A Buffy Confession

I am a Buffy tragic. I have been an avid follower and, of late, scholar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since the first season. It’s the first television show I’ve ever been obsessed with, the first time I’ve found myself in the role of a fan. A particularly strange shift for me because I’ve spent a large part of my scholarly career writing about fans without actually being one. Now I am. I watch the show. A lot. I read and write about it online, in magazines, fanzines, journals, books. I’ve lectured about it. I’ve been interviewed about it for Australian TV, radio and print media.

There’s a long list of reasons why so many people love Buffy. Reasons that have been given by fans and scholars and reviewers and others consuming vast tracks of the internet and print in the form of articles and reviews, poems and stories. Buffy the Vampire Slayer captured me in the first place because it was a genre TV show that took the rules of the genre seriously, understood them, was metaphorically resonate, cared about continuity and consistency, engaged in fabulous world-building, was intelligently written and acted and had a sassy self-awareness that was not sly or annoying. It is both funny and sad, often at the same time.

My obsession involves watching the show repeatedly, devouring DVD and other commentary by the writers, particularly Joss Whedon, and thinking long and hard about the show. This intense engagement with a set of interlocked texts as complex and as well-executed as Buffy is extraordinarily pleasurable.

My increasing obsession and professional engagement with Buffy has found me frequently called upon to defend the show. Not to the large unwashed hordes out there who will never watch or understand the show (and frankly, who cares about them?) but to other Buffy fans. Ever since the fourth season, when Buffy and the Scoobies left Sunnydale High behind, there has been a vehement rain of Buffy fan backlash.

Like relationships with other human beings, fan relationships with TV shows sometimes thrive on a mix of love and hatred, none more so than Buffy. For the past few seasons, my role of defender has meant I haven’t always admitted to my own dissatisfactions with Buffy. I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer more than I’ve ever loved a TV show (hell, more than quite a few people in my life) but there are times when I hate it too.

Defending Buffy The Vampire Slayer

. . . . I read occasionally that people haven’t been as happy with this year (actually, I hear that every year), show’s not the same… (Posted by: Joss Whedon May 22, 2002, 2:15 AM UPN.com linear board)

I loathe defending Buffy to other fans. I feel like I’m defending a close relative. I want to tell them, "If you can’t say anything nice, then shut up." I am not rational about it. While defending the show I will say anything, no matter how illogical. I will frequently contradict myself. I don’t care. If a particular writer is attacked I will dredge the record for good episodes or lines they’ve written. I will airily wave aside complaints about plot holes as a clever play with the tropes of the genre. I’ll make stuff up: "That was not a crap line. It was a direct reference to Cansino’s last film, The Widow in the Shadows made for RKO just before he was blacklisted. Had a limited release in 1962. Nope, not available on DVD. Though apparently there’s a French bootleg video."

I cannot stand fans being so narkily and pickily critical of the show. Don’t they understand how tight the TV-land budget of time and money is? Don’t they understand that certain actors aren’t always available? Don’t they want to enjoy the show? Anyway, why does everything have to be about whether each episode or season was good or not? Don’t they realise that you can’t possibly decide that until you’ve watched it at least five or more (often way more) times? I wish they would embrace proper criticism, that mystical process whereby you can write thousands of words about the object you dissect without once revealing whether you like it or not.

Of course, I also can’t stand fans who (like myself) defend Buffy against all criticism no matter how just. Or who like it for the wrong reasons. The show is not perfect. There have been bad episodes. I know that. I just can’t stand to hear others say it.

The first murmurs of "They’ve lost it" and "Buffy‘s going down the toilet" began with Angel’s return at the beginning of Season Three. He was dead. How could they bring him back? What a cheap gimmick. Like some trashy afternoon soap opera. When a character’s dead they should stay dead. (Hmmm, I pointed out, you mean like Buffy’s death in "Prophecy Girl"?) His return from hell, the critics muttered, undermines the tragic arc of the second season. Of course, by the end there was far less murmuring about bringing Angel back, and many fans now believe Season Three is the best ever.

Buffy had been criticised by fans before, but only for less-than-great episodes. "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" 1.11, "Bad Eggs" 2.12 and "Beauty and the Beasts" 3.4 had all been slammed, but Season Four was the first time a sizeable number were trashing a whole season. What was it about Season Four? I have friends who say it was Angel’s departure. These same people prefer Angel to Buffy. As they are clearly insane, I’ll discount them. (They also think "Once More, With Feeling" 6.7 is the worst Buffy episode ever, so you can rest easy with my dismissal of their opinions.)

