|Buffy the Vampire Slayer|
|Season 4, Episode 5|
|Air date||November 2, 1999|
|Written by||Tracey Forbes|
|Directed by||David Solomon|
"I Fall to Pieces"
"Wild at Heart"
"Rm w/a Vu"
|Sarah Michelle Gellar||Buffy|
|Anthony Stewart Head|| Giles |
|Stephen M. Porter||Jack|
|Lindsay Crouse|| Maggie Walsh |
|Patrick Belton||College Kid #1|
|Kaycee Shank||College Kid #2|
|Steven Jang||College Kid #3|
|Kate Luhr|| Young Woman |
|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.
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.
In the real world, Xander uses a fake ID gets a job as a bartender at the on-campus pub. 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. Fed up, Buffy is getting ready 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.
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. She seems to be dumbing down more and more just sitting watching a Luscious Jackson video. That evening when Buffy drinks herself further and further into idiocy we get a glimpse why: Jack has a chemical lab set up and is putting more into the beer than just malt.
Xander finally sends Buffy home, but her four drinking buddies decide to stay for a while longer. 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 in the world. Xander finds out that the owner of the pub has been brewing something as revenge for twenty years of college kids taunting him. While the boys escape to the streets of Sunnydale, Xander gets Giles to help. They find Buffy 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.
- 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".
- Parker Abrams
- Riley Finn
- Rupert Giles
- Xander Harris
- Jack's brother-in-law (Only mentioned)
- Melody (Only mentioned)
- Daniel Osbourne
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Maggie Walsh
Organizations and Titles
- The Bronze
- Rupert Giles's apartment
- Sunnydale Cemetery (Only in visions)
- University of California, Sunnydale
Weapons and Objects
- Three vampires, dusted by Buffy Summers (only in visions).
Behind the Scenes
- 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."
- 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."
- 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."
Pop Culture References
- 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.
- Ash - "I'm Gonna Fall"
- Collapsis - "Wonderland"
- Gale Music - "Some People Say"
- Kim Ferron - "Nothing But You" (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Album)
- Lauren Christy - "Perfect Again"
- Luscious Jackson - "Ladyfingers" (Buffy watches the video on television)
- Paul Trudeau - "I Can't Wait"
- Paul Trudeau - "It Feels Like I'm Dyin' Inside"
- Paul Trudeau - "People will Talk"
- Smile - "The Best Years"
- THC - "Overfire" (played by Shy at The Bronze)
- Christophe Beck - original score
- 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
- When Xander is showing Buffy and Willow his fake ID card, the position of his fingers change in the zoom-in of the card.
- This episode earned a Primetime Emmy Awards nomination for "Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series" in 2000.
- 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.
|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."|