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View Full Version : “The High School Years” vs. “The Later Years”



MikeB
27-04-17, 03:26 PM
I’m going through the [20th Anniversary] articles by putting them in Word and reading through the comments and ‘formatting’ the comments; consequently, it’s taking a while to go through the links. I’m up to post-#17.



“The High School Years” refer to BtVS S1-BtVS S3 but “The Later Years” seems to usually refer to “BtVS S6 & BtVS S7”.


* I consider BtVS S5 the best Season.

BtVS S3 and BtVS S6 are both solid Seasons, but I give the edge to BtVS S6 because the aftermath is more lasting.

The main problem with BtVS S4 is the lack of chemistry between SMG and ‘Riley’.

BtVS S7 was boring on TV but is a good Season when one can watch on DVD.



https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/10/20-buffy-vampire-slayer-feminist



Ross Farrar Apple22over7
10 Mar 2017 16:00

I love Season Six, despite its flaws. It was ballsy of a "teen" show to tackle depression and have its main character have a morbid existential crisis for an entire season-- and they explored depression as well as The Sopranos . Buffy's monologue/soliloquy at the end of “After Life” was harrowing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xddGliANJf4 It expanded the initial metaphor of the show ("High school is Hell") to the world itself being Hell. Which is how most people feel after the bliss of escaping High School.

It's a shame they botched the Willow arc by switching the metaphor from "power corrupts" (which had been foreshadowed for 4 years) to magic = drugs, drugs = bad. But there's still a lot of good stuff in there.

Season 7 they seemed to lose the magic altogether. But they wrapped things up nicely. * BtVS S6 Willow was still about “magic corrupts”. There isn’t much actual “magic equals drugs” outside of “Wrecked” (B 6.10).


* Buffy was depressed in BtVS S1-BtVS S3. Regarding Buffy, BtVS S6 and BtVS S7 is largely a retread of BtVS S2 and BtVS S3, respectively.


nkenny Ross Farrar
10 Mar 2017 17:01

It's been my experience that people who've struggled with grief or depression tend to love and appreciate the later seasons, and those who haven't tend to find them too heavy and wish the show had stayed in High School Again, Buffy also dealt with grief and depression in the early Seasons.


vanjam Apple22over7
11 Mar 2017 1:27

Agreed. The perennial dispute for Buffy fans, early seasons v the later years. For me it's always the former and they are what make the show Buffy, The writers are at the tip of their game and no complacency has set in and it has the best cast. Anecdotally in my experience people who watched from the start and followed the show through its run prefer the earlier years and my friends who came to the show later or did not watch the show sequentially prefer later seasons. * The writers were better later and there was never complacency. BtVS S1 isn’t better written than BtVS S7. BtVS S2 has 10 great episodes and the Oz one is good. BtVS S3 is solid but so is BtVS S5 and BtVS S6 (BtVS S7 is solid when one can binge). BtVS S4 has some great episodes.


* David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter were bad actors in BtVS S1-BtVS S3. Michelle Trachtenberg was good by BtVS S7 (and much of hers ‘bad acting’ is due to how the character is written in BtVS S5 and BtVS S6). Marc Blucas was bad as Riley.

- The rest is simply personal preference. Emma Caulfield is a better actor than CC, but CC is better looking. Liking David Boreanaz over James Marsters is almost certainly because one prefers Buffy/Angel to Buffy/Spike and/or simply considers DB better looking than JM. Oz vs. Tara is personal preference.


* In my experience, those who began watching in the “UPN years” tend to favor Buffy/Spike to Buffy/Angel but that could partly be because many of those probably always wanted Buffy/Spike.


vanjam nkenny
11 Mar 2017 1:34

I think Buffy in "Anne" is a more effective depiction of depression. She references killing Angel in season 7 and she was at such a low ebb she ran away from home and from her calling. As a whole I find 6 & 7 dull and derivative rather than dark and I don't think fiction gets darker than a girl killing the person she loves and feeling responsible for the destruction he unleashed. The writers and actors also felt they were serving their time or phoning it in, as happens with a lot of long running shoes. Buffy was gone the summer after BtVS S1. Buffy was having ‘issues’ and was depressed during that summer. Buffy in “The Gift” (B 5.22) probably wouldn’t have sacrificed herself if Joyce were alive. First Joyce. Buffy was “suicidally depressed” in BtVS S6 (until sometime during “Gone” (B 6.11). Buffy never moved on from Spike.