Most of the criticism boiled down to unhappiness with the Scoobies leaving high school. The show, many said, just doesn’t work once the central literalised metaphor—high school is hell—is lost. When the Scoobies are in college or working various odd jobs or unemployed, there’s no easy overarching metaphor that binds the show together. Being a young adult, trying to find yourself; life after high school is more complex. But it does resonate. The Scoobies’ search for adult lives and adult identities is certainly more emotionally real than any number of so-called realist shows about everyday life such as thirtysomething.

Another criticism aimed at Season Four is its preponderance of arc episodes. I have a friend who is convinced that more arc episodes than standalones means that a show is "decadent." Buffy, he says, has been irretrievably decadent since that dreaded fourth season. The references to previous incidents, once clever and witty, now overwhelm the show, making it an indulgent exercise playing to the in-crowd. Buffy is so dependent on internal references, this friend maintains, that it is now a soap opera.

I disagree. Strongly. Or maybe I don’t. Maybe it is a soap opera, but one screened in prime time with brilliant writing, fabulous acting and far less than sixty pages of script filmed a day.

Some other criticisms of the show I’ve had to deal with:
None of Buffy’s lovers since Angel have been worthy of her. He was her one true love. My response is to try not to roll my eyes. Angel is, in fact, my least favourite of Buffy’s partners. Even Riley is better (despite the writers apparently not knowing how dodgy it is for a T. A. to sleep with one of his freshman students). Their relationship was particularly interesting towards the end when Riley’s doing the whole vampire drug/sex thing. Ah, sweet tragedy. Buffy mooning after the wooden Angel was tedious, overdone (a big uggh to their theme music) and lasted way too long. It only became interesting after he became Angelus. The more compelling (with way better dialogue) Season Two relationships were between Spike & Drusilla and Cordelia & Xander.

They’ve neutered Spike. He hasn’t been a decent character since Season Two. Oh, how many ways can I disagree with this one? I love Spike with a chip. I love Spike with a soul. I adore him tragically in love with Buffy. "Fool For Love" 5.7 gives every Spike episode an extra layer—oh the fun of looking for William (I-may-be-a-bad-poet-but-I’m-a-good-man) in badass Spike.

All the villains have sucked ever since the Mayor was toasted. Why does no-one remember how lame the Master was? Worst villain ever. (And unfortunately he had the same name as the villain in Doctor Who who was way less lame.) The Initiative was a great idea. Glory is underrated. The Trio was mostly silly but had many interesting moments.

The writing has just gotten worse and worse (also known as the why-can’t-Joss-write-every-episode complaint). There are just as many shithouse, badly written episodes in the early seasons. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" anyone? Or "Inca Mummy Girl" 2.4? (Can’t help with the Joss complaint. I wish Joss wrote and directed every episode too, although with the proviso that I don’t think every episode he writes on his own is pure gold. "Lie To Me" 2.7, "Anne" 3.1 and "Family" 5.6 are nowhere near the level of "Prophecy Girl" 1.12 or "The Body" 5.16. One episode Whedon co-wrote is amongst the worst Buffy episodes ever: the aforementioned "Out of Mind, Out of Sight.")

Season Four was going to be hated even before it first aired. Buffy tragics (like me) sat down to watch the first broadcast of "The Freshman" 4.1 with a great deal of fear in their hearts. Would the show be as good as it used to be? Is it all over? That fan fear has remained. Can the best TV show of all time stay good after so many seasons? Every episode is watched with an eye for evidence of decline. And every Buffy fan I know has turned to me to prove to them that the end isn’t pretty seriously nigh.

The fear is in my heart too. In my position as defender of Buffy to the once faithful, I watch each new episode with mounting terror. Is it a crap episode? Is it a crap season? Should I be heckling along with everybody else? Is Buffy’s inability to kill Spike a sign of decadence? Is Willow’s evil turn amateurishly handled, and her recovery even more so? Are they lamely recycling villains? Am I ever going to be able to watch a new episode of the show and simply enjoy it?

