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Thread: Best season for each character

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    Smile Best season for each character

    What's your favorite/best season for each character, in terms of storylines/development/entertainment?

    Buffy
    Season 5. Buffy was never more badass than she was this season. I enjoyed the emphasis this season had on Buffy's relationship with her family/her ties to humanity. I loved the way Dawn was introduced, and the effect she had on Buffy's character. Dawn's entrance really shook things up, kept the show fresh and really caused Buffy to grow up, along with the death of Joyce. I liked the way Glory was used as a contrast to Buffy, her selfishness and complete disregard for humanity juxtaposed with Buffy's increasing selflessness and determination to maintain her own humanity. This season was the most we got of Buffy being single, which was always a plus for me. Buffy's romances never really did much for me, aside from early Bangel. And when it comes down to it, I feel this season showed Buffy at her most mature. I've never really understood the writers saying that Season 6 was about the characters growing up. Most of the characters did their most growing in Season 5, especially Buffy.

    Runner-up: Season 2.

    Willow
    Season 4. She blossoms so much this season, and this is where she essentially became the series' second lead. Her confidence expanded greatly, her use of magic hadn't completely taken over her storyline yet, and we got a little bit of her and Oz.

    Xander
    Season 2. Xander was never funnier or complex than he was in Season 2. I'm no Bander fan, but I loved the extreme closeness/borderline sexual tension between him and Buffy, he and Willow actually acted like best friends and I loved his relationship with Cordelia.

    Giles
    Season 2. Giles was never more likeable or more interesting than he was in Season 2. The Angelus arc gave him nearly as much to do as it did for Buffy, I loved his relationship with Jenny, I loved the growing closeness between him and Buffy and seeing him blossom from the somewhat two-dimensional, stuffy Watcher and into Buffy's father figure.

    Angel
    Season 2. The moment he went evil is when this show became great television, and was the best storyline the series ever did, IMO. It also helped that David Boreanaz finally learned to act.

    Spike
    Season 5. Spike went from being a highly entertaining side character to a character just as interesting and three-dimensional as the core characters themselves, without taking over the show the way he eventually did. He was consistently funny, compelling and heartwarming, and the Buffy/Spike dynamic was at its best here as well.

    Cordelia
    Season 2. She got the most to do here, and her dynamic with each of the Scoobies is one of my favorites in the whole series.

    Oz
    Season 4. It's a damn shame Seth Green left just as his character was getting more and more interesting.

    Anya
    Season 5. Another one of Season 5's strengths is that the ancillary Scooby characters like Anya, Tara and Spike got to come into their own. Anya started working at the Magic Box, resulting in her getting more screen time, the audience getting to see how genuine her feelings for Xander were and more interactions between her and Giles.

    Tara
    Season 6. She finally grew a backbone. 'Nuff said.

    Dawn
    Season 5. I talked about this a little bit in the Season 6 rewatch thread. She shook up the show a great deal, brought a huge emotional impact to the series that it lacked in Seasons 3-4 and brought out different, more mature sides of every single character, in addition to being pretty complex on her own. I love the Dawnster, and I remain bitter that Seasons 6-7 didn't more with her.

    Faith
    I know she wasn't a main character, but Faith is too cool for me not to include her. Shame on Entertainment Weekly for not inviting Eliza Dushku to the reunion! To be honest, I preferred Faith on Angel though. I got sick of the heavy-handed "She's Buffy, but dark! GET IT??!" mantra the writers kept giving us in Season 3, and the writing for her was extremely disappointing in Season 7. Her "This Year's Girl"/"Who Are You?" two-parter saved Season 4 from its mid-season slump, so I guess I'll say that's her best season. Or Season 8. I don't really consider the comics canon, but the Season 8 Faith material was top-notch.

    Anyway... what do you guys think?

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    What I love about the show most of all is that the stories are progressive for the characters, that we watch them grow, for better and worse, and then carry on. So I'd hate to imagine losing any of the later development for any of them, their complete paths are what offers the best character depth you can get out of the show imo. Spike is the prime example. He's my favourite character and I love his whole arc and find his story incredibly coherent across the show (and onwards through AtS and the comics). I'd have hated for his story to have ended earlier and so when I think of the character I think of his entire path/progression. Otherwise it falls in line with favourite seasons generally I suppose. I love season 6 and 5 the most, so there are plenty of episodes in both of those that are top ones for different characters for me and have top moments in terms of storylines, points of development and entertainment. But then I tend to think of S7 as very much the second half of S6, it is the balancing follow on from all the angst. So yeah, you lose depth of characterisation for most before then and I'd hate for them to have been reduced.

    The exception I'd say is Giles perhaps whose absence from S6 onwards feels somewhat forced (as it was of course). I would say I prefer him up to S5 just because he is a more 'present' character then. But then I think of some of the logic in his break away from the parental figure role and his lack of connection from S4 rearing/deepening for him and I don't want to lose where the show took him entirely, if you see what I mean. I can think of specific character stages in earlier seasons generally as ones I think were key stages, for example S4 as a significant point of progress for Xander, but that just makes me think of where he went on to after that and I wouldn't want to label his 'best' period as one where he had less development/depth.

    And when it comes down to it, I feel this season showed Buffy at her most mature. I've never really understood the writers saying that Season 6 was about the characters growing up. Most of the characters did their most growing in Season 5, especially Buffy.
    Well unsurprisingly from what I've already said, I disagree on this. Buffy learned how she can struggle and fail in S6 in a way she hadn't faced before and I think going through that and coming out the other side made her stronger in S7. Using what you have been through like that is a huge part of growing up and maturing that she and the other characters hadn't faced to the same extent before.

    Or Season 8. I don't really consider the comics canon, but the Season 8 Faith material was top-notch.
    Well obviously the comics are canon even if they aren't your personal canon, but I do 'get' feeling a strong distinction between the two mediums. I love that we have a continuation of the story and I can see a through line from the show to where the comics have taken the different characters and continue to love getting to 'see' their progression. But it isn't the same as getting the live show. I couldn't place S11 above the tv show seasons if I was ordering them, but at the same time I wouldn't want to cut off where they have gotten to and dismiss them. Faith, Xander and Dawn have all progressed in ways I've found strengthened my like of their characters and gave me greater appreciation of them in the tv show rewatches. Both Buffy and Spike have also moved on progressively too and I can't dismiss those developments as not being as good because that is where they are and I adore that these characters keep changing and growing.
    Last edited by Stoney; 02-10-17 at 03:18 AM.

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    Anya's best season is definitely 7, if I were to pick one season. That's when the show finally stopped treating her as just a comedy character and remembered her history of murder and realized this is a bit of a problem, and should perhaps be treated seriously the way it does when it comes to Angel or Spike (thank you, Drew Goddard). It's also when she finally started exploring what it means to be human without being defined by her relationship with Xander.

    Spike's best season isn't easy to pick, since he's growing throughout 5, 6 and 7...It just definitely isn't season 4. Sometimes it's easier to pick what is the least satisfying season in terms of arc. (For Buffy, it's season 3 - I don't think she gets any real character development with any satisfying resolution, she seems stuck in a rut.)