Angel’s death wasn’t the worst thing that happened to Buffy; Buffy ran away from home because she was kicked out of school, was kicked out of her home, and she was a wanted fugitive (for murder, resisting arrest, and the assault and battery of a police officer).

Faith’s story is probably darker than Buffy’s. Willow literally tries to destroy the world after Tara is accidentally killed and Buffy is almost killed. Drusilla’s story is darker than Buffy’s. Spike’s story is darker than Buffy’s.

HardlyThere
27-04-17, 04:57 PM
Most of the complaints about the latter years seem tenuous to me. Not to dismiss a person's personal opinion on them, but most of the reasons given are nebulous crap and most of the time they were largely the point of it. The actors "phoning it in" for example. Buffy's in a place where she's emotionally numb and that's what is portrayed on screen. It comes off as fake because it is. I'm not sure how one can watch the breakdown scenes in DT and say they weren't there for it when it was called for it.

Same deal with the magic=drugs stuff and the Potentials. You'd think these things occupied 90% of the screentime by the complaints.

a thing of evil
27-04-17, 08:28 PM
I'm a shameless season 4 stan but High School Buffy IS Buffy. It's when the show was at its most popular, zeitgeist-y and consistently well written. Mid to late season 2 is just ridiculous, rivaled in sheer quality by late season 3 only. The problem with later years isn't the tone or subject matters, it's the the writing just isn't as good as it used to.

TimeTravellingBunny
27-04-17, 09:21 PM
I'm a shameless season 4 stan but High School Buffy IS Buffy. It's when the show was at its most popular,
Was it? What do you base that statement on?


zeitgeist-y
How?


and consistently well written.
Really?

About half of season 1, particularly Teacher's Pet, I Robot, You Jane, and the (lack of) follow-up to Jesse's death, plus Some Assembly Required, Reptile Boy, Go Fish... say hi.

a thing of evil
28-04-17, 12:12 AM
Ratings. More people watched high school seasons so BtVS was at its most popular during high school seasons. Also, really, you're gonna cherry pick? :lol:

TimeTravellingBunny
28-04-17, 05:50 PM
Ratings. More people watched high school seasons so BtVS was at its most popular during high school seasons. Also, really, you're gonna cherry pick? :lol:
Well, if we're going by Nielsen ratings, that famously (un)reliable measure of popularity in pop culture (I could find them here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer#U.S._television_ratings) and here (http://buffy-boards.com/threads/nielsen-ratings-for-buffy-and-angel-and-other-wb-shows.18063/)), that's not exactly true, since season 1 was the lowest rated of all seasons. It was seasons 2 and especially 3 that were the highest rated. But the ratings for seasons 4, 5 and 6 don't seem bad either. And what's interesting is that, while seasons 2 and 3 are shown to have had higher numbers of viewers, seasons 4-6 are higher on the list of most watched shows (120 and 124 as opposed to 133). I wonder what the reason was, was there some overall drop in TV viewers of TV shows, or if there's something else.

Incidentally, the funniest thing about seeing these ratings is that if a show had these viewer numbers today, it would be considered a massive hit and probably be in top 10 shows with best ratinggs. These days the Nielsen ratings are pathetic for all shows. I guess that's what the advancement of streaming, illegal downloading, DVD etc. does.

HardlyThere
28-04-17, 08:28 PM
Nielson has never been terribly reliable, but it was the best they had at the time. The rating is an extrapolation based on the number of TV households, not necessarily the number of viewers. How many households in the US have 1 TV?

Still, I wouldn't argue S1-S3 aren't the most popular overall. Hell, the reason the WB didn't bother renewing or trying to match UPN's offer was it wasn't their big show anymore. Public consensus doesn't equal quality, though. S3 is one of the most overrated seasons of TV ever if you ask me.