Buffy Mini-Festivals, or, How DVDs Saved My Life

No, I will never again enjoy an episode the first time through. I’m too nervous, too absorbed with anticipating criticisms and how to respond to them. I’m not capable of enjoying an episode until I’ve watched it several times. And it doesn’t become pure pleasure until the DVD set comes out and I’ve watched said episode in the context of the whole season (including all the writer/director commentaries) in the space of two or three Buffy-packed days.

Oh the glories of DVDs. Episodes that I hated when I first saw them are transformed. "Ted" 2.11 turns out to be a chillingly good episode, not the dreaded movie-of-the-week number I remembered. Even less-than-great episodes like "Some Assembly Required" 2.2 with its spectacularly lame plot—boy reanimates dead sports-hero brother (with his high school science know-how) and then builds him a mate out of spare dead-girl parts—turns out to have wonderful arc development and priceless exchanges between the Scoobies. It’s a rare episode that doesn’t have at least a moment of fabulous dialogue or a gorgeous set up for events a season or more later.

Listening to Joss Whedon’s commentary over "The Body" confirms every worshipful thought you have ever indulged about the guy’s writing and his attitude to making the show. The creators think about what they’re doing:

Joss Whedon: "Buffy" is made by a bunch of writers who think very, very hard about what they are doing in terms of psychology and methodology. We take the show very seriously. We are perhaps the most pompous geeks of them all. When somebody says there is a philosophy behind "Buffy" that is the truth. When they say there is symbolism and meaning in what we’re doing, that’s true too.
(Joss Whedon AOL Chat, 10 November 2002 http://www.geocities.com/soporjoe77/josschat.html)

Although watching a whole season back to back is excellent, there are stomach-tightening moments when horrible suspicions about a given episode or story arc are confirmed. Yep, it is as bad as I feared. But there is a solution—a beautiful one which has salved the wounds suffered while watching and defending Buffy. I create my own Buffy mini-festivals! I recommend it as the very best way to ensure your Buffy viewing is stress- and anxiety-free.

All that’s required is some judicious episode selection. Start with the obvious, say a series of relationship festivals: Spike & Buffy (first "School Hard" 2.3, next "Halloween" 2.6 and so forth), or Cordelia & Xander ("What’s My Line Part 2" 2.10, "Ted" 2.11, "Bad Eggs" 2.12 and "Innocence" 2.14 etc.). Or you could have a Jonathan festival ("Inca Mummy Girl," "Reptile Boy" 2.5 etc.) Or a Ripper retrospective ("Halloween," "Band Candy" 3.6 etc). Then you can graduate to the less obvious: the Anya’s-afraid-of-bunny-rabbits festival, the conveniently-located-axe festival, and the slutty clothes festival.

Here are some of my favourites:

The Perfect Buffy Festival
There’s at least one perfect episode of Buffy every season. Watching them together gives me a happy. The following are my current choice of most perfect from Seasons One to Six:

" Prophecy Girl" 1.12: What is so fabulous about "Prophecy Girl" is not that Buffy beats the tedious arch-villain, but that she does it with the aid of the entire ensemble cast. The episode is the distilled essence of everything that had been keeping me watching the show up to that point: the fabulous sharp dialogue between the characters ("You’re looking at my neck," says Xander to Angel on the way to rescue Buffy), the rip-roaring plot that barely lets up, the beautifully drawn friendship between Buffy, Willow and Xander, the tragedy of sixteen-year old Buffy walking knowingly to her death. All the promise of the season comes to fruition. Before "Prophecy Girl" I thought Buffy was a pretty cool show with some great moments, way better than anything else on the box. In its wake I was an obsessive Buffyholic.

" Innocence" 2.14: the episode when the Buffy & Angel romance finally got interesting. I adore the moment when you really know Angel is bad: not simply because he bites into the woman’s neck, but because he blows out a plume of her cigarette smoke. Angel’s smoking. He’s a villain now. This is a perfect arc episode because it turns the action up to eleven.

"The Zeppo" 3.13: By Season Three the fans were completely familiar with the standard Buffy plot, so clearly it was past time for the creators to mess things up a bit. They did so delightfully. Buffy deconstructs itself by making the A plot into the B plot. Angel and Buffy snatch a moment alone together, the music swells up, Xander walks in, the music goes away. It’s the first time the writers really played around with the structure of a Buffy episode, and it’s, well, perfect.

The perfect episodes of Seasons Four through Six are, of course, a no-brainer: "Hush" 4.22, "The Body" 5.16 and "Once More, With Feeling" 6.7. Not just perfect Buffy but perfect television.

