Buffy 4×05: Beer Bad

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Tracey Forbes | Director: David Solomon | Aired: 11/02/1999]

Ah yes, the episode many people consider to be the worst in BtVS. What’s my take on it? Well, it isn’t all that great, but the first half has a lot of really good material in it. The main plot isn’t terrible in theory, but in execution we have a completely different tale. I’ll just outright say that the big problem is that there is far too many extended sequences involving the cavemen running around and grunting. But, since I can’t stand beer myself I am pretty amused of the idea that excessive beer turns people into cave men/women, which honestly isn’t far from the truth anyway. This is without a doubt not even close to the worst episode of the series though.

All of the character interaction is handled perfectly. Right in the beginning Buffy is day dreaming about saving Parker from vampires at which point he apologizes to her and says he sees how wrong he was. She’s interrupted by seeing him chatting up another girl and Professor Walsh talking about the “pleasure principal.” Buffy then, very amusingly, has another dream where Parker gives her the same speech and then gives her flowers and some kind of ice cream too. I really like how the writers aren’t glossing over her sexual encounter with Parker, because it’s actually really important to address further. This is a big deal in Buffy’s life — an experience she’s learning from. She finds out from Riley that Parker “sets ’em up and knock’s ’em down.” This is the point when Buffy stops trying to make excuses for Parker and looks to herself for blame. She tells Xander “I’m a slut … idiot.” These are natural thoughts after an experience like this and it’s meaningful to see Buffy thinking about it. Xander offers a little sympathy but can’t help much.

It’s at this point when Buffy begins drowning her sorrows with beer. This is understandable even though it’s not fun seeing her do that to herself. Cave Buffy begins to now emerge and there’s a few interesting things that happen after this point. The first is more just being entertained than interested: Cave Buffy spinning around in a chair. I can’t pinpoint why I love this so much but I do. Xander walks in on her and then she starts coming onto him on a primal level. Is it just the fact that Xander’s male to why she’s all over him, or does it possibly have something to do with a buried attraction for Xander himself? Maybe I’m stretching, but I think this gives some possibility to a Buffy/Xander relationship post-S7.

It’s worth noting that even as a cavewoman Buffy still has instinct to help others in a time of crisis. Even though she can be selfish at times (aren’t we all though?), the core of her being is selfless and will always be that way — it’s who she is. This point is brought across blindingly clear when she even saves Parker from death (although she, quite hilariously, knocks him out first). After everyone is outside and safe Parker begins to actually apologize, although I honestly believe that it’s only because she just saved his life and that he really isn’t sorry at all. Thankfully, Cave Buffy can see right through it and knocks him out again. Can I just say…YAY! (Look! An un-academic outburst! What can I say, academia can suck the fun out of things sometimes ;))

Problems are beginning in the Willow/Oz relationship. Willow is noticing that Oz has become awestruck by this new band’s singer, Veruca. It’s the same girl who Oz passed by and ‘sensed’ back in “Living Conditions” [4×02] . We can see Willow trying to pry Oz away from being all mesmorized by Veruca, but her charms aren’t working. This issue is directly addressed in “Wild at Heart” [4×06] . Willow, a bit concerned about Oz, goes out for a break and sees Parker sitting down for a coffee. This is certainly my favorite scene of the episode. Parker goes on about how people should be able to engage in casual sex without expecting committment. I agree with him, but only if both partners are in 100% agreement about that. The problem is that Parker misleads people into thinking he does want a lasting relationship just to break down their barriers so they’ll have sex with him; it’s disgusting. Anyway, Willow acts like she’s buying his act and then nails him where it hurts by saying “how gullible do you think I am?” That in combination with Buffy clubbing him over head with a stick is enough to allow Buffy, and myself, to move on. Lets not forget we also get to see Riley punch him for what he did to Buffy in “The Initiative” [4×07] .

That pretty much wraps up all there is to say about this one. The cursed boys that run around grunting for large portions of the episode certainly don’t spark my interest and rub off as really stupid, but I think that’s the point. I think it could have been made without being boring to watch though. All the great character development going on with Buffy, Willow, Oz, and a little bit of Xander really help give this episode substance which prevents it from completely sucking and is why it avoids sinking into useless territory. I’d take something like this over “I Robot, You Jane” [1×08] or “Bad Eggs” [2×12] anyday.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Xander annoying Buffy with his “Rough day? You wanna talk about it?” questions being repeated over and over again.
+ Willow’s casual inclusion of Faith in a sentence to insult Veruca (“Buff, have you heard of this Veruca chick? Dresses like Faith, voice like an albatross?”). This is subtle continuity that feels completely natural — I love it!
+ Buffy just grabbing the girl’s sandwich in class. What’s the girl going to do?




76 thoughts on “Buffy 4×05: Beer Bad”

  1. [Note: Fallen posted this comment on February 14, 2006.]

    I found Beer Bad to be just a hilarious episode. And even though there were parts of it that would bring the overall score down, just because there’s not any real plot advancement shouldn’t single it out for a bad score.

    Beer Bad always was one of those episodes that you don’t really remember a lot about, but when you get to it in the rotation (I can’t watch Buffy out of order, it’s like nails on a chalkboard) you’re really happy with afterwords.

    A few points just out of my memory that you didn’t touch on but that should have been mentioned in the pros/cons:

    Buffy: You know maybe, maybe he’s just having trouble dealing. I mean, don’t guys sometimes put the girl they really, really like inside these little brain fantasy bubbles where everything’s perfect? They do that right?

    Xander asking if the guy wants his ice water on the rocks.

