Witchcraft as Sin
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Throughout the series, the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has used witchcraft (and all that it entails) to convey a number of ideas that range from the life-consuming force that is drug addiction to something a little more nuanced like human sexuality. Magic has never had a constant symbolic presence on Buffy. Rather, magic functions like a doorway that allows for the exploration of ideas and various narrative possibilities.
In season five's Tara-centered episode, "Family," the use of magic and its function in the narrative is as clear as daylight. Considering the context of the story, which is about the nature of family ties, both by blood and choice, the ideas presented in "Family" are somewhat broad and complicated. In "Family," Tara's disapproving family visits her out of the blue. Through their interactions, it's evident that Tara is the product of a difficult upbringing. Taking note of her timid behavior, Tara clearly suffers from the psychological abuse she endured in her youth.
Tara's interaction with her father is heartbreaking. He uses language that's all too familiar. "You wanted me to see all these toys," he tells her, "You don't even try to hide it anymore." This is where Buffy becomes sneaky in its intent. He's clearly referring to her homosexuality. Within the framework of the episode, witchcraft is essentially a euphemism for her perceived sinful behavior.
At face value, "Family" can be seen as an exploration of what constitutes family, but embedded within the overall idea of the episode lies a complex discussion about the nature of family. From Mr. Maclay's point of view, he means well, but it's obvious he's doing way more harm than good. "It doesn't feel evil..." Tara tells her father. To which he replies, "Evil never does." Now, this is my opinion, but to be told from the people that are supposed to protect you how evil you are doesn't seem like much of a family in my book. I think anyone that's felt disenfranchised by their family, for whatever reason, should resonate with the ideas explored in this episode. It's very thought-provoking.