Willow & Tara Festival

Okay, this is a pretty obvious festival, but I adore these two, and their relationship illustrates one of the many things I love about Buffy the Vampire Slayer: it endlessly builds on itself. Casual dialogue from early seasons start to become more resonant in the light of later events. "Willow’s not looking to date you," Xander says to Buffy, "or if she is she’s playing it pretty close to her chest" ("Prophecy Girl" 1.12). Then two seasons later in "Dopplegangland" 3.16, Vamp Willow comes onto Willow with the traditional face-licking method. "I think I’m kinda gay," says Willow, somewhat perturbed by the whole experience.

Seeds are planted and then they grow. It’s glorious to watch. Especially when they grow into Tara & Willow having the best metaphoric sex ever shown on television. When these two women do spells together then whoosh. From the hand-holding vending-machine propelling of "Hush" 4.10 to the unbelievably sexy spell of "Who Are You?" 4.16: Tara’s thumb to Willow’s forehead, lips and sternum, they begin to chant, they start to breath heavily, their hands touch, their breathing becomes even heavier, they glisten with sweat, their eyes half-close, a magical circle rises around them, they stare into each others’ eyes, Willow falls back gasping. Oh my. But there’s more to come: the superlative "You Make Me Complete" scene from "Once More, With Feeling." Sigh.

All-Charming-Pretty-Boys-Who-Aren’t-Vampires-Are-Bad Festival

I always knew that, but thanks to Buffy for proving it over and over again. Watch Tom in "Reptile Boy" 2.5, Ford in "Lie to Me" 2.7 and Parker Abrams in "Living Conditions" 4.2, "Harsh Light of Day" 4.3 and "Beer Bad" 4.5. They’re all variations of the same guy and they’re all bastards. But cute bastards.

Dreaming Buffy Festival

I love the way the show uses dreams. Instead of the gorgeous though not especially informative Twin Peaks’ dream sequences (nicely referenced with the red curtains in "Restless" 4.22) Buffy’s dreams are not merely beautifully done, but provide acres of plot and character exposition. In fact, the very first time we see Buffy, she’s in bed dreaming about the season’s villain, the Master ("Welcome to the Hellmouth" 1.1). Turns out Buffy dreams a lot, and those dream sequences just get better and better. The moment when Giles suddenly turns to strangle Buffy while Willow and Xander sit by obliviously ("When She Was Bad" 2.1) startles the viewer and instantly conveys just how much Buffy has not recovered from her ordeal with the Master. The predictive dream sequences of "Surprise" 2.13 and "Graduation Day Part 2" 3.22, with its references to Dawn’s arrival in Sunnydale two seasons later, are the beautiful seeds that grows into the all-dream episode of "Restless" 4.22. How much do I love "Restless"? My love is bigger than the ocean. I cap off this festival with the mostly-delusional "Normal Again" 6.15. Delusions, dreams. Same thing.

Tragic Buffy Festival
I love the sheer heart-wrenching pleasure of tragedy, and Buffy is the most tragic show on television. Hours of joyous pain and many damp tissues. A single line of dialogue can set me off, from Buffy’s plaintive, "Giles, I’m sixteen years old. I don’t want to die" ("Prophecy Girl" 1.12) to Jonathan’s speech when he presents Buffy’s Class Protector Award, "Most of the people here have been saved by you" ("The Prom" 3.20). "The Prom" makes me tear up no matter how many times I see it. So does "Innocence," "I Only Have Eyes For You" 2.19, with its haunting use of an already creepily haunting song, and "Seeing Red" 6.19 with Tara’s death. Of course "The Body" and "The Gift" 5.22 ("Don’t do it Buffy, let the brat jump!") make me howl.

Buffy’s life (like those of Hamlet and Odysseus) is one continuing train wreck that affects everyone around her. At the end of Season Six, there’s not a cast member who is not in some way a tragic figure. I love it.

But as I’ve mentioned several times there are times when I hate Buffy. Here are two festivals that show why:

Actually, They’re All Stupid Festival

Unfortunately there are a handful of episodes where the Scoobies seem to have collectively or individually lost all claim to even the intelligence of a gnat. Most don’t involve some spell that explains the idiocy away. Buffy spends most of "Triangle" 5.11 crying in an unconvincing, vaudevillian, over-the-top way. What the hell was that about? I bought that kind of acting in "Something Blue" 4.9 cause, well, there was a spell.