    You mentioned the scene but you didn’t mention specifically that we get to see a little more of Riley’s character. It’s something you gloss over because we all know that Riley is the paragon of chivalry but before 4.7 we only know that because of tiny little scenes like that one. Put em all together and we figure out that Riley is a good guy before Buffy gets together with him.

    Xander gets just reamed by the guy who comes up and interrupts his conversation (and then he tries to card him and has to just serve the beer, which when you look back on it has a whole new dynamic that you might miss the first time around: The bartender sees the guy being a huge jerk to Xander and forces Xander to serve him the beer anyway, but the beer is actually poisoned the bartender is helping Xander out rather than snubbing him)

    Xander: Beer Bad. Bad, bad beer. What the hell am I saying? Buffy, go home and go to bed.


    Xander taking advantage of the drunk guys that harassed him.

    Don’t make cave-slayer unhappy.

    This will give them some time to ponder the geo-political ramifications of BEING MEAN TO ME!

    All in all I found it to be a pretty good one-off and I usually laugh the whole way through (already past it in the rotation this time around, so 9 times now).


  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 14, 2006.]

    I have to admit, when I saw this thread I thought to myself, “oh my word, here comes the flames from people who thought I liked Beer Bad too much.” Much to my pleasant surprise, I find out you’re defending it even more than I.

    Great points Fallen. Especially about about the bartender. I don’t know how I missed that. To be fair, though, this is only the third time I’ve ever seen this ep since I usually skip it when I’m showing other people (I’ve got to learn to stop doing that!) the series.

    As for Buffy on Parker, I do address it but not what you specifically pointed out:

    She finds out from Riley that Parker “sets ’em up and knock’s ’em down.” This is the point when Buffy stops trying to make excuses for Parker and looks to herself for blame.

    The quote you pointed out is an example of what I meant when I said “stops trying to make excuses for Parker.”

    I think my score of this episode is quite fair considering a large portion of the last half of it consists of cavemen running around acting like morons. I get the point, but I didn’t need to see it for that long. Most of the episode’s merit comes from the first half, and when that happens I can’t really give it a very high score. But the episode does have a lot of great stuff in it and doesn’t deserve the absolute thrashing it gets from the ‘Buffy’ community at large.


  3. [Note: Grounded posted this comment on February 15, 2006.]

    “Xander walks in on her and then she starts coming onto him on a primal level. Is it just the fact that Xander’s male to why she’s all over him, or does it possibly have something to do with a buried attraction for Xander himself? Maybe I’m stretching, but I think this gives some possibility to a Buffy/Xander relationship post-S7.”

    Hehe, it’s a strech, but I’ll take it .

    I think the reason a lot of people claim Beer Bad to be the worst episode is because it’s probably got the most anvilicious story idea the series ever presents: drinking beer turns you into a caveman. It’s not so much metaphorical as it is…well…literal.

    Having said that, it’s pretty much inoffensive fluff that neither develops nor hinders the series at this point. Not in my top 10 worst eps either (there’s a thread idea right there ), although I suppose I should go watch it again now you’ve brought it up…


  4. [Note: AaronJer posted this comment on February 17, 2006.]

    Your mom spins in a chair!

    Zing! (score one for Aaronjer!)

    I thought the episode was overwhelmingly funny enough to make up for how overwhelmingly stupid it was. There was a lot of whelming in the episode.

    The whole “Say bye!” thing totally did it for me.


  5. [Note: 20questionsgenius posted this comment on February 17, 2006.]

    Aaronjer, I was totally gonna say that one of my favorite parts of this episode was when Buffy says “Say bye”, she was just so cute, I love when Buffy says cute things, she does cute well. As a matter of fact, I thought Buffy as a cavewoman was adorable throughout the whole episode. And I think this is the season where I like Xander the most. One of my favorite lines from him in this episode is, “This will give them some time to ponder the geo-political ramifications of BEING MEAN TO ME!” He’s adorable and funny this season, most of the time, excluding S1 and a little of S2, I severely dislike Xander, but I suppose this is neither the time nor place for that so I’ll stop that right there. Anyway I agree with the score for this episode, certainly not deserving of a B or higher but not as bad as a 50 or below.


  6. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 14, 2007.]

    I’ve never understood the hatred I’ve seen (elsewhere) for this episode. It almost seems like people saw the title and said, “Hey, you can make fun of high school and college and the military and the government and religion and sports and cheerleaders, but you better watch what you say about BEER!”

    It’s a comic episode. Most of those tend to be light and not too tightly logical. And this one had a tricky mission. We wanted very much to see Buffy knock Parker on his ass for the way he used her. But under ordinary circumstances, it would have been pathetic – she is The Slayer, after all. But it was okay for Cave Buffy who couldn’t control her impulses. Even better to see him repeat the very speech from her fantasy earlier in the episode (with a few important differences) and have her ass him again.

    It’s not a great episode. Some of the best comic episodes have had more substance and/or more to say. But it’s better than anything in Season One or most of Season Seven.


  7. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 14, 2007.]

    LibMax, although I agree S1 is overall very mediocre, I certainly don’t think that “Beer Bad” is better than every episode in it. S1 has a few pretty good episodes.

    I also think S7 is underrated by fans. Yes, it’s got some very notable problems and was the first time we start to see the writers getting a bit lazy. It’s certainly not one of the best seasons of the show. But, there’s still plenty of brilliance there. I look forward to making a case for it when my reviews get there. 🙂


  8. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 23, 2007.]

