Thursday, September 19, 2013

Whedon Week: What makes Joss Whedon so great

Next week, on September 24th, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will premiere on ABC at 8 pm.  This is the most I've ever been excited for a new show, less because I'm a Marvel fan, and more because it's technically Joss Whedon's return to television.  Although he'll only write and direct the pilot, he's giving away the reigns to frequent collaborators like his brother Jed, Maurissa Tanchereon, and Jeffrey Bell; and I'm hoping that it still has that Whedon feel.  So as a way to channel my enthusiasm, I've decided to do something called Whedon Week.  For the next 6 days, I'll be posting various pieces about Joss Whedon's work, ending with a review of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot after it airs.

If you were to ask me for my favorite writers in any medium, there's a handful that readily come to mind: Jason Katims, David Chase, John Green, Todd VanDerWerff, Christopher Ware, etc.  However, Joss Whedon might be the writer I feel the most passionate about.  To me, his oeuvre has no real weak spot (not even Dollhouse, as some people would like you to believe).  One of the greatest strengths of his work is its high rewatchability factor.  Breaking Bad is ending in less than two weeks and even though it's one of my favorite shows ever, I don't imagine rewatching it anytime soon.  But right after I finished Buffy and Angel, I immediately wanted to rewatch them again.  Whenever I have free time, I'll occasionally watch one of my favorite episodes, just so I can revisit the lively worlds and even livelier characters that inhabit them.

Joss Whedon writes how I aspire to write if I were to ever make TV shows or movies.  His scripts are funny, emotional, twisty, experimental -- the list goes on.  Many of the great TV writers are known for making prestige drama, but Whedon's shows always have some sort of sci-fi or supernatural element to them.  He uses genre to play with the exaggerated emotions on display in his shows, and he does it better than anybody I can think of.  Most of his work also has a strong sense of family, with a great mastery of the long game when unfolding relationships.  Characters on Joss Whedon shows grow, change, hurt each other, make mistakes, and act out of deep pain; and it's always well-developed and originates from a logical place.  On top of that, the way that he deals with grief and depression is as raw as it gets.  Some find his excessive need to kill characters (particularly right after they reach a state of peace and happiness in their lives) annoying, and "The Whedon Death" can be very cruel, but the lack of safety regarding the people you love to watch and be around just adds to the excitement.

Most of all, it just boils down to an intangibility factor.  I'm not even sure why he inspires such rabid fandom, but there's something deep within his writing that's so easy to get attached to.  I'm glad he's gained popularity in the movie business, where he was able to extrapolate his knack for experimentation and action-adventure in Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers, because now more of the world will be able to experience the joy of Joss Whedon.  There's a little bit of something for everyone in his work, so dive in if you haven't already.  You'll be in awe of what you find...


  1. I never watched Dollhouse; and I have still yet to watch either Buffy or Angel but I loved Firefly/Serenity and I have had passive interest in Agents of Shield but I'll definitely be checking out the pilot.

    On a side note, I'm actually rewatching Breaking Bad Seasons 3 & 4 in anticipation for this week and next week's episodes (both of which are extended by 15 minutes each [plus commercials]).

    1. Every Whedon show is worth watching because Whedon is god and we all must worship at the altar of Whedon because Whedon Whedon Whedon. I have an article going up tomorrow where I rank all of his work, and technically Firefly is my least favorite show of his.

      This comment has been paid for and sponsored by the Joss Whedon Foundation.

    2. Wait, Firefly is your least favorite show of his, and yet it tops Angel and Dollhouse?

      I know you said it was close, but you're being conflicting here.

    3. Firefly is my least favorite of his, but paired with Serenity (which I like more than show), it gets the edge over Dollhouse and Angel.

    4. Ah ok. I missed that that was the specific reason.