    Willow gets a lot of development in season 4, but in terms of real character exploration...sorry, it has to be season 6. Character development is not just positive development or characters doing good things. (Season 6 also explores Buffy and Spike beyond what season 5 did.)
    You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    What I love about the show most of all is that the stories are progressive for the characters, that we watch them grow, for better and worse, and then carry on. So I'd hate to imagine losing any of the later development for any of them, their complete paths are what offers the best character depth you can get out of the show imo. Spike is the prime example. He's my favourite character and I love his whole arc and find his story incredibly coherent across the show (and onwards through AtS and the comics). I'd have hated for his story to have ended earlier and so when I think of the character I think of his entire path/progression. Otherwise it falls in line with favourite seasons generally I suppose. I love season 6 and 5 the most, so there are plenty of episodes in both of those that are top ones for different characters for me and have top moments in terms of storylines, points of development and entertainment. But then I tend to think of S7 as very much the second half of S6, it is the balancing follow on from all the angst. So yeah, you lose depth of characterisation for most before then and I'd hate for them to have been reduced.
    I agree that the best thing about the series is seeing the longterm development of the characters. Don't get me wrong. Season 5-Buffy was my favorite Buffy, yes, but that doesn't mean I disregard the rest of her development and I still enjoy her in all of the other seasons (except for most of Season 7). I really enjoyed in Spike in Seasons 2-5. I didn't really enjoy him that much in Seasons 6-7 as I thought he was way too overused, but even then, his development was still solid and pretty organic. And he was just sort of "there" for me in Angel Season 5. He was awesome in Season 8, though. While not a favorite of mine, I consider him one of the show's most interesting characters and Marsters one of the best actors.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    The exception I'd say is Giles perhaps whose absence from S6 onwards feels somewhat forced (as it was of course). I would say I prefer him up to S5 just because he is a more 'present' character then. But then I think of some of the logic in his break away from the parental figure role and his lack of connection from S4 rearing/deepening for him and I don't want to lose where the show took him entirely, if you see what I mean. I can think of specific character stages in earlier seasons generally as ones I think were key stages, for example S4 as a significant point of progress for Xander, but that just makes me think of where he went on to after that and I wouldn't want to label his 'best' period as one where he had less development/depth.
    I see your point. And I agree with you on Giles. Tony Head was the best actor on the show, IMO, which was a detriment to his character. He could literally sell anything the writers gave him to do, and they seemed to know that, which resulted in much sloppier writing for his character than the others, I think. They knew he could make anything believable, so they didn't really try that hard to make all of Giles's actions sensible. "Giles leaving Buffy in Season 6 doesn't make any sense, but Tony will sell it!", "Giles is actually like an absolute prick in Season 7 for no reason, but Tony will sell it!" Unpopular opinion, but I never liked the Ripper aspect of his character. Giles was so stuffy and uncool in the first two seasons that it never really made sense that he had this secret badass persona underneath the whole time. There are so many times where Jenny Calendar would so obviously flirt with him and he would be too flustered/nervous/socially awkward/shy to do anything about it. He could be sexy and Hugh Hefner-like around Joyce and Olivia, but had no idea what to do with himself around Jenny. Didn't make sense.

    I ranked the characters' best seasons based on how enjoyable they were more than anything else. Season 2 was such a standout season for Giles and Xander. The Buffy-Giles dynamic was at its strongest for me, and Giles got a lot of emotional material that year. The Buffy-Giles at the end of "Lie to Me", his speech to Buffy at the end of "Innocence", ALL of "Passion". I adored Giles/Jenny too.

    When I said Xander was most complex during Season 2, I meant in terms of the range he showed. Season 2-Xander was consistently hilarious, infuriating, heartwarming and heroic, being able to bring a variety of reactions out of me, often during the same episodes. In "When She Was Bad" for instance, Xander was funny ("A bitca?"), sympathetic (when Buffy did the sexy dance of torture), infuriating ("If they hurt Willow, I'll kill you!") and sensitive (knowing Buffy needed to smash The Master's bones to get over her trauma, saving her a seat with him and Willow). There are so many episodes that season where Xander gets a hell out of a lot to do. Same to a lesser extent in Season 3. But in Seasons 5-7, his screen time was reduced and he was more just the goofy comic relief than anything else, with only the occasional heartwarming or frustrating moment. Didn't Whedon or someone even tell Nick Brendon that his character was "done developing" or something like that? But still, even though I wish he had gotten more to do later on, Xander is still one of my favorite characters in the series and I enjoy his character from beginning to end. He's the most realistic and in-depth portrayal of a teenage boy I've ever seen on television.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    Well unsurprisingly from what I've already said, I disagree on this. Buffy learned how she can struggle and fail in S6 in a way she hadn't faced before and I think going through that and coming out the other side made her stronger in S7. Using what you have been through like that is a huge part of growing up and maturing that she and the other characters hadn't faced to the same extent before.
    To me, Buffy was at her most immature during Season 7. My biggest beef with Season 7 (the worst season, IMO) was that it failed to follow through on what "Grave" promised the audience. In Season 7, Buffy didn't strike me as someone who had matured, learned from her past mistakes and "wanted to see her friends happy again" and "show Dawn the world". The Buffy I saw in Season 7 was much colder and didn't seem to give a damn about anyone but Spike. One of my favorite themes of the series was the You're Not Alone message it had and how it was constantly reinforced that the reason Buffy had made it so far was because of her friends. Instead, what we got in Season 7 was more Slayer isolationist crap, as Wood so aptly put it, the writers coming up with increasingly contrived reasons to separate Buffy from her friends, who were sidelined in favor of Spike, and Buffy saying stuff like "Spike is the only one watching my back" after Xander had just lost an EYE for her. Don't even get me started on her terrible attitude towards Faith when she came back. A bitchier version of Buffy would have been enjoyable for me if the narrative had actually acknowledged her unlikeable behavior more, but unfortunately it didn't, and in retrospect, Season 7 made Season 6 look weaker as a result. I did love "Chosen" though, and thought it was a fitting end for the series. It was messy and full of plot holes, yes, and there was a bit too much shipper pandering, but Buffy actually felt like *Buffy* for the first time in a while during that episode.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    Well obviously the comics are canon even if they aren't your personal canon, but I do 'get' feeling a strong distinction between the two mediums. I love that we have a continuation of the story and I can see a through line from the show to where the comics have taken the different characters and continue to love getting to 'see' their progression. But it isn't the same as getting the live show. I couldn't place S11 above the tv show seasons if I was ordering them, but at the same time I wouldn't want to cut off where they have gotten to and dismiss them. Faith, Xander and Dawn have all progressed in ways I've found strengthened my like of their characters and gave me greater appreciation of them in the tv show rewatches. Both Buffy and Spike have also moved on progressively too and I can't dismiss those developments as not being as good because that is where they are and I adore that these characters keep changing and growing.
    I enjoyed Season 8 a great deal. I mean, it went off the rails a little bit toward the end, but it was still really good to me. The characters felt like the characters, the writing was complex and layered and the first half of the season was as good as anything on the TV show. It was even better than Season 7, in my opinion. Like you, I also got more appreciation of the same characters you mentioned while reading it. Season 9, however, was so terrible that it killed all of my remaining interest in the comics. I haven't read Season 10 or 11, but I still keep semi-track of what's going on. I read a couple of The High School Years comics, which were cute but nothing truly great. To me, the comics feel like little more than a licensed cash-in by this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTravellingBunny
    Anya's best season is definitely 7, if I were to pick one season. That's when the show finally stopped treating her as just a comedy character and remembered her history of murder and realized this is a bit of a problem, and should perhaps be treated seriously the way it does when it comes to Angel or Spike (thank you, Drew Goddard). It's also when she finally started exploring what it means to be human without being defined by her relationship with Xander.
    I remember watching "Selfless" (a favorite episode of mine) for the first time and being really excited to see what was in store for Anya during Season 7. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be much, despite the rather promising start. Aside from a handful of nice moments through the season and a fitting death in "Chosen", she did practically nothing.