    MikeJer, I respect your reviews and your insights generally, but I have to disagree with you here. I think some of the episodes in Season One look good compared to the rest of Season One. I agree that even Season One Buffy is better than 99% of non-Buffy television, but starting with School Hard the series jump up a big notch and never looked back, in my opinion.

    According to your scores, Destiny Girl is the best ep in Season One, and I totally agree. But let’s face it – the plot of Destiny Girl, though much better than Beer Bad, is built into the series premise and therefore handed to Joss on a silver platter. Regarding dialog and acting, compare Willow’s scene with Buffy after the breakroom murders (“It wasn’t our world anymore”) to her scene with Parker (“How gullible do you think I am?”). Compare Buffy’s “Giles, I’m sixteen years old, I don’t wanna die” scene (best thing in the episode, don’t you think?) with either of CaveBuffy’s scenes with Xander (in the bar or in the dorm room with Xander and Giles). Compare any Xander scene in Prophecy Girl with any Xander scene in Beer Bad. Only Giles seems to me to have better lines and better delivery (or at least as good) in Prophecy Girl. And I think the directing, score, and visuals generally are better in Beer Bad.

    I know it’s hard to compare a comic episode with a very, very serious one. And I hope you have all the seasons on DVD like I do, or I’ve just been completely wasting your time! And, as I always try to remember to say, YMMV.


  9. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 23, 2007.]

    Oh, and don’t get me started on Season Seven. It had three really good episodes (Selfless, Conversations With Dead People, and Chosen) and occasional flashes of the quality and brilliance of seasons two through six, but it was extremely repetitious, Caleb and The Scythe were really dumb, the “Turok Han” and the Seal of Danzithar were miles beyond dumb, and I couldn’t stop choking on the monstrous lie that Spike had gone to Africa intending to get his soul back. Also, S7 inexplicably took S1 as its model, at least for the early episodes, so we were back in brain-dead horror-high monster-of-the-week hell before Conversations With Dead People (with the break for Selfless). Him and Beneath You and Lessons (except for the last scene) were particularly awful in my opinion, much worse than anything else between School Hard and Grave. And no, I’m not forgetting Killed By Death or Where the Wild Things Are, either.


  10. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 23, 2007.]

    Oh, blazes, and it’s “Prophecy Girl,” not “Destiny Girl.” Sorry. I can’t see any way to edit old posts on this site, so please just pretend I didn’t completely make a fool of myself.


  11. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 23, 2007.]

    See, that’s entirely the reason why I don’t allow people to edit their comments. I intended for them to make fools of themselves. :p I do hope to add a ‘preview’ functionality… eventually.

    Since you seem extremely set in your opinion of S7, I’ll refrain from defending it a bit ’cause there doesn’t seem to be a point. I’ll just let my reviews lay out the evidence when I get there. 🙂

    I suggest you join the forums. Just click on the ‘discussion’ link at the top of the page and register. Longer comments and debates are better suited in that format, imo.


  12. [Note: Austin posted this comment on September 23, 2007.]

    I really like Beer Bad because: I don’t drink (I’m underage and believe it or not I am alergic to alcohol – I was in a lot of medicine a number of years ago and whenever I took those medicines, I would just get worse), and so I have no problem with them bashing beer. Besides, Buffy is soooo funny when she is “cave slayer” it’s great!


  13. [Note: Nix posted this comment on October 28, 2007.]

    Being allergic to alcohol sounds even worse than the hypersensitivity I’m cursed with (a tiny drink and I’m drunk, a large one and I’d probably die: I don’t go near alcohol for obvious reasons).

    But, um, the problem is that the cavemen just aren’t *interesting*. They run around. They grunt. They act much more stupidly than most animals do. They certainly don’t act like cavemen (who were pretty much as smart as you or I: it takes smarts to live in a cave with your whole family, with big cats who’d like to eat you all prowling outside, and not get eaten: if you expand `caveman’ into `protohominid’, that’s actually the only environment on Earth that we know for sure selects for intelligence, because, well, it did).

    They act like grunters, and, well, people grunting and acting stupid isn’t a form of comedy I find terribly amusing, nor is it the form of comedy Buffy does best.


  14. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 4, 2007.]

    The episode is pretty funny except the stupid guys grunting. That is not funny. Cave Slayer is very amusing and like mike, I like when she is spinning in the chair and when she grabs that girl´s sandwich. And I agree with the 65. It´s not great, but it´s certainly not bad.


  15. [Note: ThisYearsGirl posted this comment on February 29, 2008.]

    “I couldn’t stop choking on the monstrous lie that Spike had gone to Africa intending to get his soul back.”

    Everywhere I’ve read, Buffy fans are perfectly willing to calmly accept the “monstrous lie” and go with it. Fanfic is some of the worst – his redemption is there and it’s real, but let’s not kid ourselves: he was there for the chip!


  16. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on March 8, 2008.]

    “but let’s not kid ourselves: he was there for the chip!”

    And you can prove this… how?

    It was a “plot twist”, as Whedon so emphatically stated. Perhaps it wasn’t written as cunningly as one would’ve hoped, but Spike was definitely there to retrieve his soul. He himself said it, Joss said it… ergo it’s fact. Sorry.


  17. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on March 8, 2008.]

    *Waiting for the Dead Things review 🙂 *

    Gotta agree with wilpy.

    Why on earth would Spike want his chip out? He can already hurt Buffy. And he doesn’t seem to desire the ability to hurt other people anymore (notice him having to “work himself up” to the attack in Smashed). He’s spent the past 2 seasons trying to be the type of man that Buffy could love. Why would he suddenly change?