TimeTravellingBunny
28-04-17, 08:41 PM
Nielson has never been terribly reliable, but it was the best they had at the time. The rating is an extrapolation based on the number of TV households, not necessarily the number of viewers. How many households in the US have 1 TV?

Still, I wouldn't argue S1-S3 aren't the most popular overall. Hell, the reason the WB didn't bother renewing or trying to match UPN's offer was it wasn't their big show anymore. Public consensus doesn't equal quality, though. S3 is one of the most overrated seasons of TV ever if you ask me.
Was it ever that big of a show? Number 133 out of all shows by Nielsen ratings (its rank during seasons 2 and 3, apparently) doesn't sound like a mainstream hit.

I do think season 3 is overrated as far as BtVS seasons go - it's only my 4th favourite BtVS season - but I wouldn't go that far to say it's one of the most overrated TV seasons ever. It's still a very strong season, and there are so many crappy, overrated shows out there.

HardlyThere
29-04-17, 03:13 AM
It was on the WB, a fledgling network that didn't have the market exposure of the Big 4. It takes years to reach that. Fox arguably still hadn't achieved it by then. What's more, its demo was the YA (ie second TV) audience. Then of course came the cable explosion and then alternate media. It's pretty well accepted, I think, that if Buffy aired anywhere but the WB, it would have failed immediately. That's not a statement of the show, of course. The same is said for Breaking Bad. In terms of popularity, though, it's hard to argue that it didn't lose it's audience as it went on. So comparing it to itself, the latter seems less loved. Maybe if it aired today, that would be different. I think 4-7 were before their times in terms of long narratives. Nowadays they're in vogue. Perhaps that's why they seem more popular now in fandom. I think part of the (slightly) renewed success of AtS S5 was the network forcing them to go back to more episodic stories.

UPN actually had fewer markets than WB. I will forever hold them accountable for at least some of the S6 ratings slide. They clearly had NO idea what they bought (same with Roswell). Their promos were dreadful and seemed to actually be mocking it, especially S7.

I'd agree about S3, but many crappy overrated shows have 1 or 2 great seasons. My beef is not that it's horrible or anything, but that it's commonly seen as the pinnacle of BTVS while exhibiting every single flaw of the seasons people tear down with very little of the strength.

BuffyBreakdancer
03-09-17, 05:46 PM
I'm a shameless season 4 stan but High School Buffy IS Buffy. It's when the show was at its most popular, zeitgeist-y and consistently well written. Mid to late season 2 is just ridiculous, rivaled in sheer quality by late season 3 only. The problem with later years isn't the tone or subject matters, it's the the writing just isn't as good as it used to.

I agree with you completely. I watch a lot of TV, and Buffy was one of those shows that I ignored as a kid because I wasn't into fantasy/horror. I had no idea that there was a lot more to the show than just slaying vampires. Through out the years,many people have told me I should watch Buffy, but I never got around to it until this year.

I went into it expecting to be bored 20 minutes in. I mean, I'm way past high school now, and hardly the target audience. And BTVS is definitely not my preferred genre either (I prefer sci-fi). And yet, the snappy dialogue and interesting characters kept me watching all the way until season 4. Buffy had so much heart. But as the seasons progressed, I started getting more and more bored while watching Buffy. And I think the writing did slowly, and subtly start to shift. There were less quotables and one liners I would find myself laughing at. More and more, little things stopped making sense. Like how Buffy even got into college when she's barely paying attention in school. It would have made more sense if Xander had gotten into college than Buffy! I also felt like willow's sweet personality started to change. Xander went from being someone with a lot of insecurities to an all-out loser. And Buffy, well, Buffy became kinda boring.

I lost interest in the show when they became adults. But that's just me. Clearly a lot of you enjoyed those later years as well, and I've often thought of starting Buffy again from the season where I left off. But then I remember how many episodes I powered through, hoping things would get better, even as I got more and more bored and frustrated with the whole thing. So yeah, those are my thoughts as a fan who grew up in the 90's and is the right age to get all those references, but watched Buffy as an adult.