Worse still are the episodes when the entire cast, director and writing team are rendered moronic. "The Inca Mummy Girl" 2.4 has an even lamer plot than "Some Assembly Required," with no cool Scooby dialogue or arc plotting to save it. It’s ineptly written, directed and, sad to say, acted. The story could have been lifted from a Goosebumps book. Kids go to museum, scary mummy comes to life. The plot holes are large enough to drive an eighteen-wheeler through. The South American exchange student is staying for two weeks with the hugest trunk you ever saw—conveniently big enough to stash a body in. Everyone keeps doing things purely for plot reasons. There’s dead time. When Xander picks up the Incan Mummy girl from Buffy’s place there’s an endless, pointless filler conversation between them and Joyce and Buffy. It’s like watching As the World Turns. The dialogue between the Scoobies is awful: "Do we have to speak Spanish?" asks Xander. "Cause I don’t know much besides ‘Doritos’ and ‘chihuahua’."

"A Very Special Buffy"

This is the worst of all possible festivals, suitable for viewing only by the very brave. I hate with a fiery burning passion when an episode of Buffy turns into "a very special Buffy," something Whedon has explicitly promised would never happen. In these episodes some kind of heart- (or rather stomach-) wrenching problem comes up and is dealt with and we learn a lesson. You know what kids? Domestic violence is wrong ("Beauty and the Beasts" 3.4). Sick kids are sweet ("Killed By Death" 2.18). Death is sad ("Help" 7.4) These episodes are vile. I have to pinch myself. Am I watching some horrible cross between Charmed and Seventh Heaven?

"Help" does appallingly badly everything that "The Body" did brilliantly. We’re supposed to care about some kid we’ve never seen before who talks in breathless meant-to-be-wise-beyond-her-years psychobabble. Die, already. The penultimate scene consists of the Scoobies sitting around discussing their tragic loss as heart-tugging music swells around them. (Whedon specifically didn’t use music in "The Body" because it’s too easy; he didn’t want to let the audience off the hook.) Buffy says she wished she’d saved the kid, "She was special." Yeah the kid’s horrendous teenage angst poetry sure was special. In the last scene Buffy is back in her counsellor’s office. Gee, kids, looks like even our superhero Buffy can’t save everyone. Though, hang on—isn’t that the lesson learnt from Joyce’s death? The last two scenes of "Help" are just like the wrap of some sitcom or Touched by an Angel. It was all I could do not to throw up.

But even worse is the "very special Buffy" arc of Season Six: Willow’s magic addiction. Or, gee, could it be a metaphor for drug addiction? Just in case you haven’t caught on, there’s a poster-boy drug dealer with hippy clothes and long hair called Rack who talks slow, and lots of scenes of Willow being all spaced and, ooh, kind of stoned-looking. The sight of Willow in "Wrecked" 6.10 (which gets my vote for worst Buffy episode ever) in the junkie waiting room causes me physical pain. Drugs are bad, man. Just say no. I wished I’d been stoned watching it, which would at least have eased my pain. Man, the Buffy metaphors used to be a tad more clever and emotionally resonant. As in, you sleep with your boyfriend and overnight he turns into a monster.

I hate Willow’s becoming Dark Magic Queen all the more because the writers blew it. The set up for Willow’s descent goes all the way back to her first tentative steps with magic in season one. They did not need to belabour the drug addiction metaphor with Rack and Amy, and Willow’s AA (or is that MA?) total abstinence. (Especially as Giles’ approach at the beginning of Season Seven seems far more sensible.) I have rewritten that arc in my head a hundred times. First I put together a mini-festival of Willow’s use of magic, which includes Giles’ angry remonstration with Willow after she brings Buffy back ("Flooded" 6.4), and Willow’s chilling speech to Dawn ("Two to Go" 6.21). In the versions in my head, Willow’s complete descent into blind grief, rage and madness does not turn her into an after-school special villain mouthing ludicrous lines like, "There’s no-one in the world who has the power to stop me now!"

Way More Love than Hate
Ultimately the brilliance of Buffy makes the occasional falls from grace that much harder to stand. Knowing that every episode of Buffy could be a work of genius of the level of "Who Are You?" 4.16 or "Restless" or "Once More, With Feeling" makes the occasional sub-Charmed-level hour a stab to the heart. Why can’t Buffy be produced like The Sopranos, with time and money to burn?

