Not much really to say about this episode, except that Joss Whedon really wanted to drive home the point that, in addition to the myriad pressures that being in high school brings, there’s also the pressure that parents, sometimes unknowingly, place upon their children as well.
When Buffy doesn’t make the cheerleading squad, Joyce tries to encourage by suggesting she join the yearbook club.
(Joyce) “Look what I found. It’s my yearbook from junior year. Oh, look. There I am.”
(Buffy) “Mom, I ‘ve accepted that you’ve had sex. I’m not ready to know that you had Farrah hair.”
(Joyce) “That was Gidget hair, don’t they teach you anything in history?”
(Buffy) “Well, it’s really cool, but I gotta book.”
(Joyce) “Well, I was thinking. I know the cheerleading thing didn’t work out. Maybe you should think about joining the yearbook staff. I did it. It was a lot of fun.”
(Buffy) “Not really my tip, Mom.”
(Joyce) “I was photo editor. I got to be on every page. Made me look much more popular than I was.”
(Buffy) “Have you seen the kids who do yearbook? Nerds pick on them.”
(Joyce) “Some of the best times I had in school were working on the yearbook?”
(Buffy) “This just in, I’m not you. I’m into my own thing.”
(Joyce) “Your own thing, whatever it is, got you kicked out of school and we had to move here to find a decent school that would take you. (to herself) Ugh. Great parenting form. Little shaky on the dismount.”
Not great, I’ll grant you, but much less frightening than Amy’s mom Catherine, who is the actual, titular witch. She switched bodies with her daughter to relive her glory days as a cheerleader. At the end, Buffy uses a mirror to make the Catherine’s spell return on her and she ends up in her own cheerleading statue in a display case at the school.
When Amy finally gets her body back, she realizes she has no desire to be a cheerleader. However, the witch gene is obviously passed on…Be careful what you witch for…
Add to that Giles’ cautionary words about not allowing her personal life to distract her from her duties and we see the seeds of a series long arc where Buffy tries to have a normal life while saving the world…a lot.
(Giles) “This is madness. What can you have been thinking? You are the slayer; lives depend upon you. I make allowances for your youth, but I expect a certain amount of responsibility instead of which you enslave yourself to this—this…cult?”
(Buffy) “You don’t like the color?”
(Giles) “I don’t—do you, um, ignore everything I say as a rule?”
(Buffy) “No, I believe that’s your trick. I told you I’m trying out for the cheerleading squad.”
(Giles) “You have a sacred birthright Buffy. You were chosen to destroy vampires, not wave pom-poms at people. And as your watcher, I forbid it.”
(Buffy) “And you’ll be stopping me how?”
(Giles) “Well I…by appealing to your common sense, if such a creature exists.”
(Buffy) “I will still have time to fight the forces of evil, ok? I just want to have a life; do something normal, something safe.”
This, as we will see, will be a life-long struggle for her.