    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTravellingBunny
    Willow gets a lot of development in season 4, but in terms of real character exploration...sorry, it has to be season 6. Character development is not just positive development or characters doing good things. (Season 6 also explores Buffy and Spike beyond what season 5 did.)
    I enjoy a good-character-goes-bad plotline, but Willow's Season 6 arc felt less like character exploration and more like character assassination to me. Her motivations seemed to change every few episodes. I do love Buffy's Season 6 arc though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S. View Post
    I agree that the best thing about the series is seeing the longterm development of the characters. Don't get me wrong. Season 5-Buffy was my favorite Buffy, yes, but that doesn't mean I disregard the rest of her development and I still enjoy her in all of the other seasons (except for most of Season 7). I really enjoyed in Spike in Seasons 2-5. I didn't really enjoy him that much in Seasons 6-7 as I thought he was way too overused, but even then, his development was still solid and pretty organic. And he was just sort of "there" for me in Angel Season 5. He was awesome in Season 8, though. While not a favorite of mine, I consider him one of the show's most interesting characters and Marsters one of the best actors.
    I love Spike through the whole series but 6-7 are my favourites of the show because they are the culmination of the path he was on and it just works so damn well. I love that he wasn't a planned character but you can look back and view his behaviour/actions in light of where he went and it works so well. His backstory really drew layers out that add such depth to it all. Needless to say I didn't think he was overused in the later seasons, his arc supported, reflected, mirrored Buffy's and Willow's and they all worked brilliantly together I felt. Buffy in S7 did pull away from her friends somewhat but, for me, that is another realistic stage of growing up, when your friends start getting pushed to one side for your relationships. It just worked really well for me, particularly with Buffy/Spike. The way the abuse of power in S6 was followed with strengthening and supporting each other positively in S7 and without that abusive physical aspect but gentle care instead was a great follow up I thought. The same was touched on too between Willow and Buffy but it had a different feel and different successes and failures to it which again worked for me as it was their individual dynamic going through shifts as well.

    I just find it too tough to look at an earlier season as 'the best' for a character when they move on from it. I do know what you are saying, that you still can see/appreciate onward development and enjoy the characters afterwards, but still have an earlier favourite season. I just can't make myself do it. Every time I start to think of the best parts of an earlier season, how I loved stage 'x' for a character it just makes me think about what came next and then I'm mentally two seasons further on and am still not stopping. I'm just being useless for the thread purpose I'm afraid.

    I'm not sure ASH was the best actor, but he is cool and I agree they kept shifting the character too much really. I have specifically been trying to make some sense of his journey during the rewatch because I, like you, found his early seasons somewhat disconnected from his later characterisation and the Ripper personality a total disconnect from how he was introduced. The explanations that I have been drawing from the conversations is that his reactions to his youthful out of control behaviour, his worries about the draw and dangers of the magic etc., was to over compensate and try to reinvent himself as the person he could have been, maybe wishes he had been, or was perhaps who he was expected to have become by family and the council. It is a somewhat false/created persona, his 'work' self/uniform. His responses to Buffy's death and his own emotional fallout from it is to try to avoid being there for if it happens again. It is all a bit messy and creates somewhat incoherent behaviour but the coherency comes from him trying to control/manage himself and his responses to things he can't control. It is looking for a logic of course, obviously I acknowledge that, but I like to try and make an overall sense from what we got and it is starting to make a little more sense to me in considering these aspects (which I've probably totally failed to explain adequately, ha!).

    I enjoyed Season 8 a great deal. I mean, it went off the rails a little bit toward the end, but it was still really good to me. The characters felt like the characters, the writing was complex and layered and the first half of the season was as good as anything on the TV show. It was even better than Season 7, in my opinion. Like you, I also got more appreciation of the same characters you mentioned while reading it. Season 9, however, was so terrible that it killed all of my remaining interest in the comics. I haven't read Season 10 or 11, but I still keep semi-track of what's going on. I read a couple of The High School Years comics, which were cute but nothing truly great. To me, the comics feel like little more than a licensed cash-in by this point.
    Season 9 was the worst season across the whole series, tv and comics. Well, that was until Angel S11 which sucks oh so badly. I honestly just think the through line for the characters is still strong in the comics, the basic points of development they are getting are solid and work coherently back to the show. The execution of the comics might not be the level of the show but I still feel like I'm seeing where Joss wants these characters to go each season. Like them or not, they are the official continuation.

    Do you think there are any characters that should have continued but got dropped?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    Buffy in S7 did pull away from her friends somewhat but, for me, that is another realistic stage of growing up, when your friends start getting pushed to one side for your relationships. It just worked really well for me, particularly with Buffy/Spike.
    I agree that friends becoming less of a priority compared to your relationships is a normal part of growing up. The series showed that in earlier seasons. In Season 4, Buffy made her new relationship with Riley more of a priority than her relationships with her friends. And in Season 5, we see Willow and Xander doing the same thing with Tara and Anya. I didn't have a problem with that though, as it was still well-written and extremely true-to-life, a natural part of growing up. But in Season 7, Buffy didn't just pull away from her friends, she treated them horribly for a huge part of the season, IMO, and showed complete favoritism towards Spike that often made her look a hypocrite toward other characters.

    In "Selfless", she condescendingly tells Xander that he's too blinded by his feelings for Anya to realize that she needs to be killed, yet later on in the season, she harbors Spike, who is a constant danger to everyone around him due to The First Evil's control over him. There are many episodes in the middle part of the season where Spike is freely walking around the house around the Potentials and non-superpowered Scoobies despite the fact that his trigger could go off at any moment and he could kill them, and Buffy does absolutely nothing about it. In "Lies My Parents Told Me", Spike's trigger goes off and he almost seriously injures Dawn by throwing a cot at her, and Buffy tries to UNTIE HIM a few moments later. And again, there's the aforementioned "Spike is the only one watching my back" comment, which was a slap in the face to everyone, especially Xander, who had just lost his eye following Buffy and she couldn't even be there for him in the hospital during his time of need. I don't think there's anything wrong with Buffy and Spike's relationship getting more focus, but to that huge extent? Come on, now. Her behavior toward Spike often defied logic.

    The writers seemed completely incapable of writing a Buffy/Spike relationship without isolating Buffy from her friends or making the Scoobies look bad in order to make Spike look good (they even sort of do this again in early-Season 9). In "Touched", the Scoobies get labelled as 'traitors' who stabbed Buffy in the back while Spike gets to deliver a sweet, inspiring pep-talk to Buffy later on in the episode. Throughout Season 7, Spike gets a lot of screen-time and a solid, well-written-and-acted character arc, obviously meant to endear him more to Buffy and to the viewers, whereas the Scoobies get... practically nothing. Willow's redemption arc sucked, and Xander, Anya and Dawn did next to nothing throughout the season. And Buffy's character arc that season just felt like a rehash of her Season 5 and Season 6 arcs, just more crappily-written. I actually enjoy Buffy (the character and the show) a great deal in the earlier episodes of Season 7. She's training Dawn, she and Xander are close again, she and Willow are on the way to mending their friendship after the rocky events of Season 6, she has a great new job at the new Sunnydale High. Then "Conversations with Dead People" happens, and as wonderful as the Buffy-Holden scenes were (the best parts of a great episode), it feels like a little step backward for her as it sets the tone for the rest of her underwhelming Season 7 arc. Buffy *still* doesn't feel like she's capable of love? Been there, done that. See Season 5. Buffy *still* feels disconnected from the world and everyone around her, except Spike? Been there, done that. See Season 6. Wasn't all of that stuff resolved already? Why did they feel the need to go over the same issues again? I would have liked to have seen a more positive, hopeful storyline for Buffy in Season 7 focused on her rebuilding her relationships with her friends and learning to embrace the world she lived in, in addition to her gaining a healthier, stronger relationship with Spike built on real love. Basically, I would have liked to have seen what "Grave" seemed to promise for her.