KingofCretins
03-09-17, 10:43 PM
Well, if we're going by Nielsen ratings, that famously (un)reliable measure of popularity in pop culture (I could find them here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer#U.S._television_ratings) and here (http://buffy-boards.com/threads/nielsen-ratings-for-buffy-and-angel-and-other-wb-shows.18063/)), that's not exactly true, since season 1 was the lowest rated of all seasons. It was seasons 2 and especially 3 that were the highest rated. But the ratings for seasons 4, 5 and 6 don't seem bad either. And what's interesting is that, while seasons 2 and 3 are shown to have had higher numbers of viewers, seasons 4-6 are higher on the list of most watched shows (120 and 124 as opposed to 133). I wonder what the reason was, was there some overall drop in TV viewers of TV shows, or if there's something else.

Incidentally, the funniest thing about seeing these ratings is that if a show had these viewer numbers today, it would be considered a massive hit and probably be in top 10 shows with best ratinggs. These days the Nielsen ratings are pathetic for all shows. I guess that's what the advancement of streaming, illegal downloading, DVD etc. does.

Let me know when anyone -- then or now -- ever said "well, hey, our Nielson ratings lead is misleading, we might not be this popular".

Yes, Seasons 2 and 3 were the most popular and highest 'awareness' in the general population. I remember being a Buffy MOVIE purist who didn't give the show much of a chance, hearing terrestrial radio adverts for the show, and some trauma the Slayer was having about something named Angel (weird), it had the widest reach back then. Moving to UPN was a spiral of sorts because UPN reached fewer households, so the available pool of viewers went down as well.

TimeTravellingBunny
03-09-17, 11:01 PM
Let me know when anyone -- then or now -- ever said "well, hey, our Nielson ratings lead is misleading, we might not be this popular".

I can easily point you to the opposite: shows that people who believe that Nielsen ratings as the only and most important criteria have predicted would definitely be cancelled, but instead they get renewed year to year - because the networks know better and are clearly considering them profitable. It's usually because those shows actually have considerable success in terms of selayed viewing, streaming, DVD and the international market. Like, for instance, Agents of SHIELD, which had mediocre to poor Nielsen ratings for most of its run and particularly poor live Nielsen ratings last season after it seitched to 10 p.m., but at the same time not only was one of the shows with best delayed viewing ratings (usually doubling its viewership if those who prefer not to watch on Tuesday late night are counted) but also was on a list of top 20 most popular shows that was compiled by taking into account things like streaming, downloads and online buzz, and has a considerable international popularity (including being popular enough in China to land its stars Chinese TV commercials for Coca Cola). It got renewed for season 4 in spite of the fact that its budget can't be small considering the special effects they feature, even though its live ratings weren't much better than the Alan Tudyk comedy Powerless, which got quickly cancelled.

a thing of evil
04-09-17, 09:14 PM
And Buffy, well, Buffy became kinda boring.

In my opinion the problem with Buffy is that, the writers don't really know what to do with her in the later years. In season 5 she gets Dawn and, like, stops having a life of her own. Then you get season 6 and it's not even her story anymore, she becomes a supporting character in her own show. And in season 7 she's basically insufferable, it's Spike, bleh and more Spike.


So yeah, those are my thoughts as a fan who grew up in the 90's and is the right age to get all those references, but watched Buffy as an adult.

Yeah, my situation is similar, I did watch some Buffy as a teenager in the 90s but I watched the entire thing later, as an adult. It's like the show started to lose its steam the moment 90s ended. Maybe it was the cultural change that suddenly made BtVS so not fun? Osama ruined Buffy lmao.

Andrew S.
02-10-17, 01:05 AM
In my opinion the problem with Buffy is that, the writers don't really know what to do with her in the later years. In season 5 she gets Dawn and, like, stops having a life of her own. Then you get season 6 and it's not even her story anymore, she becomes a supporting character in her own show. And in season 7 she's basically insufferable, it's Spike, bleh and more Spike.