Buffy is both good and bad; wonderful and excremental. Even the very worst episodes have moments of gold (well, okay, almost all do). And, even a few good episodes have a cringe-worthy moment or two. A great deal of criticism and other writing about Buffy has gotten caught up in dichotomous thinking: it’s good or it’s bad, it’s feminist or it’s misogynist; it’s racist or it isn’t. Buffy is all of these.

Buffy is certainly obsession-inspiring. That’s why I fervently hope that Season Seven is the last season of Buffy. Frankly, I can’t take any more. I pray that the show will end. I want to watch television without a stomach full of knots. Seven seasons is plenty. More than enough to keep me happy with endless reprogramming of my Buffy festivals. If it all stops at the end of this season then I can rule out the possibility that there will ever be an entire bad season that is nothing but episodes like "Killed By Death" and "Wrecked" and "Help." I want a finished, no-longer-unfolding text. I don’t want there ever to be a set of Buffy DVDs that I can’t do anything with.

Coda: Way More Hate than Love

The balanced, temperate words above were written only a short way into Season Seven, before I realised how horrifically Buffy the Vampire Slayer had gone off the rails. It’s many months now since I have made any attempt to defend the show. Instead I have taken to bitterly muttering about how much better it would have been if they’d finished in the Sixth Season, making "Normal Again" the final episode. I’m now one of those people I used to defend the show against. There is no one more bitter than an ex-true believer. Color me narky and picky.

I’m writing this coda a week after the season finale and to be honest I’m still in shock. On the one hand, I’ve gotten my wish: Season Seven is the last season of Buffy. On the other hand, I’ve also gottten what I most feared: a set of Buffy DVDs I can’t do anything with.

Everything I write in this coda is flying in the face of my assertion that you really can’t have a coherent opinion about a Buffy season until it’s come out on DVD and you’ve seen it at least five times. I’m not saying I won’t change my mind, but right now I’m looking forward to watching Season Seven on DVD about as much as I look forward to a 24 hour plane ride in cattle class.

Season Seven was a nightmare. Only three episodes I would describe as good (forget about looking for any works of genius—a "Once More, With Feeling", a "Hush"—there weren’t any): "Selfless" 7.5, "Conversations With Dead People" 7.7 and "Chosen" 7.22. Each of these episodes had problems. "Selfless" added all sorts of resonances to Anya’s character, setting up exciting possibilities for future development. None of them went anywhere. The rest of the season trundled along as if "Selfless" had never happened. The rationale for Tara’s not appearing to Willow was lame in the extreme. Why would Willow be persuaded, even for a second, by the annoying ditz from "Help"? "Chosen" felt exactly like what it was: an episode butchered to fit its hour time slot. Everything except the tedious Spike & Buffy love story was short-changed (I sure wish Faith and Robin Wood had gotten a bit more of that screen time). Anya’s death, which should have been tragic (especially in light of the groundwork laid down in "Selfless"), managed to elicit little more than a "bummer, man" expression from Xander. Hardly anyone else even noticed.

No episode of Season Seven made me cry. Well, okay, except for tears of disbelief that the show could possibly have become so bad. The worst failing of Season Seven has been the writing. Overall it’s been shocking. The humor was forced, and the characters all developed multiple personalities, none of them believable. The Buffy and Spike relationship become as wet and annoying as that of Buffy and Angel. Since when was Buffy a humourless bitch? Had the Scoobies learned nothing that they would so easily turn against her yet again? Since when did these people speak in a series of tedious speeches:

Buffy to Faith: Don’t be afraid to lead them. Whether you wanted it or not, their lives are yours. It’s only gonna get harder. Protect them, but lead them ("Empty Places" 7.19).

And yet, after all, it is Buffy. This is the nasty divorce, but we may in a year or two become friends again. There’s always a chance that those DVDs will work their magic and I’ll be able to come up with a whole new set of Buffy mini-festivals. (I can’t help noticing that "Selfless" is the perfect end to the Anya’s-afraid-of-bunny-rabbits festival.) Right now, though, I’m just so relieved it’s over.


Thanks to Scott Westerfeld, L. Timmel Duchamp and Glenn Yeffeth for all their useful comments on this essay, which was first published in Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Discuss Their Favorite Television Show (Smart Pop series) edited by Glenn Yeffeth.

New York City, 30 May 2003