    And if the writers were essentially going to turn Spike into the co-lead of the series during Season 7, then they could explored his relationships with other characters as well. I would've been interested in seeing how Spike's dynamic with Xander would or wouldn't have changed from their Seasons 4-6 dynamic due to the presence of his soul. I would have liked to have known what effect Spike's soul would have had on the possibility of his friendship with Dawn being renewed. I would have liked to see Spike and Willow bond in some way over their mutual paths to redemption. But we didn't get any of that, unfortunately.

    While the Buffy/Spike relationship got on my nerves during Season 7, I did appreciate the concept of it. Buffy's faith in Spike is what drives him to be a better man, and her faith in him is what results in them saving the day in the finale. And I did like that, because that's what I think a hero is: someone who inspires others to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. That's what Buffy did for Spike in Season 7, and I can appreciate that. That's why I think Season 7 is still a strong season for Spike himself, if not for Buffy or for the show. It's also why I love "Chosen" so much. The Buffy I know and love comes back in that episode, and by empowering the Potentials, she does what she does best: convincing the group of outcasts around her that they are stronger than they realize and that can be heroes too, all while breaking the rules and defying expectations in the process. That's what she did with Willow and Xander when the series began, it's what she did with Angel and Spike, and it's what she does with the Potential Slayers at the series' end.

    Also: I did enjoy Buffy's goodbye to Spike in the Hellmouth, and I think it's one of the greatest moments of the series. Like I said, Spuffy got on my nerves, but I don't have to love Spuffy in order to love Buffy's "I love you" to him. For me, it's the ultimate resolution to Buffy's fear of losing her warmth and ability to love that dated all the way back to Season 4. This live-journal entry explains it much better than I can, https://lostboy-lj.livejournal.com/32079.html. It's one of the best analyses of the show I've ever read.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    I just find it too tough to look at an earlier season as 'the best' for a character when they move on from it. I do know what you are saying, that you still can see/appreciate onward development and enjoy the characters afterwards, but still have an earlier favourite season. I just can't make myself do it. Every time I start to think of the best parts of an earlier season, how I loved stage 'x' for a character it just makes me think about what came next and then I'm mentally two seasons further on and am still not stopping. I'm just being useless for the thread purpose I'm afraid.
    I completely understand. So, do you view BtVS as being sort of like one long novel, with each season/episode being only a part of the overall story rather than things to be looked at entirely on their own?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    I'm not sure ASH was the best actor, but he is cool and I agree they kept shifting the character too much really. I have specifically been trying to make some sense of his journey during the rewatch because I, like you, found his early seasons somewhat disconnected from his later characterisation and the Ripper personality a total disconnect from how he was introduced. The explanations that I have been drawing from the conversations is that his reactions to his youthful out of control behaviour, his worries about the draw and dangers of the magic etc., was to over compensate and try to reinvent himself as the person he could have been, maybe wishes he had been, or was perhaps who he was expected to have become by family and the council. It is a somewhat false/created persona, his 'work' self/uniform. His responses to Buffy's death and his own emotional fallout from it is to try to avoid being there for if it happens again. It is all a bit messy and creates somewhat incoherent behaviour but the coherency comes from him trying to control/manage himself and his responses to things he can't control. It is looking for a logic of course, obviously I acknowledge that, but I like to try and make an overall sense from what we got and it is starting to make a little more sense to me in considering these aspects (which I've probably totally failed to explain adequately, ha!).
    Yeah, Giles's inconsistency as a character *is* very easy to fanwank and he does make sense if you really think about it, but it is frustrating because we shouldn't have to do so much looking for logic in order to make complete sense of a character as important as he is. And maybe I'm a little biased because I did prefer the Giles of early seasons more. In early episodes, I sort of see Giles's character as being about a traditional, somewhat repressed older man learning to come out of his shell and interact more with the new world. But of course, the writers didn't really go that way, so my interpretation of his character was dropped by, like, mid-Season 2.

    Although, the sloppy writing for Giles in Seasons 6-7 actually doesn't bother me that much since he's no longer a main character. By then, he's a supporting character. I'm fairly lenient on how supporting characters are used. They could be weak on their own, but as they long as they service the main characters' stories well, then I'm pretty happy. Like Tara, for instance. A lot of fans complain about her for being too boring or saintly -- and these are valid complaints -- but it doesn't really bother me because I never view her as being a main character. Yeah, she's a regular presence on the show for most of Seasons 5 and 6 and hugely important to those seasons, but homegirl's not even in the opening credits! Her one appearance in the credits was a tribute to Amber Benson on the part of the crew more than anything else. I see her as simply a character there to support the stories and arc of the main ones. Yeah, Tara's not very interesting on her own, but as long as she does a good job supporting the other characters (and I feel she does for Willow and Buffy), then I'm happy. And I feel that Giles does support Buffy's story well enough in Season 6 (and I suppose, Season 7 too), even if he kind of sucks on his own. However, certain supporting characters are so wonderful -- like Faith, Dru, and Darla -- that I often get frustrated when I feel like they're living too much in other character's shadows. So, it's a mixed bag.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    Do you think there are any characters that should have continued but got dropped?
    Oz! I *loved* Oz and his relationship with Willow (they're my favorite Buffyverse ship). He would have easily been one of my Top 5 favorite characters in the entire series if he had been fleshed out and utilized more. I thought he was great, but too underused, in Seasons 2-3 and I thought it was a shame that Seth Green had to leave just as he was getting more stuff to do in Season 4. Oz actually reminds me a LOT of a close friend of mine. They have very similar personalities -- very stoic and cool, highly intelligent but not very ambitious, a musician -- so seeing Oz is somewhat surreal for me whenever I watch the show.

    I also liked Kendra a great deal and wished we could have seen a tiny bit more of her. I've always imagined an alternate universe in which "Go Fish" was replaced by another episode in which Kendra came back to Sunnydale and her character got a little bit more attention, just to give her "Becoming" death a little more impact one episode later. I've always felt that Kendra was underrated. I liked the way she and Buffy played off each other in "What's My Line?" and I think she learned a lot from Buffy in that episode. The Kendra we see in "Becoming, Part 1" is more developed and much more human. I loved the moment where she tries to sneak up on Buffy.

    BUFFY: "You know, polite people call first."
    KENDRA: "Just wanted to test your reflexes."
    BUFFY: "How about you test my face-punching, 'cause I think you'll find it's improved."
    KENDRA: "I was on my way to your house. Saw you walking. Couldn't help meself."


    She played a joke on Buffy because she *couldn't help herself*. A change from the humorless Kendra who was all about constant control and restraint. Also loved her naming her stake Mr. Pointy, another very human thing. Clearly Kendra did take Buffy's lecture about using emotion and embracing humanity to heart. Her death always saddens me when I watch the episode, and I wish she could have been referenced a little more at some point.

    Also loved Jenny Calendar. Though I wouldn't have changed a thing about her death in Season 2, I do think she should have been brought up a lot more later on, particularly by Giles or Willow. After "Amends", she's literally never mentioned again.