    And we’ve seen that Spike’s major motivation in life has always been the woman he loves. Every action he does is for her, whether it’s Drusilla or Buffy. Throughout the season (and last) Buffy’s repeatedly told Spike that he’s a “thing” not worthy of her. Spike knows that Angel, another vampire, WAS worthy of her because he had a soul. Spike finally decided, in a last-ditch effort after the events in Seeing Red, to get his soul.

    I think the main problem is that Joss and co tried for a mislead by keeping Spike’s intentions ambiguous and it worked a little too well. I had the same issue with No Place Like Home where Dawn is played very much too arch to mislead the audience into thinking she is evil.

    But like wilpy said, Spike said he went for his soul. Joss said he went for his soul. Spike was going for his soul. His motivation may not be as pure as “I will make myself a better man for Buffy”. I think it was more along the lines of “Hell, a soul worked for Angel. I got nothing else to lose”.


  18. [Note: Kyarorin posted this comment on March 22, 2008.]

    And besides, he wouldn’t need to go all the way to Africa to get the chip out. A soul, sure, if you wanted to get that and not have the ramifications of never being happy, then you’d probably have to hunt for it, but a chip being removed? Heck, some doctors these days will take payments for illegal surgeries, and Spike’s definitely not above doing that.


  19. [Note: Tony posted this comment on June 28, 2008.]

    I have to say this episode has to be atleast in my top 5 worst episodes, maybe top 2, lol. I hate it, I re-watched it yesterday and even though there is some comedy, it doesn’t make up for the ridiculous cheesy plot that the episode has.


  20. [Note: Tinkerbell posted this comment on July 28, 2008.]

    Personally, I love this episode. I have always thought that it was hilarious. Two of my favorite parts are when Willow is confused and thinks that Buffy engaged in group sex with four college boys and when Xander finally gets his chance to hold out his lighter and display his empathy face, he holds up a no smoking sign and disreguards the girl. Hilarious.


  21. [Note: Paula posted this comment on July 28, 2008.]

    This is a very silly episode, and all right, among all the Buffy episodes, some of course have to be the worst. No one who places Beer Bad among the bottom 5 is going to get much of an argument from me. I still say it’s not all that bad – I quite enjoyed it. Particularly Willow leading that slimeball Parker on like that and then giving him his comeuppance. Go Willow!

    (I know it’s not really Parker who gets his heart or whatever it was cut out nearly on-screen by the creepy bad guys in Hush, but that’s what I always like to think, anyway.)

    Re: Spike, of course he went to Africa for the soul.

    Re: quality of S7 in general, I do think the writers were by then clearly losing focus (not helped by there suddenly being all these Potentials as new characters). It was probably for the best to quit there, but I still like S7 quite a lot. All of the seasons have their own problems and assets, after all. I just wish Whedon had seen fit to never mind so much about the fans and just take a bloody stand regarding some things (ahem) instead of leaving them wide open.


  22. [Note: MrTrick posted this comment on October 31, 2008.]

    So, this is a cheesy episode. I won’t argue with that. It’s just that if there’s any series that has a right to be cheesy now and again, it’s Buffy. The writers know it, and I’m pretty sure the cheese is intentional. Yeah, the cavemen scenes are bordering on excessive, but Cave Buffy is great.

    There’s not really as much preaching about beer being bad in this episode as many would have you believe, either. The only thing that bothered me was Giles going “you should have known better than to serve Buffy beer”, but again, this might just be Giles, and not the writers themselves. After all, the conclusion is that beer is foamy, and I can’t really argue with that. It’s a foamy drink.


  23. [Note: Sanjuro posted this comment on November 26, 2008.]

    I never thought I’d see the day when I would stumble across such love for “Beer Bad.” I do agree that it’s meant to be a silly bit of fun, but apart from “FIRE ANGRY!” I don’t think I ever laughed. Plus, compare the allegorical arguments of, say “Innocence (sleeping with a guy can show you his bad side) or pretty much anything involving Faith to the over the top nonsense here (on par with “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” in its GET IT?!?!11? quotient). I’m starting any fights over it, but I say “Beer Bad” is the dubious winner of the Worst Episode award. And let’s have a big round of applause for our runner-up, “Teacher’s Pet” (which I am watching right now just because I insist on watching the full season).


  24. [Note: Paula posted this comment on November 26, 2008.]

    Sanjuro, then where do you place “I, Robot… You, Jane”?!

    I mean, that’s GOT to be the worst BtVS episode ever.


  25. [Note: Sanjuro posted this comment on November 30, 2008.]

    After rewatching all of Season 1, yeah, I’d have to shift the list down one and put “I, Robot…You, Jane” on top (or bottom, as the case may be). At this point I’d say the five worst are:

    1. I, Robot…You Jane
    2. Beer Bad
    3. Teacher’s Pet
    4. Where The Wild Things Are
    5. Bad Eggs

    These are the only episodes of Buffy that, after two viewings of the series, I cannot bring myself to watch again.


  26. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 28, 2009.]

    Well then, let me be boring: Beer Bad is truly dreadful. It is. It’s totally not funny, and Tracey Forbes is the worst Buffy writer that was allowed to come back for more than one episode. Something Blue and WTWTA aren’t quite as bad, but they’re close. Even worse, Forbes is one of those writers who just clearly did not watch the show before signing on, because it’s evident that she has no idea how these characters talk. (Xander: Nothing can defeat the penis! What the heck???)

