The Slayerettes have a Dawn Question that they want to poll..., Do You Like Dawn?
Do you like Dawn? And if you do/don't, why?
Here is my opinion... I like Dawn as an idea. I like that Buffy had to confront the idea that she may have to turn against her best friends and her mentor to protect her, but I think the writing was lacking. This is because the writers thought of Dawnie as younger than Michelle Trachtenberg, but they didn't adjust their writing to fit the fact that they hired an older actress (on the recommendation of SMG).
I think Michelle did an awesome job, but too often the writers still kept writing her as if she was 12, even though she was clearly going through puberty and growing breasts. So, if I have negative feelings about Dawn, it isn't about the actress... but rather the writers, who couldn't be bothered to re-think the role and her dialog.
I think Dawn takes way too much heat as a character that is really the fault of the writers, rather than the character, herself. Also? From my point of view, she really came into her own when she (1) was ready to jump into the portal because better the world than her own existence, and (2) Season 7 - when she was awesome with the research (yes there was the throwing Buffy out of her own home thing - but again, I blame the writers, not Dawn herself for that). I wish they (again, the effing writers, who I swear I could do more justice to her and Buffy than the writers of S8 - including Joss, which I weep over) would involve her more as an active participant in her own destiny rather than someone Buffy needs to look after. In fact, I would completely support Dawn slapping Buffy and Willow upside the head and informing them that she is nearing adulthood and can make her own decisions without her 'family' looking to take her choice away, no matter what the consequences!
Would I pair her with Xander? No. In fact, I'm really kind of wondering where that came from... but it isn't outside possibility, so I can accept it. But, I think I'd prefer Dawn to be paired with some OC. The important thing to me though, is stop using Dawn as a thing that Buffy needs to protect/correct/save. Allow her to be a character all her own who can freely choose to join The Slayers' cause, or turn her back on the New Council life... whichever... I want Dawn to make her own decisions about her life. I want Joss and the S8 writing staff to allow her to take control of her own life; of her own power as a modern young woman.
I would love to see Dawn not hurt, but to allow her to defeat the Big Bad for a change. To turn to Willow, Giles, Buffy, AND Xander and say... "Look, I know that you're the Slayer (the support who has all the experience), but I don't need any of you to protect me, anymore. I hold my own Fate in my hands, and if I make the wrong decision and suffer, then at least this is my choice!"
So... my opinion is not that Dawn was not a bad choice or a "jump the shark" moment in BTVS, but that the writers and even Joss, keep seeing her in terms of this plot device instead of as an adult woman who can make her own choices and accept the consequences thereof.
Let her grow up. Let her own her choices. If you want her to be with Xand, fine, but let it be on her terms, not as it relates to the one (either Buffy or Xan) or more of the core-4. Let her turn to her family and acknowledge what they all sacrificed for her (not ignore it, especially Buffy's taking her place dying rather than let Glory succeed, which she shouldn't just pretend never happened) but that she can't go on living as if she owes them something in perpetuity, or what is the point of having survived at all? And, I want the Core-3 ... Giles isn't actually a factor in this at this point... to admit to Dawn that they still think of her as the younger sister who needs to be shielded in spite of the obvious facts of her life. This is especially important between her and Xander, so he can love her for HER..., not as Buffy's younger sister.
I guess the bottom line is that I don't want Dawn to ignore what everyone suffered for her. That was real, and I want her to acknowledge the sacrifices in her name. But, I also want her to grow beyond that. To say, "I get what you all did, and I am grateful beyond my soul, but if I stay defined by that, then I'll never be HUMAN." And for the others to admit that they still think of her as the victim and to pledge to at least try to remember that ultimately, she is responsible for her own choices and her own life, and she doesn't continue to owe them anything, because they made the choice to fight for her, even as she made the choice to live.