    We should have also seen way more of Dru, though I think AtS would have been a better fit for her. I think it's a shame we never got to see a reunion between her and (souled!) Spike some point, perhaps in Season 5 of Angel.
    Last edited by Andrew S.; 05-10-17 at 02:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S. View Post
    I agree that friends becoming less of a priority compared to your relationships is a normal part of growing up. The series showed that in earlier seasons. In Season 4, Buffy made her new relationship with Riley more of a priority than her relationships with her friends. And in Season 5, we see Willow and Xander doing the same thing with Tara and Anya. I didn't have a problem with that though, as it was still well-written and extremely true-to-life, a natural part of growing up. But in Season 7, Buffy didn't just pull away from her friends, she treated them horribly for a huge part of the season, IMO, and showed complete favoritism towards Spike that often made her look a hypocrite toward other characters.
    Hmmm, I saw the Buffy/Riley of S4 as reflective of branching out from home and gaining clear independence. It was more sexually charged than about a deep connection and a mature relationship for me. As you say, Buffy is more connected to Spike than the others in S7 but it isn't 'be there done that' to S6 because it is the contrast to S6 where this is a relationship that has gone past lust (Briley and S6 Spuffy) and has become mutually supportive and empowering. I think the S7 Spuffy relationship is the first time this level has been reached and it is a direct follow on from their S6. It all just feels realistic to me and a very good depiction of a more adult dynamic in a relationship and shifts in friendships. Spike's season is great and it is such an excellent culmination of his series arc, but I do think the Spuffy of the season is gold too because of what it gives both of them. I do understand why people feel frustration in the relationship issues with Xander and Willow being reduced/dropped after the earlier part of the season but I think this leads towards what you/Lost Boy are saying Buffy reaches at the season end and is tied into her issues with facing her role as the slayer and feeling her ability to love. That really was a great article btw, thanks for the read.

    The writers seemed completely incapable of writing a Buffy/Spike relationship without isolating Buffy from her friends or making the Scoobies look bad in order to make Spike look good (they even sort of do this again in early-Season 9).
    Well where things have gotten to now has moved on from when this has been problematic and again, for me it all feels pretty organic and realistic to how you do find a more level footing and balance between relationship/friendships. There are times when your friends let you down or you them and I suppose it was just a shame that it was one of those stages that the scoobies were naturally at when the tv series was drawing to a close. But it has all continued to move onwards, still progressing these characters and their relationships. The building with her friends wasn't strong on screen sadly but it has been happening since then. Likewise Spike's relationships with the scoobies too have been changing and in a way I find far more believable, with a great deal of time and settling into his own personal changes having occurred, than I think S7 could have believably developed and delivered. I don't think they possibly could have done all of it all together in S7 without it being schmaltzy, forced or them not having time to do justice to any of it. I could have lived with a little less of the potentials for a little more of the scoobies I have to admit but, as I say, Spuffy in S7 works for me alongside Spike's arc and Buffy's development. It is a lot of what the season is about I agree, but I just find it believable to real life shifts in dynamics. Obviously, sadly, it doesn't hit the right note/balance throughout for everyone.

    I completely understand. So, do you view BtVS as being sort of like one long novel, with each season/episode being only a part of the overall story rather than things to be looked at entirely on their own?
    Yes and then also not totally. It is a story about growing up and going through life's challenges and they are progressive stories for the characters. I can look at the different episodes and the different stages and consider them individually for sure, but I can't pretend I don't know where it goes or that I don't know that it changes and moves on. I can enjoy earlier seasons/episodes for characters more than later ones but the 'best' for the character involves the whole, if you see what I mean. Take Willow as an example. I think S6 was the most interesting for her but I can't say it was her best season because she moves on from it and develops further because of it. To label it as her 'best' season feels like it raises who she was then above where she goes on to and who she becomes following that exploration. I don't know, I'm sure I'm being strange, it just feels wrong to put 'best' next to an earlier stage. Key points, important points, interesting points etc etc, but the best is the entirety.

    Yeah, Giles's inconsistency as a character *is* very easy to fanwank and he does make sense if you really think about it, but it is frustrating because we shouldn't have to do so much looking for logic in order to make complete sense of a character as important as he is.
    Yeah, I get that. Although he isn't around as much in the later seasons it is of course just part of the whole picture and his overall significance still matters. But even with supporting characters, I'll still try to draw coherent ties across the seasons. I have less of a problem with characters being used in service of other character stories I think, it just limits sometimes what we see/learn of them individually. Dru is a great example of a character that is there to serve other character stories and I think she works like that tbh. Although it is getting a little ridiculous, like Harmony, in how may times they can crop up, run off and be back again another day.

    Oz! I *loved* Oz and his relationship with Willow (they're my favorite Buffyverse ship). He would have easily been one of my Top 5 favorite characters in the entire series if he had been fleshed out and utilized more. I thought he was great, but too underused, in Seasons 2-3 and I thought it was a shame that Seth Green had to leave just as he was getting more stuff to do in Season 4. Oz actually reminds me a LOT of a close friend of mine. They have very similar personalities -- very stoic and cool, highly intelligent but not very ambitious, a musician -- so seeing Oz is somewhat surreal for me whenever I watch the show.
    Yes! I loved Oz too and Oz/Willow was one of my favourite relationships. Got to appreciate your love for Kendra as well, I don't think I've ever seen specific Kendra love before and it is a beautiful thing.

    We should have also seen way more of Dru, though I think AtS would have been a better fit for her. I think it's a shame we never got to see a reunion between her and (souled!) Spike some point, perhaps in Season 5 of Angel.
    I think she worked in either show but is better placed alongside Angel's story now as he is always focussing back so Dru will always be a major part of his story. Spike's story always tends to look forwards but there is certainly scope for him to progress from seeing Dru again and I would like to see how they interact now Spike is souled.
    Last edited by Stoney; 05-10-17 at 03:49 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    Hmmm, I saw the Buffy/Riley of S4 as reflective of branching out from home and gaining clear independence. It was more sexually charged than about a deep connection and a mature relationship for me. As you say, Buffy is more connected to Spike than the others in S7 but it isn't 'be there done that' to S6 because it is the contrast to S6 where this is a relationship that has gone past lust (Briley and S6 Spuffy) and has become mutually supportive and empowering. I think the S7 Spuffy relationship is the first time this level has been reached and it is a direct follow on from their S6. It all just feels realistic to me and a very good depiction of a more adult dynamic in a relationship and shifts in friendships. Spike's season is great and it is such an excellent culmination of his series arc, but I do think the Spuffy of the season is gold too because of what it gives both of them. I do understand why people feel frustration in the relationship issues with Xander and Willow being reduced/dropped after the earlier part of the season but I think this leads towards what you/Lost Boy are saying Buffy reaches at the season end and is tied into her issues with facing her role as the slayer and feeling her ability to love. That really was a great article btw, thanks for the read.
    I guess enjoyment of the seventh season just depends on how one watches the show. I always viewed the show as an ensemble piece. But if you view the show from a more Buffy-centric POV (which I assume you and many other people sort of do), then Season 7 *is* pretty strong. On a thematic level, I think it does hold up really well. The problem for me is that, on a literal level, it really doesn't. Same with Season 6, to an extent. And another thing that makes Buffy so great is that it can be viewed on multiple levels. I'm not wrong for thinking of it as an ensemble, and you're not wrong for viewing it as Buffy-centric (that is, assuming you do), because it's both of those things. There are so many layers to the series. It can be viewed as an ensemble series, a Buffy-centric series and holds up really well on both literal, metaphorical and thematic levels. But the problem with Season 7 for me is that a lot of those layers were lost to the point where it really only makes sense as a Buffy-centric show and on a metaphorical/thematic level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    The building with her friends wasn't strong on screen sadly but it has been happening since then.
    If you're referring to the comics, I definitely agree. It's a huge reason why I prefer Season 8 over Season 7. In Season 8, Buffy was still angsty and feeling disconnected, while still having good relationships with her friends. I loved the emphasis on her friendship with Xander that season, and I loved seeing her and Willow rebuild their friendship. Whedon and the writers managed to show Buffy feeling isolated and becoming morally ambiguous without sacrificing her relationships with her friends or throwing the Scoobies under the bus the way I feel they often did in Season 7. I actually think some time part in between Seasons 7 and 8 was good thing for the gang.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    Likewise Spike's relationships with the scoobies too have been changing and in a way I find far more believable, with a great deal of time and settling into his own personal changes having occurred, than I think S7 could have believably developed and delivered. I don't think they possibly could have done all of it all together in S7 without it being schmaltzy, forced or them not having time to do justice to any of it. I could have lived with a little less of the potentials for a little more of the scoobies I have to admit but, as I say, Spuffy in S7 works for me alongside Spike's arc and Buffy's development. It is a lot of what the season is about I agree, but I just find it believable to real life shifts in dynamics. Obviously, sadly, it doesn't hit the right note/balance throughout for everyone.
    In 22 episodes, I think there was plenty of time to explore Spike and the Scoobies in the final (televised) season. The writers just had no interest. I don't think exploring Spike and his dynamics with the Scoobies would have been forced or schmaltzy. I'm not saying there could have been *positive* development between him and them, but I would have liked to have seen more perspective. I have no idea how Xander, Dawn or Willow feel about the new Spike or their feelings on his gaining a soul, and that's crappy storytelling. Let alone that, how do Xander, Dawn or Willow feel about the more improving, caring relationship between Buffy and Spike. We saw how Xander and Dawn felt about Season 6 Spuffy, how do they feel about Season 7 Spuffy? In Willow's case, we don't get her perspective on Buffy/Spike in either season, aside from two seconds of shock and concern upon finding out in "Seeing Red". Come to think of it, do we ever find out what Willow's friends think of her and Kennedy? I agree that Season 7's uber-focus on Spuffy at the expense of other characters was realistic in real-life dynamic shifts, but just because something is realistic doesn't mean it's well-written or entertaining. If a show fails to utilize four of its six main characters properly, that's bad writing, realistic or not. The show was able to be both realistic (on the character front) *and* entertaining in Seasons 1-5 (and parts of 6). I think it would have been realistic for Buffy to be too wrapped up in her guilt/self-hatred for her relationship with Spike to refuse to forgive him for the attempted rape throughout Season 7 and decide to stake him once The First Evil started to trigger him, but I'm sure that wouldn't have a very good story to you. (Not that it would have been to me either, for the record, but I'm just throwing out a hypothetical.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    Yes and then also not totally. It is a story about growing up and going through life's challenges and they are progressive stories for the characters. I can look at the different episodes and the different stages and consider them individually for sure, but I can't pretend I don't know where it goes or that I don't know that it changes and moves on. I can enjoy earlier seasons/episodes for characters more than later ones but the 'best' for the character involves the whole, if you see what I mean. Take Willow as an example. I think S6 was the most interesting for her but I can't say it was her best season because she moves on from it and develops further because of it. To label it as her 'best' season feels like it raises who she was then above where she goes on to and who she becomes following that exploration. I don't know, I'm sure I'm being strange, it just feels wrong to put 'best' next to an earlier stage. Key points, important points, interesting points etc etc, but the best is the entirety.
    So is your preference for viewing the series as a whole and always considering their long-term development even watching individual seasons/episodes another reason why you prefer the later seasons? Seasons 5-7 with their more arc-y, longform storytelling basically invite the viewers to consider everything that came before and comes after as a whole when watching the series and examining the characters, whereas Seasons 1-4 were more focused on the stories they were telling on their own, first and foremost. Is that another reason why you prefer Seasons 5-7 more?