    Still, this is only the 3rd worst episode of the series. Killed by Death is the worst (but it’s placed in the best season), and Normal Again is a very close second.


  27. [Note: Emily posted this comment on April 27, 2009.]

    I also just want to say that this episode is REALLY funny. Aside from the stupid cavemen, of course. Cave-Buffy is hysterical!!!


  28. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 2, 2010.]

    Jim, I refer you to MikeJer’s explanation for why we aren’t able to edit our comments.

    Totally agree with your review, MikeJer. Some good character development and some great funny moments, and a good setup for Buffy to do what we’ve all been waiting for: take a swing at Parker. The cavemen are dumb, and all the more so because, as others have said, no way cavemen were actually that stupid. (Also likely not so rampantly hetero, imo.)


  29. [Note: Lizzie posted this comment on July 9, 2010.]

    My opinion of this episode is that the plot sucks, but I love how funny it is. Seeing Buffy act so stupid is the equivalent of Halloween when she didn’t remember she was a modern slayer girl. So FUNNY!


  30. [Note: Maggie posted this comment on July 31, 2010.]

    I disagree with people about this episode. Though it barely moved the plot along at all, I think it’s a pretty good stand-alone. Not at all thought-provoking or amazing or anything, but I found it funny.


  31. [Note: Enea posted this comment on August 14, 2010.]

    I agree with Lizzie, the plot and execution pretty much sucks, but the episode is saved for me by Buffy being really cute and fun to watch. All in all I agree with the C.

    PS, MikeJer, I suspect your screencaps for this episode are.. totally wrong? I think they’re from Angel 🙂


  32. [Note: DarthMarion posted this comment on August 14, 2010.]

    Ah yes, those are the recent caps for Ats 4×05!

    I really really like Beer bad! Seriously. ^^

    There never will be enough cute Buffy. There never will be enough smashing Parker’s head with heavy objects.

    And we can find some damn good material. Cave Buffy is really interesting prior to the First slayer. The little bits about the it and the way it can express itself is interesting regarding the theme of communication and language that’s running through the season…

    Ok; I could have pass all the “cavemen” sequencies, not really funny and interesting, but god is it worth it! Just for the look on Giles face when Cave!Buffy threaten him, the fear!!!!

    And the little meta goodness about antidrug messages on tv is so delicious!


  33. [Note: PeeDee posted this comment on August 14, 2010.]

    This and WTWTA are the worst Buffy episodes by far. Borderline unwatchable. The plot is boring and the comedy is simple and insulting to Buffy viewers. I couldn’t wait for them to be done. This is from a person who is watching though the entire series for the first time. BB and WTWTA are terrible. Seriously, after I got done watching WTWTA, I googled “Tracy Forbes worst Buffy writer”… it sure pulled up a lot of hits.

    It’s actually how I got to this site. 🙂


  34. [Note: Jason posted this comment on August 20, 2010.]

    Well, I guess I’m officially crazy.

    I was dreading this episode, but having watched it, I think it’s actually quite decent. Buffy as cavewoman was funny. The conversation between Willow and Parker, and later Parker’s apology to Buffy, were kind of interesting and complicated. Xander was true and brave.

    In its own way, this episode was actually more interesting and more subtle than (my least favorite episode) “Living Conditions”, which was predictable, over-the-top, and boring. 🙂


  35. [Note: MissKittyFantastico posted this comment on August 21, 2010.]

    I don’t mind this episode either! I agree with Jason about the parts he mentioned, and a chunk of the episode was quite funny. It gets boring towards the end, when the plot consists mostly of cavemen running around acting stupid, but the rest definitely pulls it up for me.


  36. [Note: Susan posted this comment on August 29, 2010.]

    I am on my third run-through of the whole series, watching each episode regardless of my previous thoughts of individual episodes. I was very tempted to skip this one or fast forward through parts but I made myself watch the whole thing last night. To my surprise, I found that I enjoyed it much more than I remembered from the first times. The grunting caveman guys were pretty obnoxious but Xander was at his best. He’s not a favorite character of mine but I really liked him here. I especially liked how he practiced the soulful bartender thing with the lighter over and over and yet when he finally got a chance to use the line he was so distracted with his worry for Buffy that he just held up the no smoking sign. That and Willow’s response to Parker’s line and then the ending where Buffy punches Parker after he finishes saying the words she had been dreaming that he would say. There really were a lot of good moments in this, and I found it much more entertaining than many of the other episodes that are usually found at the bottom of most people’s lists of least favorite episodes.


  37. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on September 2, 2010.]


    “Nothing can defeat the penis!”

    Oz mesmerised by Veruca singing and Willow concerned.

    Willow misunderstanding drinking beer with group sex.

    Xander: “Well, I’ve just cut you off.” Buffy: “…Did it hurt?”

    Cave Slayer is hilarious. Spinning on the chair and sniffing Xander and threatening Giles.

    Buffy knocks out Parker…twice.


    Everyone yelling their order to Xander at the same time. When does this ever happen.


  38. [Note: Seán posted this comment on September 10, 2010.]

    What annoyed me about this episode was how the barman just tells Xander casually that his brother’s a warlock! I mean – come on – the supernatural is supposed to be secret and the barman shouldn’t know that Xander would know about it!


  39. [Note: Mash posted this comment on August 8, 2011.]

    Regarding Willow – great interaction with Parker, but I can see here the writers trying to prepare us for Willow going gay. The thoughts about men she says here are also echoed in Restless. I recall the writers saying something like they never meant for Willow to be gay but decided to do so when Amber showed chemistry with Alyson and Seth wanted to leave anyway. Generally I have no issue with a gay or bisexual character, but this just makes homosexuality seems like a choice just because men seem to be more horny than faithful.

