Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 4, Episode 5
Buffy Summers beer bad 2.jpg
Air date November 2, 1999
Written by Tracey Forbes
Directed by David Solomon
Episode Guide
"Fear, Itself"
"I Fall to Pieces"
"Wild at Heart"
"Rm w/a Vu"
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Seth Green Oz
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Marc Blucas Riley
Adam Kaufman Parker
Paige Moss Veruca
Eric Matheny Colm
Stephen M. Porter Jack
Lindsay Crouse Maggie Walsh
Co Starring
Kal Penn Hunt
Jake Phillips Kip
Bryan Cupprill Roy
Lisa Johnson Paula
Joshua Wheeler Driver
Patrick Belton College Kid #1
Kaycee Shank College Kid #2
Steven Jang College Kid #3
Cameron Bender Stoner
Kate Luhr Young Woman
Michael Beardsley Student
Heath Castor Student
George Sarah Keyboard Player

"Beer Bad" is the fifth episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show, and is the sixty-first episode in the series. It was written by Tracey Forbes and directed by David Solomon. It was originally broadcast on November 2, 1999.

Xander gets a job as a bartender at the college pub. Buffy is still upset about the incident with Parker. To drown her sorrows, she drinks beer with some upperclassmen. Things get out of hand when the four intelligent, handsome college men that she drinks with turn into extremely hairy and dumb cavemen/Neanderthals.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Buffy is still hurting because Parker Abrams dumped her after a one night stand. In a daydream during one of Professor Walsh's classes (about the role of the id in Freudian psychology) she saves Parker's life and he swears to do anything to get her back. A dialogue with Willow later shows how much Buffy is not over him yet.

Before the transformation

In the real world, Xander uses a fake ID gets a job as a bartender at the on-campus pub. While Buffy and Willow are sitting at a table on campus he practices holding out a lighter to light a phantom cigarette and asking them about their day. Buffy tells him to stop flicking at her, while Willow makes up an outrageous story to pretend for Xander, of which he looks at her strangely. Buffy tells him that bartending is more than just lighting cigarette and talking to girls. He also has to actually mix drinks. Xander says he's fine since he's seen the movie Cocktail. He asks the girls if they're going to stop by that night. Buffy says she might but Willow says she has a date with Oz at The Bronze.

Buffy stops by the pub and sees Parker entertaining a girl at one of the booths. She bumps into Riley, who gives her the lowdown on Parker's womanizing habits. Buffy pulls up a stool at the bar, where Xander is having some difficulty getting into the groove of the job. Buffy tells him what she's learned about Parker. When Parker walks by, Buffy get's fed up and turns to leave when she is stopped by several college boys who insist that she join them in enjoying some beer. Meanwhile, Oz and Willow are in The Bronze together, but he seems to have a connection to the singer Veruca when she gets on the stage with her band Shy. Willow asks Oz if he knows Veruca and he tells he only because they run in the same circles due to their bands. Willow is really worried since Oz seems way too focused on Veruca to the point that he doesn't even pay attention to her or hear her talking to him or asking him questions.

After the transformation

The next morning, Willow doesn't just have to cope with Veruca having called her a "groupie" when Oz introduced them and the feeling that Oz is mentally absent, but also with Buffy — who seems to be suffering from "Black Frost" in more than the usual way. Buffy is sitting watching a video on tv and she talks about how pretty the colors are. Willow asks her how she's doing and Buffy says she had a night of badness. Willow, at first, assumes that she slept with Parker again. Buffy tells her it was four guys and Willow is shocked. When Buffy starts to explain Willow finally understand that Buffy just meant that she was drinking beer with four guys, not that she slept with all of them. The beer was foamy and comforting. Willow, saying that Buffy shouldn't be drowning her sorrows in alcohol, says Parker deserves to be killed by spider bites. She says that for that day they'll just have to be content with throwing spitballs at his neck. Buffy agrees and gets up and starts to leave but Willow stops her and tells her she needs to get dressed first. Buffy, showing severe confusion, looks down and realizes she's still in her pajamas but still seems unconcerned, agrees to get dressed anyway.