    I suppose, with me, it's a mixture of both. I'm able to focus on characters fully in their present without thinking about their futures when watching the early seasons. But thinking about their future development is often the icing on the cake for me. For example, "School Hard" -- an early-season, standalone episode that I (and I assume you, given your love for Spike) love. When viewing the episode entirely on its own, it's a great one. Spike and Drusilla were way more charismatic and entertaining than any of the previous villains, it perfectly encapsulates Buffy's early character arc of balancing slaying and her normal life through her struggle to fight Spike and get through parent-teacher night, it's funny and suspenseful, has great character interactions, etc. I loved it when I first saw it.

    And when viewing the episode thinking about the series' long-term, it's even better. I like what you said before about Spike's later development being foreshadowing in Season 2 even when the writers had no real idea where they were going to take the character ultimately. "School Hard" *heavily* foreshadowed the Buffy/Spike relationship and the sexual undercurrent of the season itself. I also liked that moment where Spike is interacting with the Anointed One in vamp-face and then he sees Dru, and his vampface automatically transforms into his human one. I think that moment perfectly encapsulated Spike's character. His love for Dru -- and later, Buffy -- automatically brings out his human side, for better or worse, of course. And his strong propensity to love is what essentially guides his entire character arc, and that's all RIGHT THERE in his debut episode. It's brilliant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    Yes! I loved Oz too and Oz/Willow was one of my favourite relationships. Got to appreciate your love for Kendra as well, I don't think I've ever seen specific Kendra love before and it is a beautiful thing.
    Yeah, there's a certain psychological slant with Kendra that fascinated me. She was the stereotypical Slayer, designed to be an object/weapon for the Council and nothing more. But the glimpses of humanity we see in her show that no matter how much someone is treated like they're inhuman and convinced that they're inhuman, they will still act human and want to be human (even if they don't consciously realize it). In some ways, Kendra's like a vampire. Fans always complain that her accent is terrible, and it is, but I even think that works. In my personal canon, Kendra was probably always relocated and shifted back and forth all over the world to fight evil even from a young age and she was so out-of-practice when it came to talking to people that she was never able to form a coherent way of speaking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S. View Post
    If you're referring to the comics, I definitely agree.
    I was referring to where it went/is going in the comics.

    In 22 episodes, I think there was plenty of time to explore Spike and the Scoobies in the final (televised) season. The writers just had no interest. I don't think exploring Spike and his dynamics with the Scoobies would have been forced or schmaltzy. I'm not saying there could have been *positive* development between him and them, but I would have liked to have seen more perspective.
    I'm not sure that I do look at the show as being more Buffy focused than the ensemble, but I do lean very heavily to what's happening with Spike's story and so my satisfaction with his season is going to very heavily affect my perspective more than the Buffy/ensemble balance. I take the point that touching on others' reactions to Spike/Spuffy did not have to progress it through to the positive understanding and dynamics that are currently in play. It makes sense to me that from Spike's point of view he would avoid the others early in being souled and adjusting and focus on Buffy, but that doesn't block getting more of a sense of their responses. I think the complication there comes in then dealing with their responses and their responses impacting on what was happening further. If you aren't going to give that any time and explore it at all further between them/Buffy at least, then you have to question the worth in going there. Adding in an element to 'see' then requires decisions about whether you are containing it or expanding on it and how it would impact other balances and whether you can reasonably show one without going on to explore more. I do get your point, but there is a degree whereby you would be spreading things too thin to cover too many factors and nothing gets any depth. I could have definitely done with less time on the potentials in favour of more scoobie interactions, but I wouldn't have reduced other things for it and I do think the friends/relationship shift works well realistically and was pretty happy with that being depicted personally in terms of the entertainment/writing of the season. I actually found the realism of that aspect a strength of the season. Mileage varies as they say.

    So is your preference for viewing the series as a whole and always considering their long-term development even watching individual seasons/episodes another reason why you prefer the later seasons? Seasons 5-7 with their more arc-y, longform storytelling basically invite the viewers to consider everything that came before and comes after as a whole when watching the series and examining the characters, whereas Seasons 1-4 were more focused on the stories they were telling on their own, first and foremost. Is that another reason why you prefer Seasons 5-7 more?
    I suppose so. I mean I don't watch individual episodes, I've always watched the show chronologically and it is the overall progression and coherency of the character's stories that I love so much about the show. But it isn't that I can't look at different specific stages and discuss a season or an episode in isolation. I really do love all of the show. I know I talk of preferring the later seasons but it is a pretty flat structure really. S2&3 are pretty level with S7 for me. In fact, if I was separating individual seasons and so not considering the overall trajectory of S6 through to S7, I'd probably rate S2 over S7, although not above S5 & 6. If splitting the show into early seasons and later seasons then yeah, I'm going to choose the later ones because it has the further progress.