I agree with you on Season 7, but Season 6? How did you figure it wasn't her story anymore? Buffy's resurrection and depressing arc drove most of the season's storylines -- Giles leaving, the Buffy/Spike relationship, Willow's dependency on magic increasing, Spike getting a soul.

While I never watched the show while it originally aired, from what I've seen, the high school seasons were (and still are) more beloved. The earlier seasons (Seasons 2 and 3) are universally beloved by fans, whereas the later ones are more divisive. Season 6 gets a lot of hate on the Buffy-boards forums, and Seasons 5-7 were torn to shreds by fans of the show on the old Television Without Pity forums and recaps. I've also seen plenty of people on Reddit and IMDb forums, YouTube/Facebook comments who dislike the later seasons (as well as love them). While there are lots of fans who consider the later seasons better than the earlier ones (like I said, they're divisive), I rarely see people who flat-out dislike Seasons 2-3 the way many do Seasons 6-7.

Speaking for myself, I think the show was at its best during Seasons 2-5. Season 6 was pretty mixed for me, and I flat-out dislike Season 7, so you could definitely say I prefer the early seasons. However, I think the love the high school seasons get is a tad overrated. When high school season-lovers include Season 1 among the show's best seasons, I have a hard time taking them seriously. I think a lot of fans are blinded by nostalgia sometimes, and a lot of people just pick on the later seasons just to pick on them. Again, I wasn't even watching the show, let alone a part of the fandom, when it was originally airing, but it seems to me that Seasons 6-7 got a lot more popular in the years after the show ended. The later seasons of Buffy (and especially Angel) were kind of ahead of their time in the way the used longform, increasingly serialized storytelling on network television. Seasons 5-7 (and Seasons 2-4 of Angel) are much better when bingewatched through DVDs/streaming than I imagine they were when watching on a week-to-week basis. I love Season 5, but I don't watch it as much as Seasons 2-4 simply because it's more of an arc-y season that takes commitment whereas they are many more standalones in Seasons 1-4.

a thing of evil
02-10-17, 11:26 AM
I agree with you on Season 7, but Season 6? How did you figure it wasn't her story anymore?

I don't think Buffy's the protagonist in season 6. What's a protagonist? Protagonist is the character that defeats the antagonist. Buffy doesn't defeat Warren. Alternatively, protagonist is the character that makes the most important decisions in a story. Buffy doesn't make any important decisions in season 6. In fact, she becomes so irrelevant in the finale that she might as well not be there, not much would've changed. Look at season 1. Who defeats the antagonist? Buffy. Who makes the most important decisions? Again, Buffy. She decides to face the Master, she decides to fight the forces of darkness and so on. And you can't take her out of the finale, it would've changed everything. Or season 5. Who defeats the antagonist? It's a group thing, of course, but Buffy is a part of it. Who makes the most important decisions? Again, Buffy. She decides to protect Dawn. She decides to die. You can't take her out of the finale.

Vampire in Rug
02-10-17, 12:41 PM
From dictionary.com

[proh-tag-uh-nist]
noun
the leading character, hero, or heroine of a drama or other literary work.

Nothing there about being the one to personally defeat the antagonist.

TimeTravellingBunny
02-10-17, 01:24 PM
From dictionary.com

[proh-tag-uh-nist]
noun
the leading character, hero, or heroine of a drama or other literary work.

Nothing there about being the one to personally defeat the antagonist.
What, you mean there's more to fiction than a simple story where a hero defeats the villain? There may be stories where the hero does not kill the villain, stories where the hero does not triumph, stories where the antagonist is not defeated at all, stories where the protagonist is the villain, atories with no antagonists, etc.? Well, I'm shocked! ;)

Let's also take a moment to acknowledge the fact that, by ATOE's logic, Angel the series never had a protagonist, except for season 4, when that protagonist was Connor. The main antagonists for most of the show were Wolfram and Hart and/or the Senior Partners; do they ever actually get defeated on the show? No. The exceptions are season 3, when the main antagonist is Holtz, who definitely never gets defeated - he pulls off his plan and gets exactly what he wanted; and season 4, where Jasmine is the main antagonist, and she is only definitely defeated when Connor kills her.