During her psych class, Professor Walsh talks about what they're going to go over in their next class. She talks about the reading assignment for the next class and starts to explain why it'll matter but Buffy interrupts by raising her hand. When Professor Walsh calls on her she blurts out that Willow has already done the reading. Willow and the rest of the class looks at Buffy strangely, wondering why she's acting so ditzy. Professor Walsh just says that, because of that fact, Willow will have some time on her hands. Buffy sees a girl in front of her eating a sandwich and, without any warning, reaches out and grabs it from the girl and starts eating it. Shocked, Willow asks her if she's okay and Buffy says she is and asks why she wouldn't be. Buffy then just continues eating the girls sandwich as if she didn't do anything wrong.

A chemical lab is shown with someone wearing a glove turns on a drip from the tubes. The liquid mixture is then shown being dripped into a keg of Black Frost beer. That evening Buffy is again drinking with the same guys as the previous night. She's acting more and more idiotic as she drinks, talking about how wonderful beer is because it's foamy. The guys are just as bad as she is, all of them behaving stupidly, talking almost monosyllabic, and acting idiotic. During this time a pretty girl is at the bar under the circumstances Xander's been practicing for but he isn't paying attention because he's too busy watching Buffy worriedly. She starts to talk about how bad her day's been but he doesn't pay any attention to her. When she asks for a light, Xander holds up a no smoking sign.

Oz stops by to see Willow and asks why he hasn't been able to get ahold of her. She says she's been busy. He tells her that Shy is playing at the Bronze again and asks if she wants to go. She makes up an excuse and walks away, leaving a confused Oz behind.

Xander finally sends Buffy home because of her stupidity is extremely flagrant. Buffy says she wants more beer and Xander tells her she's cut off. She tries to tell him that "beer good" but Xander, not realizing what he's saying tells her "beer bad" and pushes her out the door, telling her to go home. Her four drinking buddies realize she's gone and ask "where girl?" but stay to continue drinking. Colm leaves to go to the bathroom and soon emerges as a violent Neanderthal. The Neanderthal rushes at Xander and knocks him out. Xander wakes up to the Neanderthal leaning over him and the other three students cowering on the other side of the room. The Neanderthal emits a primal yell and the other three are overcome with violent convulsions. Backs hunch over, brows thicken, arms grow longer and more muscular, voices deepen, hair on their head and facial hair becomes long, dirty, and wild, and they gain hairy chests, backs, arms, legs. The four Neanderthals surround Xander, who chases them away with his lighter. The four Neanderthals are now loose on the streets of Sunnydale.

Xander runs to find Jack, the owner of the pub, only to be told that he deliberately changed the beer, brewing something as revenge for twenty years of college kids taunting him. Jack tells Xander that his brother in law is a warlock and showed him how to do it. Xander, upset that he served the beer to Buffy, asks how much it'll take to turn someone and Jack says it doesn't matter because it'll wear off in a day or so. He starts to leave only to turn around and admonish Jack. Xander gets Giles to help. Giles is upset at Xander for serving Buffy, and tells Xander that hopefully Buffy will be okay. However, when they find Buffy she's drawing cave paintings on her dorm wall saying "Parker bad!" Giles and Xander are unable to keep Buffy in her room when she gets a craving for more beer.

Meanwhile, Willow confronts Parker with what she says he has done to Buffy. He turns his charm on her, and she seems to be swayed by it, but then she reveals she has been playing along with a rant about how primitive men are — just when the four Neanderthal students burst into the room. They knock Willow and Parker unconscious and start a fire that rapidly burns out of control. Xander catches up with Buffy and when they see smoke from the Neanderthals' fire, they rush to help.

Though afraid of the flames and unable to figure out how to use an extinguisher anymore, Buffy saves Willow and — after hitting him — Parker. In the end, Parker thanks Buffy for saving his life, and apologizes just the way she had daydreamed it — just to get knocked unconscious by Buffy's club, much to the approval of the rest of the gang.

Continuity[edit | edit source]

  • Buffy's statement "Fire bad!" referred back to a previous statement made to Giles when she said "Fire bad. Tree Pretty." in "Graduation Day, Part Two". This eventually echoes when she says "fire pretty" in "Flooded".