    I suppose, with me, it's a mixture of both. I'm able to focus on characters fully in their present without thinking about their futures when watching the early seasons. But thinking about their future development is often the icing on the cake for me. For example, "School Hard" -- an early-season, standalone episode that I (and I assume you, given your love for Spike) love. When viewing the episode entirely on its own, it's a great one. Spike and Drusilla were way more charismatic and entertaining than any of the previous villains, it perfectly encapsulates Buffy's early character arc of balancing slaying and her normal life through her struggle to fight Spike and get through parent-teacher night, it's funny and suspenseful, has great character interactions, etc. I loved it when I first saw it.

    And when viewing the episode thinking about the series' long-term, it's even better. I like what you said before about Spike's later development being foreshadowing in Season 2 even when the writers had no real idea where they were going to take the character ultimately. "School Hard" *heavily* foreshadowed the Buffy/Spike relationship and the sexual undercurrent of the season itself. I also liked that moment where Spike is interacting with the Anointed One in vamp-face and then he sees Dru, and his vampface automatically transforms into his human one. I think that moment perfectly encapsulated Spike's character. His love for Dru -- and later, Buffy -- automatically brings out his human side, for better or worse, of course. And his strong propensity to love is what essentially guides his entire character arc, and that's all RIGHT THERE in his debut episode. It's brilliant.
    Well I think we can/do look at these things the same then, both individually and with the long-term series wide arc in mind. It is just that faced with the question of what is the 'best' season for a character, I'm automatically going to consider the different stages in their overall path and where they end up has the greatest character depth for them. But it might not be the season that individually has the most character development, or has their best interactions with other characters, the most significant turning point etc etc. Those questions might get a variety of answers, but an overall 'best' is something I can't separate their complete direction from. I'm not sure I'm explaining myself well here.

    Yeah, there's a certain psychological slant with Kendra that fascinated me. She was the stereotypical Slayer, designed to be an object/weapon for the Council and nothing more. But the glimpses of humanity we see in her show that no matter how much someone is treated like they're inhuman and convinced that they're inhuman, they will still act human and want to be human (even if they don't consciously realize it). In some ways, Kendra's like a vampire. Fans always complain that her accent is terrible, and it is, but I even think that works. In my personal canon, Kendra was probably always relocated and shifted back and forth all over the world to fight evil even from a young age and she was so out-of-practice when it came to talking to people that she was never able to form a coherent way of speaking.
    It is really interesting and she is a character that I confess I've never given much time/thought to. I'll definitely be viewing her differently and considering the character more next time I watch though, which is what I love the most about talking about these things, how it alters/informs how I think about it all when next viewing.

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    Buffy

    This is hard. I kinda like season 4 Buffy because that's when she's seemingly at her happiest and I can't help it, I like happy characters. By the way, this is something I can't stand about the larger genre fiction/cape shit/nerd stuff - the characters are often miserable and it's, like, if you can't solve your problems why do you even try to solve the world's problems? I also love the current, season 11 Buffy. Everything that used to piss me off about Buffy is basically gone, she character developed past that and she's just amazing. Yeah...I don't know, I can't answer that.

    Willow

    Season 4 - obvious reasons, plus, she's consistently kawaii as all shit and just all around fun. I also like season 6 Willow because she's so hot and the angery Willow is pure entertainment as far as I'm concerned. But then there's season 9 - Willow's run in season 9 is absolutely ridiculous, she gets more character development and straight-up awesome shit to do than in probably any other season. Again, it's hard, but if I have to make a choice, it's season 4.

    Xander

    I love Xander in season 3. He says what I think and also, he slept with Faith. It's pretty baller. I also like season 8 Xander, I mean, all things considered dude's living the dream, even Buffy wants his D. Season 5 is great too, I think I'll pick that.

    Giles

    Season 2 Giles is my favorite Giles! The Jenny thing's great and Rupert seems more competent than in most seasons, so yeah.

    Anya

    I'm thinking, which season represents Anya at her Anya-est? It's either 5 or 7 - I think I'll pick season 7.

    Spike

    Plot armor aside, Spike is at his most entertaining in season 4 but I still like season 2 Spike more.

    Tara

    I like season 5 Tara the most - she's funny, she's hot ( better costumes and hairdos ) and she's not saint Tara yet.

    Dawn

    I like Dawn in every season, if I have to choose it's season 5.

    Oz

    I like Oz in every season as well and, I mean, it's not like he actually changes so whatever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    I think the complication there comes in then dealing with their responses and their responses impacting on what was happening further. If you aren't going to give that any time and explore it at all further between them/Buffy at least, then you have to question the worth in going there. Adding in an element to 'see' then requires decisions about whether you are containing it or expanding on it and how it would impact other balances and whether you can reasonably show one without going on to explore more. I do get your point, but there is a degree whereby you would be spreading things too thin to cover too many factors and nothing gets any depth.
    I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe that. Earlier seasons of the show are PACKED with plenty of plot, character and thematic material for all of the main cast. Packing multiple subplots, themes, and character threads into one season was one of the things that Buffy excelled at during its earlier seasons. Using Season 2 as an example (simply because it's my favorite season): there's the main Buffy/Angel storyline; the John Hughes-esque teenage relationships and love triangles between Buffy/Willow/Xander/Cordy/Oz; Giles' relationship and subplot with Jenny Calendar; plenty of focus on Buffy and Joyce; growth between Buffy and Giles' relationship; Angel/Dru/Spike. All of that stuff receives heavy focus consistently throughout the season and none of it lacks depth. Every single main character contributes to the season in a meaningful way and get a lot of development. It would be impossible for me to imagine Season 2 without any member of the ensemble. Cordelia is, perhaps, the least integral member of the cast during that season and even if you take her out, you're missing quite a bit in terms of quality and storyline. Whereas, take someone like Xander, Dawn or Anya out of the show during the last two-thirds of Season 7, and you'll find that the season won't lose much in terms of quality or storyline. Faith's return alone should have promised good material for the Scoobies, but the writers dropped the ball on that, too. Faith's actions in Season 3 didn't just affect Buffy, but it affected her friends too, and yet the interaction between Faith and the Scoobies is so flat. You can't even tell that Willow and Faith fantasized about each other's deaths the last time they saw each other.

    Like I said, there was plenty of time and potential to focus on the supporting cast members. The writers just had no interest, and were too focused on Spike. This is what I mean when I say he was overused in Season 7. I just skimmed some Season 7 episode summaries and recaps. There are plenty of episodes where Xander, Dawn and Anya have nothing to do and don't affect the plot in any meaningful way at all, and Xander -- unlike Dawn and Anya -- doesn't even get a 'spotlight' episode at all! There's no "Selfless" or "Potential" for his character. Meanwhile, there were about 3 Spike-centric episodes ("Beneath You", "Sleeper", "Lies My Parents Told Me"), a stretch of episodes centered around Buffy scrambling to rescue him from The First's kidnapping/trigger control. There was not one episode during the entire season where Spike didn't get a whole scene or subplot devoted to showing his character development. It doesn't help that very late in the season, the writers contrive a situation to make the Scoobies look like traitors so that Spike is the only one to stand by Buffy, and the final episode ends with Spike being the reason everyone wins the battle. I know you don't mind because Spike is your favorite character, but for other people, it's very alienating to see other beloved characters pushed to the side in favor of one. And it's simply unacceptable for the final season of a television series.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    I could have definitely done with less time on the potentials in favour of more scoobie interactions, but I wouldn't have reduced other things for it and I do think the friends/relationship shift works well realistically and was pretty happy with that being depicted personally in terms of the entertainment/writing of the season. I actually found the realism of that aspect a strength of the season. Mileage varies as they say.
    Yeah. And for the record, I don't want to make it sound like I'm pinning all of Season 7's problems on Spuffy because I'm not. I think the heavy focus on the season's plot was just as, maybe even more, detrimental to the show and the well-being of other characters. The show kept introducing and giving valuable screen time to uninteresting new characters like the Potentials, Andrew, Wood and Caleb that it did really suffer. One of Buffy's greatest strengths was that it always emphasized character development over plot, and that was eschewed in Season 7. The season's plot is an incoherent mess, the pacing is terrible, a lot of the scripts feel like first drafts just thrown together. Plot points are introduced that don't go anywhere, and the characters are being manipulated to service the plot, resulting in the characters acting stupid or not communicating with one another for no reason. Giles and Anya just accept at face-value, with no question whatsoever, that Buffy's resurrection is what messed up the Slayer line and allowed The First to rise, despite the fact that Buffy was resurrected before four years earlier? What happened to Willow's computer-hacking skills? How did Dawn become the brains of the Scooby Gang? Everyone really thinks that Buffy's death will activate another Slayer despite none being activated after her Season 5 death? Do the Scoobies think that only odd-numbered deaths activate Slayers and that only even-numbered ones allow apocalypses to happen, or something?