    Regarding beer/cavemen – certainly this episode is mostly saying “booze is bad” but occasionally I feel like it was a preview for the first slayer since they are styled similarly. Which never sat well for me.


  40. [Note: Rob posted this comment on October 22, 2011.]

    Always a little embarrassing to watch, but the consolation is that once you get past the cavemen running around, and you come to the second clubbing of Parker, you’re off into one of the best runs of the whole series, lasting through the first bit of “Doomed”. S3 is full of wonderful things but drains me. It’s hard to watch our friends being pulled apart like that. During this run we’ll see a welcome regrouping. While we lose Oz in the next episode, by “Pangs” we have all the major characters of the endgame together except for Dawn, plus we meet Tara in “Hush”.


  41. [Note: niteamneek posted this comment on December 12, 2011.]

    When Buffy takes the sandwich from the student in front of her, it reminded me of Faith’s “want, take, have” philosophy in Bad Girls (3×14). A perfect example of prof. Walsh’s lecture topic of the “Id”. Typing this now reminds me of the Krell in Forbidden Planet (1956).


  42. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on April 23, 2012.]

    Ok, i’m now making my way through this season having lived and re-lived and possibly even RE-LIVED seasons 1-3 via my DVDs.

    I may be in a minority but i actually don’t mind this episode; it has a nice light hearted feel to it and it allows Buffy to find her inner strength and get over Parker.

    So far this season has left Buffy in little pieces of her former self, she had the uneasiness in The Freshman and her self doubt until besting Sunday. Following this we see Parker using and abusing her one of the worst ways imaginable. Fear Its Self didn’t mend the damage left behind. We needed this episode to allow Buffy to grow and fix herself. We needed; dare i say it, Cave Buffy.

    There is a lovely contrast between people of today and the cave dwellers of yesteryear. At the beginning Buffy is cast adrift with confusion and complexity, second guessing and over-thinking the events with Parker, there is a lot of wishing and visualising not to mention her chat with Willow about being bubble Buffy. Fast forward a few scenes and we have Cave Buffy, a Buffy without a busy head instead we simply have want, take and have Buffy. The end scene with Buffy hitting Parker over the head once she has rescued him is the moment Buffy is over it so to speak. Without the ability to over think her feelings and confuse herself she simply acts. Thus Buffy is no longer seeing through rose tinted glasses regarding Parker! YEY!

    The alcohol usage in this episode is something which although i’m pleased was addressed it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been but i agree with the overall message it was attempting to put out there.

    The only real thing i disliked in Beer Bad were the male students, there running around the town moments sends me back to the frat boys in Reptile Boy, especially the drunk who ran at Buffy wanting to dance with her.

    Priceless scene for me was Giles! His attempting to describe cave Buffy to a student and his addressing Buffy in her room was comedy gold!


  43. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 24, 2012.]

    This isn’t a stellar episode but it’s amusing. For me, I really liked Xander in it, trying to be relevant as usual. But, as usual, everyone is bringing him down. so the “geo-political… mean to me!” line is pretty amusing. And being too loud with the penis line is strange but funny. My favorite part is now what did we learn about beer? Foamy! I think that’s a classic ending to this kind of after-school-special-esque episode.


  44. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on February 27, 2013.]

    I can understand why people disliked this one so much. On the other hand, even if you don’t like the humour in it, you can’t deny that everyone was very much true to his/her character – even cave-Buffy – and there were some nice interactions. There’s even continuity and finality with Parker and some foreshadowing of episodes to come (Oz, Willow).

    For me, a truly bad episode is one in which the main cast act out of character and the plot makes no sense. Here we have some character development and a plot that makes sense even though it is totally silly. So, I’m in total agreement with the rating and the review.


  45. [Note: Gon posted this comment on March 13, 2013.]

    Well, for me the problem with the episode is the “Have we learned our lesson? Beer is bad” touch. In “Band Candy” we have a similar plot but no one is trying to convince me I shouldn’t eat chocolate.

    As an adult this moralistic lesson offends me and makes me feel the episode was conceived by Pat, Joyce’s friend in “Dead Man’s Party”.

    Apart from that impression, I can watch the episode be amused. I still prefer “Beer Bad” to a lot of S7 episodes with all those boring Buffy speeches… she actually looks a bit like Pat too in those moments 🙂


  46. [Note: AnnieLee posted this comment on May 28, 2013.]

    I am surprised this episode got a C. This is one of my favorite Buffy episodes. I think it shows the strong aspect of Buffy as a human being. When she hits Parker over the head is priceless!


  47. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on May 29, 2013.]

    I think “Beer Bad” is underrated. This is not to say it is a good episode, because it’s not. But it’s a lot better than people give it credit for. It has genuine character growth, a lot of laughs, and a couple good thematic ideas. That said, it’s still overly silly, on the nose, and has too many extended scenes with grunting cavemen.

    Don’t be surprised if this episode gets a slight point increase when I touch up this review.


  48. [Note: WCRobinson posted this comment on July 11, 2013.]

    Just watched this. The first half of the episode, and small parts of the second half (Willow and Parker is brilliant) are all great Buffy, but I found myself bored in the big action scene at the end. SMG is clearly trying to make it work, but the whole cavemen and cavewomen thing is just boring.

    I think having Xander in the bar scenes kinda saved the episode though, as otherwise there would have been a LOT of less interesting scenes with characters you don’t care about.