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Individuals[edit | edit source]

Organizations and Titles[edit | edit source]

Species[edit | edit source]

Locations[edit | edit source]

Weapons and Objects[edit | edit source]

Death Count[edit | edit source]

Behind the Scenes[edit | edit source]


Buffy 4x05 Beer Bad Promo

Production[edit | edit source]

  • This plot was written with the plan to take advantage of funds from the Office of National Drug Control Policy available to shows that promoted an anti-drug message. Funding was rejected for the episode because "drugs were an issue, but ... [it] was otherworldly nonsense, very abstract and not like real-life kids taking drugs. Viewers wouldn't make the link to [the ONDCP's] message."[1]
  • Producer Doug Petrie says despite the intensely negative reaction of the fans to seeing Buffy being "battered about by the forces of college" and being treated so callously by Parker, they had to "ride that out" until this episode because "we didn't want her to find her strength immediately in this new setting."[2]
  • The most striking feature of "Beer Bad" is the twin moral: Beer and casual sex are bad for you. In a BBC interview, Petrie states: "Well, very young people get unlimited access to alcohol and become horrible! We all do it — or most of us do it — and live to regret it, and we wanted to explore that."[2]

Pop Culture References[edit | edit source]

  • Xander thought he had enough bartender knowledge because he knew how to perform the hippy-hippy shake from Cocktail.
  • Xander asks Jack "How much beer would you say a person would need to consume before they seriously started questing for fire?" This may be a reference to the story of The Quest for Fire, either the novel by J.-H. Rosny or its film adaptation starring Ron Perlman, which was about cavemen.

Music[edit | edit source]

International titles[edit | edit source]

  • French: Breuvage du diable (Devil's beverage)
  • German: Das Bier der bösen Denkungsart (The Beer of Evil Thinking)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): Cerveja Má (Bad Beer)
  • Spanish (Latin America): Cerveza Mala (Bad Beer)
  • Spanish (Spain): Mala cerveza (Bad Beer)

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors[edit | edit source]

  • When Xander is showing Buffy and Willow his fake ID card, the position of his fingers change in the zoom-in of the card.

Other[edit | edit source]

  • This episode earned a Primetime Emmy Awards nomination for "Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series" in 2000.[3]
  • Kal Penn, who plays Buffy's drinking buddy, Hunt, in this episode, also appears in "That Vision Thing" as the fez-adorned mystic Lilah Morgan hires to attack Cordelia Chase. He is best known for his role as Kumar in the Harold & Kumar movies and co-stars as a recurring character with Buffy alumnus Alyson Hannigan in How I Met Your Mother.
  • This episode is considered by some fans to be the worst Buffy episode. A BBC reviewer complained about its "American puritanism" and Slayage criticized writer Tracey Forbes for delivering a trite and obvious message in a series containing "such an abundant feminist subtext". However, Todd Hertz of Christianity Today used this episode of an example of the show's honest portrayal of consequences.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

Jack: "I have been taking abuse from snot-nosed kids for twenty years. Come in here with their snotty attitudes, drinking their fruity microbrews and spouting on about philosophy like it means a damn thing. Think they’re different than us."
Xander: "And was there a lesson in all this, huh? What did we learn about beer?"
Buffy: "Foamy!"
Xander: "Good. Just as long as that's clear."
Willow: "Buffy, that is my best friend, you need to think about not-Parker. He's no good. There are men, better men, wherein the mind is stronger than the penis."
Xander: "Pfff--Nothing can defeat the penis! ... Too loud, very unseemly."
Oz: "Hey, you got a table."
Willow: "I had to kill a man."
Oz: "Well, it's a really good table."
Buffy: "I went to see Xander. Then I saw Parker. Then came... beer."
Willow: "Then group sex?"
Buffy: "Pfft. Gutter-face, no! Just lots and lots of beer."
Buffy: "Want beer. Like beer. Beer good."
Xander: "Beer bad. Bad, bad beer. What the hell am I saying?!"
Giles: "You can't have beer."
Buffy: "Want beer."
Xander: "Giles don't make caveslayer unhappy."
  1. "Prime-time propaganda". Salon.com, January 2000.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Doug Petrie, Buffy producer's inside guide to season four - Beer Bad". BBC - Cult - Buffy.
  3. "Nominees/Winners"Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
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