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18 June 2014
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Doug Petrie with weaponry. Grrr!
Doug Petrie
Buffy producer's inside guide

Wild at Heart
Oz departs as controversy brews...

BBC : I suppose, to a certain extent, Wild at Heart was something of a story that was born out of necessity. Could you talk us through the repercussions of Seth Green going off to make a movie?

Doug Petrie: We had some notice that Seth would be leaving, so we had time to plan and prepare for that. This episode was the result and we didn't know if we would get him back or if we did get him back, when. Of course again this is the problem with having actors who are as successful as the actors we have. It's a nice problem to have, and we all love the idea of Seth coming back to the show, because he's great to work with and a fan favourite, with good reason.

So we had a lot of time, we knew that he would be taking off from the show for a while and Marti Noxon wrote this very sad episode where Willow has her heart broken. There's not much comfort there.

BBC : Given that Oz was out of the picture, was the concept of Tara and the whole ‘gay’ concept germinating at that point, and did it really spring from that one line in Doppelgängland?

Doug Petrie: I think Tara was percolating in the back of Joss's brain for quite some time, and he would mention it to us. Other writers may tell you differently, Joss may tell you differently, but my recollection is that Joss had mentioned this and we didn't know how seriously to take it. We didn't know. We make a lot of jokes in the office and we weren't entirely sure that this wasn't another one. Then, around this time, it became clear that he was not kidding and that Willow would find a girlfriend. We were like "Well, okay" and then we [opened] this whole can of worms...

It was I think a bit naive of us to think that we could do that without a fairly large political response to having two girls having a relationship on television. The one thing that we knew was a lot of TV shows do this - I'm not sure what American shows make it over there and are shown over there - but there are a lot of American shows where they'll have a lesbian relationship and it's a complete rip off.

They advertise it and they sensationalise it and they say, "Tune in next week and watch two girls kiss". And then the following week they go back to where they were before! It's a stunt and we were very opposed to that. We wanted it to be a real relationship, where it's organic and it's genuine. So far - correct me if I'm wrong - but so far I don't think they've kissed on screen?

BBC : I can't think of an instance, no.

Doug Petrie: They've snuggled and they've held hands and they're clearly in a relationship: they've even made dirty jokes, alluding to what they do off screen, but we've never had them kiss, so far.

BBC : Sometimes I suppose that's more effective, there's no point in just ramming it down people's throats.

Doug Petrie: There was a much larger response than we were really prepared for, and we were all a little annoyed. (laughs) I mean, come on, this is reality, this is life and they were saying, "Where are you going to have them kiss? Are you going to do this? Are you going to do that?"

Then the gay and lesbian community was very vocal about, "You must do this and you must not do that," and we're again kind of saying, "Listen, we're never going to be homophobic on this show but at the same time we are telling a story and we are storytellers, and we have the right to tell our story the way we want to." We don't want to be pressured from the left or the right to have people say "well for personal and political reasons you must do this with the story" or "you must do that for the story." But you know what? We're telling the story.

Read our episode guide to Wild at Heart >>

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