, she was just someone use to getting her way, and enjoyed doing so. While it was shown that Faith was really nothing more then a scared little girl inside, Kennedy really just was a brat. So, if anything, Kennedy is the much realer version of that personality, and Faith is just trying to hide her true self.
Now, there is one last argument I have heard, and this pisses me off more then anything put against Kennedy, that she forced Willow into having sex in “Touched.” Now, I have watched that scene several times, trying to see where this accusation could have come from. The only
hesitation Willow had was about her losing control. She never once indicated she did not want to have sex with Kennedy, she just said she didn’t want to go off the deep in. But once she and Kennedy had talked about it (something that isn’t often done if the sex is forced or even heavily persuaded) Willow was completely willing and ready to take that step. The words “no” or anything to that effect never came out of Willow’s mouth, or was evident in her body language. There was nothing wrong about Willow sleeping with her girlfriend, they did wait a little while, and it was in no way forced.
In conclusion, while I, the audience, Willow, and even Kennedy understand that no one will ever be Tara in Willow’s heart, and she will never be replaced by anyone, there is still room for Willow to fall in love again.