Willow-Xander and Hermione-Ron: Two Strikingly Similar Friendships…
The friendship between Willow and Xander is one of the most endearing and well-developed of all the characters on BTVS. From Xander’s lovable goofiness, to Willow’s super-smart sweetness, the two make for an entertaining, and sometimes tear-jerking pair (Yellow Crayon Speech anyone?!).
It’s a credit to Joss Whedon that he found ways to develop such a significant friendship, and in recent years another extremely popular series has striking similarities in the friendship pairing of two main characters. Which series? None other than Harry Potter, and the friendship which develops between Ron and Hermione.
Not convinced? Well below are just some of the reasons why Hermione and Ron are basically younger (to begin with) Willow and Xander….
Hermione and Willow
The ‘nerd’ is strong with this pair…
Both Willow and Hermione are bookworms who love to learn. Their enjoyment in delving deeply into research and magic are key defining traits. In early events in both BTVS and Harry Potter they use their book-learnin’ skills to help solve problems and defeat enemies.
The will they / won’t they? Romance question...
Willow has a crush in Xander from early on in BTVS. It’s largely unrequited for some time, as Willow tries to control her sadness at Xander choosing bitchy cheerleader Cordelia to date. Willow finds new love with Oz, but her attraction to Xander is still strong enough for them to embark on a short-lived secret kiss-affair, which had viewers wondering if they might in time become a ‘proper’ couple.
Hermione has her own romantic frustration when Ron doesn’t ask her to go the Yule Ball with him in time. She reacts by finding someone else to go with. Eventually she and Ron get together, but the ‘will they, won’t they?’ romance question lingers for some time.
Biting off a little more than they can chew…
Both Willow and Hermione quickly build their confidence and knowledge with magic. Both also try spells which they can’t quite handle, leading to disastrous results. Hermione confidently produces a polyjuice potion in ‘The Chamber of Secrets,’ which she believes will give her the form of another girl, however it turns her partially into a cat.
Willow has a fair few mishaps with her spells, particularly in Season 6 as she becomes more and more reckless with her spellcasting. In Tabula Rasa, a spell of hers accidentally wipes the memories of all in the magic shop, leading to hilarious and then heart-rending consequences for several of the main characters.
Xander and Ron
The ‘confidence conundrum’…
Both Xander and Ron suffer from feeling inadequate and like they can’t live up to either the expectations of parents or the abilities of those around them. As a middle child in a sea of talented Weasley Witches and Wizards, Ron suffers from a lack of confidence and fears of not living up to his older brother’s reputations at Hogwarts.
Xander always finds himself getting into scrapes with girls, and struggles to express how he feels to Buffy in earlier seasons, despite having a massive crush on her. He joins the swim team to try and fit into a more athletic persona, as does Ron when he joins the Quidditch Team.
Relationship scrapes and stumbles…
Cordelia and Xander make an unlikely pair, especially given their intense hostility to each other for the first couple of seasons of BTVS. Ron and Lavender are equally as mismatched. What’s interesting on both situations is that both girls become jealous of the female ‘bestie’ in their boyfriend’s life. Cordelia puts Willow down and Lavender is obviously jealous of Hermione. In both cases the boys fail to see what’s right in front of their eyes – their best female friend is also a potential girlfriend.
Being extraordinarily ordinary…
For both Ron and Xander a key part of their character’s developments are they are the only ones who are ‘just’ ordinary. Other than scrapes with magic or demons, neither character has a special ability. While both Hermione and Willow are incredibly smart and talented witches, Xander and Ron as ‘good’ but not outstanding in most of what they do. Both characters struggle with the concept of being the perpetual sidekick. However, they both are also amazing and loyal friends and have their own moments to shine, proving that you don’t have to be outstandingly talented to do outstanding things.
Towards the end of season 7 on BTVS Xander makes a startling and beautiful speech. Dawn is devastated when she learns she is not a potential slayer. Xander tells her - “They’ll never know how tough it is, Dawnie. To be the one who isn’t chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it.” He reassures her that she is extraordinary, showing the grace and learning he has come by after coming to terms with his own abilities.
Ron is also deeply loyal and this makes him pivotal to the series. He helps Harry time and time again, showing incredible bravery and care. He achieves great things, not with any special gift, but with his desire to protect his friends. Xander and Ron the proof that those without exceptional talent can still be amazing by what they accomplish.
Additional writing credit to Kyrie Gray.