The Philosophy of Joss Whedon

The Philosophy of Joss Whedon

The Philosophy of Joss Whedon

The Philosophy of Joss Whedon


Every generation produces a counterculture icon. Joss Whedon, creator of the long-running television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is famed for his subversive wit, rich characters, and extraordinary plotlines. His renown has only grown with subsequent creations, including Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and the innovative online series Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Through premises as unusual as a supernatural detective agency run by a vampire and a Western set in outer space, Whedon weaves stories about characters forced to make commonplace moral decisions under the most bizarre of circumstances.

The Philosophy of Joss Whedon examines Whedon's plots and characterizations to reveal their philosophical takes on the limits of personal freedom, sexual morality, radical evil, and Daoism.


Tim Minear

Recently an interviewer asked me if I was aware I was being “studied in universities.” One imagines oneself in a petri dish. She was, of course, referring to work in which I had been involved over the years. Specifically, what is known as “The Whedonverse”—the universe comprising the creations of Joss Whedon.

The matter and energy that make up this ’verse include movies, comic books, television series, and now web series. in the case of Firefly, literally a ’verse within the ’verse. in the case of the Buffy musical and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, music. Songs. Three-minute dramatic units crammed with character information that help tell the larger story. Verse and chorus within the ’verse.

For my part, of the four network television series that constitute a particular constellation of the Whedonverse, I was intimately involved with three of them: Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse.

Here’s the thing you need to know about making a television series—it’s chaos. Beyond the puzzle of simply trying to make one story track, you’re trying to make twenty-two stories track. Track with themselves and with each other. Twenty-two hours of story. Roughly the equivalent of ten feature films.

Obviously for an endeavor this complex, one must never begin before mapping out with absolute precision every detail.

Except, that’s never how it works. You fill in the map afterward. At best, you’re starting with some landmarks and orange cones to guide the way. You think you’re going to find a route to the West Indies and end up somewhere in Santa Monica. Or Pylea, for that matter.

The “process” looks something like this: While you’re figuring out the story that’s inevitably late, you’re rewriting the one that’s shooting; while you’re rewriting the one that’s shooting—and prepping the one you still . . .

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