  49. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on October 20, 2013.]

    I noticed you mentioned in this review that you had thought there was a possible relationship with buffy&Xander after season 7.

    Interesting thing is that buffy actually grows feelings for Xander. but xander would not take her seriously and turned her down because he was romantically involved with Dawn. There is a season 8&9 but they are all comic books that are an actual continuation of the series. Reading what happens after season 7 interests me because This is my absolute favorite show! And btw this episode is deffinatly not bad at all. My personal least favorite is I robot, you jane. and even that one has some good moments. any way love the review.


  50. [Note: Conor posted this comment on January 28, 2014.]

    “Beer Bad” was this season’s second ‘comedy’ episode – meaning that it was played entirely for laughs. Unfortunately, with the exception of a handful of quips from joke-meister Xander, nothing in this episode was actually amusing. Terribly silly story. Absolute garbage. Easily the worst episode of the entire series thus far.


  51. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on January 28, 2014.]

    I … sort of disagree. I think there are a handful of S1 episodes worse than this – ‘The Pack,’ ‘I Robot, You Jane,’ ‘The Puppet Show’ – plus ‘Bad Eggs’ from S2.


  52. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on June 5, 2014.]

    Wow. Honestly, it’s hard for me to understand how people could see this, of all episodes, as anywhere even close to the worst of the whole series. I mean, the worst things I can think of to say about it are that it’s a tad silly (though I really don’t mind that, actually) and that parts of it are slightly dull. But it’s fundamentally an episode that I like (even if it’s just as far from being “one of the best” as it is from being “one of the worst”).

    I’m not sure what I’d call my least favorite Buffy episode, but this one wouldn’t even vaguely be in the running; there are 1st, 6th, and 7th season episodes that are much worse (not saying that all episodes from those seasons are bad by any means, but most of the ones that I have the biggest problems with are in one of those three seasons…).

    Also, while I do think the episode sought to have some goofy fun on the theme of a certain segment of the populace’s mindless obsession with beer, I don’t read it as some kind of simple-minded or heavy-handed “drinking is bad” message show. Xander’s “what did we learn” comment at the end needn’t be taken so seriously, nor does Giles berating Xander for serving beer to Buffy mean that Giles is some kind of tee-totaler. I mean, the main characters are 18 here; fairly conventional opinion (not to mention the law) says that you’re “not supposed” to be getting drunk at that age. You can agree or disagree with that view, but for the characters to reflect it hardly seems objectionable to me!


  53. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on June 9, 2014.]

    I feel the need to point out that this episode was made because around the turn of the millennium, the U.S. Office of Drug Control gave money to television programs that wrote anti-drug episodes.

    Funnily enough, they didn’t get the money on the grounds that the episode was “too weird.”


  54. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on June 10, 2014.]

    Well, that would explain “Eternity”, to an extent. And “Chokin’ and Tokin'”. And that whole “White House using drugs” story arc.

    I wouldn’t call “Beer Bad” an anti-drug episode as much as an anti-alcohol one, though. Particularly compared to the more pointed anti-drug arc the writers botched in Season Six.


  55. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on June 10, 2014.]

    Personally I always thought that this episode and “Where the Wild Things Are” (which have the same writer/director team) are basically a two-parter dedicated to mocking the tendancy in pop culture for most fictional portrayals of college life to consist mainly of drinking alcohol and having sex.

    The mockery could have been better executed, but I still see that as the intended purpose here.


  56. [Note: Stewball posted this comment on June 11, 2014.]

    “Beer Bad” was the first episode of BtVS that I ever saw, and I must say that I laughed out loud at several points. Of course, the actual plot — genome-altering beer — is absurd (though, as I would later learn, fairly tame by Whedonverse standards), but it scarcely matters alongside the humor. For me, this single exchange justifies the entire episode:
    Xander: What did we learn about beer?
    Buffy: Foamy!
    I’ve been drinking beer for a long time, and I’ve never heard a more succinct description of its essence. This episode also gives us another example of Whedon’s deep-seated animosity towards frat boys, culminating, of course, in “Selfless”. And, as has been noted elsewhere, we gain some insight into the Slayer’s nature: even in her, umm, condition, she runs toward the fire.

    Learning that this episode was an (unsuccessful) attempt to wheedle a grant out of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is just icing on a surreal cake.


  57. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 12, 2014.]

    I really don’t understand what the writers were aiming with this one; whatever it was, I think they didn’t manage to execute their point very well and things got sort of muddled. The cavemen grunting and jumping around town like major lunatics was off-putting, but this episode is not all that bad if you just fast-forward those parts. On my second run of the entire series, when I came to this episode, all I had to do was skip the cavemen running around town part and it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be.

    This episode has its hilarious moments. I love the Xander/Buffy exchange when Cave Buffy says “Say bye!”, Xander’s “Nothing can defeat the penis!” is one of my favorite Buffy lines xD and the scene with Oz and Willow was cute too. “You got us a table.” “I had to kill a man.” “Well, its a very good table.”

    Surprisingly, there is a lot to like. Willow and Xander are both magnificent in this episode. Xander really is the ‘heart’ of the group, he himself was going through a ‘rough day’ when he asked Buffy about hers later in the bar. So yes, this episode was fun, especially in the bashing-the-poophead sense. I especially liked the fantasy scene at the beginning, the corresponding scene at the end with the tree limb, and the scene where Willow took down Parker. An open shirt, a dozen roses, and a pint of Haagen-Daz? Works for me, as long as they don’t come with Parker. Three years ago Willow might have succumbed to his charms, but — “Just how gullible do you think I am?” What a great scene.

