2.20.2012

Darker Sisters: Olivia

Name: Olivia

Seen in: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996)

Portrayed by: Phina Oruche

Role: She has a friends-with-benefits relationship with Buffy's watcher, Rupert Giles.

Verdict:  Fail.  Fail, fail, fail, fail, FAIL.

Mind you, the problem with Olivia is more of a gender thing than a skintone thing.  Her character basically flies in from Britain once every few episodes and rolls around the sack with Giles.  She's not fleshed out; we don't even know her last name.  She has maybe 10-15 lines combined from all the episodes she was on Buffy, and after reassuring the audience that Giles is a man capable of bedding a very attractive woman, she fades to the background so that the characters who actually matter can take over.

I'm amused that a show like Buffy, with all its chatter about girl power and all that jazz, would even scribble such a role for a woman.  She's little more than a bed-warmer.  I have a feeling that since both actor Anthony Stewart Head (Giles) and Phina are both from Britain, he put in a word for her or something and landed her the gig.

Olivia appears as part of Giles's dream sequence at the very end of Season 4.  She's once again in the background, uttering a line or two in the whole episode, pushing an empty stroller, and then later weeping while pregnant.  During the audio commentary, Joss Whedon - who wrote and directed the episode - explains that a part of Giles wants to settle down with Olivia, and that he feels pressured to make a decision.  I had to raise my eyebrow on that one; Giles and Olivia just barely have "the talk", and she doesn't have enough screen time or dialogue to convince us that she actually matters to the writers...or the fans...or even the haters.  And in the dream, when she's pregnant and crying, Giles offhandedly remarks, "Don't push me around.  You know I have a great deal to do."

Also in that episode, the divine visage of Phina is marred by garish blue eye shadow and clown red lipstick - WRONG.







13 comments:

  1. I didn't even know they had a black character on Buffy - so what does that tell you.

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  2. OMG, I totally forgot about her character. I remember her most from that ep "Hush." And you're right...I do remember that even before they all lost the ability to speak, she barely said anything. And the funny thing is, as whitewashed at they were, if Buffy and pre-Gun Angel was on TV now, I probably wouldn't watch it.

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  3. I remember her as Giles's Transatlantic booty call...I think she popped up twice.

    At any rate, I had thankfully forgotten the hideous makeup. It's like they didn't want to invest in any makeup for the black lady and she got stuck with that mess. (And I swear I feel as though I've seen that phenomenon with some black female newscasters...awful lipsticks and eyeshadows b/c they can't be bothered to get them proper colors).

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  4. WWooohh. Your face, dammit!!

    That has to be the worst makeup I've ever seen and I'm a makeup newb.

    They had to try hard to make her ugly huh?

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    Replies
    1. She looks a hot ass mess. I would have refused to appear on camera looking like a black female version of Tim Curry from Rocky Horror.

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  5. I remember all of this except that freakish make-up. Ew... no go.

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  6. Yeah I agree.

    I remember Joss saying that the reason Giles and Olivia didn't work out was because Olivia couldn't handle learning about the dark and the supernatural and honestly that's an interesting take to have someone say DO NOT WANT and get gone and stay alive.

    But the execution left a lot to be desired. Hell she didn't even get a proper exit. We didn't learn much about her and they should've given her more episodes to explore her character and complexity and that was definitely a huge missed opportunity. Hell, that could've been an opportunity to learn more about Gile's past through her.

    But I won't lie though. When Joss rolled out in his robe and that fine dark skinned sista walked out (and on the WB no less), I about damn near passed out. I was screaming GET IT RIPPER. And that's why the Brits do it better. For all the other fails, they can at least appreciate a fine sister.

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  7. And yes...that scene made me blink.

    Leave it to the Brits....

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