tbh xena probably passes the bechdel test a lot more than buffy
Yup. Buffy was ‘kind-of’ empowering and it was light-hearted, but at the end of the day it still mostly (though not solely) revolved around her relationship with men.
I think that’s because of the difference in the themes of the show. Xena’s story was about redemption, and Buffy’s was about growing up. I don’t think the show was mostly about her with men though. I think it was more about her relationship with her friends (with men also being a part of that) and also her growing as a person.She was a teenage girl in an American high school, a major part of being a teenager is having crushes and dating.
If anything, the traditional story of women serving as plot devices for a male character’s growth was flipped. Ex. Angel’s death (which could also be seen as a statement on needing to kill toxic relationships/getting rid of abusers).
Overall let’s look at the women on the show she interacted with:
Willow- they talked about relationships but also self-acceptance (of both her witchcraft and lesbianism), her magic addiction, also Willow was a huge part of solving most problems.
Anya- even though she was “Xander’s gf” adn that was a big part of her on the show, she had her own plots with Buffy dealing with her work as a vengeance demon, Anya’s love of Capitalism/work, etc.
Tara- had her own plot about controlling men, her fear of Willow’s addiction
Joyce- most of her discussions with Buffy were about fearing for Buffy’s safety and acceptance of Buffy’s role as a slayer (there was a little bit about Angel, but not much)
Cordelia- A LOT with Cordelia was about competing for boys, but also about popularity and fitting in.
Faith- Her issues with faith were about feeling good enough/being the “chosen one” when there are 2 of you. Faith interacted with the men in Buffy’s life to get back at her mostly. (I’m sleeping with your boyfriend because it will hurt you, I’m taking Xander’s virginity because he used to like you and I have something to prove)
This excludes characters who were only in 1 or 2 episodes. Think about the girl who felt invisible,
At a given time on Buffy there were usually about 3 main males (Giles/Xander always there) and then whichever man was dating Buffy. They only ever really talked about Buffy with each other and with other characters.
So I agree that men were a big part of Buffy, but they took a major back seat and existed in the same way the action heroes girlfriend exists. They don’t really have their own stories (maybe with the exception of Giles and Xander) like Willow, Faith, and Buffy do.
Sorry if this is long I was just on a Netflix Buffy binge