    It also sets up the premise for the next episode, and Cave Buffy is hilarious, adorable and interesting to watch. Also, I feel the need to point out how similar Buffy seems to be to the First Slayer in the Cavewoman state. And she runs to the fire fearlessly, there are tons of ‘Buffy and Fire’ parallels throughout the run of the show. When the FS is telling her that death is her gift, there’s a bon-fire separating the two, and the scene in OMWF, “I touch the fire and it freezes me.” (or something like that). Anyway, I just found the dynamic interesting although now that I’ve jotted it down it doesn’t seem like a very commendable discovery. Oh well.

    So is this episode a cinematic treasure? Well, no. But I still enjoy it. Particularly Cave Buffy. SMG did a great job. She actually has great comedic timing. This episode is definitely a throwback to season 1 or maybe early season 2. As for people who consider this the worst of the series, I would advise them to watch “I Robot, You Jane” or “Where the Wild Things Are” again :).


  58. [Note: Annie posted this comment on June 24, 2014.]

    I just watched this episode and thought it was OK. I didn’t like the part on elaborating the cavemen behavior grunting and all sorts. It dragged the plot and how Buffy threw the fire extinguisher back into the fire was stupid. I mean why did she take it out in the first place? I guess it was to show their simplicity. Yet there are some scenes that liked,I liked how Xander asked about the tips, how Willow looked all sweet when Parker was talking to her yet she was able to bullet point his tactics, and how Buffy although still in caveslayer mode, was still able to beat Parker not once, but twice! It was a humorous show.


  59. [Note: ML posted this comment on August 2, 2014.]

    Oh come on! A relationship between Buffy and Xander?! Just no! They are cute as friends and I don’t get this TV idea that shows that every single male and female friends have to become more than friends eventually.
    I agree with the rest of the review. I do find the cavemen boring, but I love the Parker scenes (both Buffy’s day dreams and the conversation with Willow and, of course, the end). I find it funny that when it comes to see the Parker for who he is and deserves, cave Buffy does it better than “real” Buffy.
    I also like that Xander spends so much time annoying Buffy with a lighter saying “Rough day? You wanna talk about it?”, but when a woman comes to the bar saying “I had such a rough day” and pushes a cigarette and asks for the lighter, he shows her immediately the non-smoking sign, without even glancing at her as he is already watching Buffy.


  60. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on October 15, 2014.]

    Xander’s (in)famous “Nothing can defeat the PENIS!” line is very obviously an overdub; does anyone know what it replaced, and why it was changed?


  61. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on October 15, 2014.]

    If that’s really the case, the line must have been really badly mangled for the production team to think that the jarringly out-of-place overdub would be better.


  62. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 15, 2014.]

    I enjoy how seriously Willow takes the role of best friend, as she goes off and messes with Parker’s mind.


  63. [Note: MichaelJB posted this comment on September 30, 2015.]

    There were a couple extra things I noticed in this episode – the most important is that Buffy, even in her most primitive state, is a person who takes a leadership role in a crisis and works to save others. The second is that Buffy as a cavegirl reminds me of immediately-post-grave Buffy in Season 6, both in appearance and animalistic behavior.


  64. [Note: David posted this comment on November 15, 2015.]

    I actually liked this episode. Is it one of the best? No. But it’s definitely not one of the absolute worst episodes or anything. I think it’s a pretty funny episode, and it’s not nearly the simplistic “alcohol is bad” polemic most think it is. It also has a lot of good and important material that links it to the previous and future episodes — Parker, Oz/Veruca, etc. It’s actually not that much of a stand-alone episode, especially not in the first half.


  65. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 27, 2016.]

    Kind of amusing you now have Bad Eggs as an example of a worse episode here when now it’s considerably higher in score. I guess we’ll see what this episode gets in the future.


  66. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on February 29, 2016.]

    Another very underrated episode. I wonder how many of those that think this is the worst episode all think CWDP is the best? Both are huge stretches. There are at least two or three worse episodes in both Season 6 and 7 alone, then anything in S4. But S4 is a very underrated season also. And stop saying Bad Eggs is a bad episode – it’s similar in structure to Beer Bad and neither are bad episodes. I’d place both in the B range easily.

    Here, th but metaphor formula works well. The old joke that beer turns men into primitives, BtVS style. For those that think the message is literal, bear in mind that if that were the case normal beer would turn us into ‘cavemen’. In reality alcohol has varied effects on a person, not the Hollywoodland cliche that it just makes you happier, hornier and without inhibition control. Thankfully other shows in the UK we’re dealing with this subject in a better way than that. This episode plays with the cliche via the metaphor of actual cursed beer, but the cave people also become drunk themselves. This is used to great comic effect, particularly with Buffy but also with the squabbling of the cavemen (I think it’s particularly funny when they laugh/club each other).

    Overall, there are enough laughs and plot movement from previous episodes to make this enjoyable. Buffy finally flattens Parker and we can start to move on to the guy she should really have talked to more in the first episode, Riley.


  67. [Note: Joy posted this comment on March 1, 2016.]

    With the exception of finding the cavemen slapstick funny, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve never understood the hate for Beer Bad (or Bad Eggs). I love them both. SMG has great comedic chops! Would have preferred less hooting and grunting and a more interesting, creative depiction of the cavemen, but fast-forwarding through those scenes leaves a very funny episode. Sure, we expect more from BtVS, but not every episode can be Shakespeare. Heck, even Shakespeare didn’t come up with a Hamlet every time.


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