Note: Spoilers for… pretty much all of Buffy.
The witches’ world is divided into two groups: those who love Buffy as good, clean (okay, sometimes not so clean) fun and those who knock it for giving the rest of the world a wrong impression of the craft. Admittedly, the second group has a good point, but I happen to fall into the former.
Although many find the fact that Willow is shown getting ‘addicted’ to magick and suddenly doing horrible things an atrocious representation, I think it is more honest than maybe even Joss Whedon meant it to be. Power is the most addictive substance in the world and if any of us could truly experience some of the things Willow does on the show, we would probably be apt to get addicted too. The important part of the story is that she recovers and learns to control her desires so they don’t affect her ability to help others. Perhaps most interestingly, it is actually a coven of witches who aids her in her rehabilitation and who is there for her whenever she needs support.
Although Willow is certainly the most prominent witch on the show, others affect her and even the course of the show in important ways. Amy and her mother were the first witches shown, one abusive of her powers and the other a bit clueless about them. Her mother could probably be deemed an ‘evil witch’ with no problem but Amy started out innocent enough. As the story went on, of course, she became so powerful she turned down the path she was perhaps already predisposed to.
Then, of course, there is Tara, with the insane family and the self-deprecating streak. Tara’s main purpose was usually as a love interest and I always felt we didn’t see enough of her abilities beyond research and getting kicked around by villains and Willow alike. She unfortunately became a catalyst for Willow’s problems and was one of those tragic examples of someone who did no wrong and still met with disaster. (Perhaps those up-in-arms should be more upset about Tara’s portrayal in the end than Willow’s!)
The most forgotten Buffy witch, however, and my personal favorite, is Jenny. A late-90s technopagan with a smart mouth and a love of monster trucks, (not to mention a family tradition worth dying for), Jenny got the short end of the stick. Her death scene is perhaps one of the most heartbreaking on the show and is essentially responsible for much of what happened in season two. And although she left her friends and lover behind so early in the show, she reappeared again and again as a ghost, a figment of someone’s imagination or worse, always in the same blouse and skirt she died in.