Stoney
02-10-17, 01:39 PM
Buffy's ownership of her life and her choice to be the slayer is a constant point of progression for her. At the start of S6 she fights her way out of the ground for air, prompted by something others have instigated. At the end of the season she chooses to leave the earth with Dawn to live and be a part of the world. The start is instinctual and reactionary and by the end of the season she is wanting to interact and proactively chooses to rejoin the world. I think that is a pretty big decision that she progresses to in the season.

Andrew S.
02-10-17, 08:43 PM
If you take into account the "Life is the Big Bad" message the writers were trying to sell during Season 6, then technically Buffy *did* defeat the antagonist by overcoming her depression and learning to want to live in the world again.

a thing of evil
03-10-17, 09:09 PM
If you take into account the "Life is the Big Bad" message the writers were trying to sell during Season 6, then technically Buffy *did* defeat the antagonist by overcoming her depression and learning to want to live in the world again.

I don't take it into account. It's not in the show. Life didn't try to kill Buffy for most of the season, one nerd (and his friends) did and she did not defeat him.

Vampire in Rug
04-10-17, 02:35 AM
(a) a character does not need to personally defeat the antagonist in order to be a protagonist. That is just a dumb idea, full stop. There are plenty of protagonists in fiction who don't win, or who turn out to be the villain, or whose nemesis gets killed by a side character etc.

Worth mentioning that Buffy didn't land the killing blow against the Mayor or Glory -Giles killed both. Was Giles the true protagonist of seasons three and five? Xander talked down Dark Willow whom many consider to be the true big bad of season six as opposed to Warren. Also been mentioned, Angel has personally defeated very few of his big bads in his show, that doesn't mean he's not the protagonist.

(b) Buffy didhand Warren and his buddies several defeats over the course of season six. When all these minor defeats stacked up, that's what caused Warren to go berserk and try to kill Buffy with a gun. She'd been constantly undermining and humiliating him over the course of the season.

(c) Warren's role in the story dictated that he was never meant to be defeated in a grand fashion by Buffy. He's not the Master or Angelus where the whole season is building towards a physical confrontation. Warren's most important role was to be a carylist for Willow turning dark. Warren wasn't even really the big bad.

(d) if you want to get technical, Buffy did end up killing Warren for good when she broke the Seed of Wonder in season 8. According to the canon, Buffy gave Warren a much more final death than Willow did, although at this point in the discussion we have well and truly strayed away from season six.

GoSpuffy
29-12-17, 04:19 AM
The later years for me. Partly because I was an adult when it was on TV so I could identify better with the characters. More importantly it's because what I love most about the show is the character development. By the time the later years were filmed I was completely invested in the show.

myth-taken
10-01-18, 12:59 AM
I like the high school years. Season 3 is my favorite season overall. But I absolutely recognize the art and beauty of the later seasons, and I'm sure that as I get older, my thoughts will change. Right now I'm 18 and in my freshman year of college, and I watched Buffy for the first time at 16 and in my junior year of high school (so, same age as Buffy in season 2). When I got into my senior year, it was really fun to watch Buffy s2 and say "I'm older than them now." And now I can look at s4 and say "They're my age." It's really nice, actually, because I can use the show to get me through milestones in my life; the day before I went to college, I watched The Freshman because I was having so much anxiety about it. (Tragically, s4, which is the most relevant to my current life, is also not the best season out there...)

Silver1
10-01-18, 09:57 AM
I like both, but If pushed I found the later episodes more engaging overall.

Priceless
10-01-18, 11:37 AM
I love all of Buffy, S1 - S11, but S6 & 7 are my favourites. I love the cohesion of those two seasons, the themes resonate with me, perhaps because I'm older, and of course I'm completely invested in the Spuffy relationship during those season :)

Silver1
10-01-18, 11:39 AM
Yeah, I have to admit the whole Spike 'thing' gets my extra attention too. :D

Sosa lola
10-01-18, 02:06 PM
I'm like that as well. I enjoy watching the high school years more because Xander receives more attention then, but I prefer reading Xander fics during the later years more. Overall, I enjoy fanfics more during S6 and S7.