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney
    It is really interesting and she is a character that I confess I've never given much time/thought to. I'll definitely be viewing her differently and considering the character more next time I watch though, which is what I love the most about talking about these things, how it alters/informs how I think about it all when next viewing.
    I agree, and I'm hoping that the Seasons 6 and 7 rewatch threads will help brighten my views on the seasons because it may give me more to consider when watching the series and cause me to think about things a little differently. I'm really glad I started contributing to this forum. Actually articulating my thoughts on the series and my problems with Season 7, in particular, has given me a surprising amount of clarity.

    Quote Originally Posted by a thing of evil
    This is hard. I kinda like season 4 Buffy because that's when she's seemingly at her happiest and I can't help it, I like happy characters. By the way, this is something I can't stand about the larger genre fiction/cape shit/nerd stuff - the characters are often miserable and it's, like, if you can't solve your problems why do you even try to solve the world's problems? I also love the current, season 11 Buffy. Everything that used to piss me off about Buffy is basically gone, she character developed past that and she's just amazing. Yeah...I don't know, I can't answer that.
    I think you hit the nail on the head with that comment, and I agree completely with the bolded part. I have a huge problem with Whedon's apparent belief that miserable characters makes for more interesting television. It's quite a flaw of the later seasons of both Buffy and Angel. Things get a little *too* miserable and never really quite recover on both shows (only I think it worked much better on Angel, which I interpreted as a less positive show than Buffy). But sometimes it often feel like: how can I possibly like these characters when they don't even seem to like themselves or each other, for that matter? Another season why Season 8 worked so well was that the writers brought the fun back into the series.

    When Willow appeared in "Orpheus", she wasn't very well-written but she was funny, charismatic and immensely more enjoyable than she was on Buffy at the time. Same with Cordelia in "You're Welcome" in comparison to Angel Seasons 3 and 4.

    On a shallower note, is it me or are characters more *attractive* when they're happier too? I don't think Buffy was very beautiful during Seasons 6 and 7, but when I see Sarah Michelle Gellar in an interview circa 2002-2003 (or any year for that matter), she's absolutely stunning. Why? Because she's actually emoting. Willow was, indeed, very hot in Seasons 6 and 7 but in "Orpheus", she's radiant (although maybe that's due to Angel Season 4 having much better video quality on the DVDs?) Same with Cordelia/Charisma in Buffy/early Angel/"You're Welcome" in comparison to her appearance in Seasons 3-4.
    Last edited by Andrew S.; 11-10-17 at 02:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S. View Post
    I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe that. Earlier seasons of the show are PACKED with plenty of plot, character and thematic material for all of the main cast. Packing multiple subplots, themes, and character threads into one season was one of the things that Buffy excelled at during its earlier seasons. Using Season 2 as an example (simply because it's my favorite season): there's the main Buffy/Angel storyline; the John Hughes-esque teenage relationships and love triangles between Buffy/Willow/Xander/Cordy/Oz; Giles' relationship and subplot with Jenny Calendar; plenty of focus on Buffy and Joyce; growth between Buffy and Giles' relationship; Angel/Dru/Spike. All of that stuff receives heavy focus consistently throughout the season and none of it lacks depth. Every single main character contributes to the season in a meaningful way and get a lot of development. It would be impossible for me to imagine Season 2 without any member of the ensemble. Cordelia is, perhaps, the least integral member of the cast during that season and even if you take her out, you're missing quite a bit in terms of quality and storyline. Whereas, take someone like Xander, Dawn or Anya out of the show during the last two-thirds of Season 7, and you'll find that the season won't lose much in terms of quality or storyline. Faith's return alone should have promised good material for the Scoobies, but the writers dropped the ball on that, too. Faith's actions in Season 3 didn't just affect Buffy, but it affected her friends too, and yet the interaction between Faith and the Scoobies is so flat. You can't even tell that Willow and Faith fantasized about each other's deaths the last time they saw each other.
    I wasn't really meaning that multiple plots and character stories couldn't be covered, I think I was talking about the Spike/Spuffy attention at that point. If additional points of view on Spuffy/Spike had been a part of what was included, then, as it related to a main feature of the season, it would have impact on it. If we were going to see more of Xander's response then the fact that Spuffy was ongoing would mean that his response would affect the feel of Spuffy overall in the season (to the audience at the least) or it would play into what the other characters were thinking etc more widely than just showing us. So to cover other points of view more in relation to Spuffy would just be spreading it widely without any depth if you didn't then look at the affect of it being included at all, if you see what I mean.

    In terms of actually giving more time to the scoobies and keeping other themes, subplots etc running alongside, yeah, I agree they could have done more. As you go on to say there were issues with the plot that I see and agree with and wasted time that could have been better served elsewhere and on others. But I do also think that the tone of the season would have been affected by having the pace/energy of S2, which suited who they were and the stage they were at in a way that wouldn't have benefited the sense that they were different now and had moved on in life. I don't know, I think as you say it boils down to the fact that I just don't have the same problems with S7 (although I really do agree to some extent). It isn't just because Spike's my favourite character and his season arc got plenty of focus and his development was covered so well, although obviously that is a big part I don't deny. I think my appreciation of the shifting dynamic between Buffy and her friends and how realistic I felt that was to growing up and the changes that occur in your relationships plays another big part. I do understand why others don't like the fact that them being pushed aside was a significant part of the season (and with it being the final season too). But for me it was the show being relatable again with something that I had found a difficult transition in life and so really genuinely appreciated seeing the group go through too. That still doesn't change that I do agree that if the season's weaknesses were tidied up then time could have been better spent, I just wouldn't touch the Spike/Spuffy of the season to achieve it.

    I agree, and I'm hoping that the Seasons 6 and 7 rewatch threads will help brighten my views on the seasons because it may give me more to consider when watching the series and cause me to think about things a little differently. I'm really glad I started contributing to this forum. Actually articulating my thoughts on the series and my problems with Season 7, in particular, has given me a surprising amount of clarity.
    I'll look forward to discussing it all with you as we go through the seasons. You never know, it might be my opinion that shifts as it has on a few things as the rewatch has progressed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    I wasn't really meaning that multiple plots and character stories couldn't be covered, I think I was talking about the Spike/Spuffy attention at that point. If additional points of view on Spuffy/Spike had been a part of what was included, then, as it related to a main feature of the season, it would have impact on it. If we were going to see more of Xander's response then the fact that Spuffy was ongoing would mean that his response would affect the feel of Spuffy overall in the season (to the audience at the least) or it would play into what the other characters were thinking etc more widely than just showing us. So to cover other points of view more in relation to Spuffy would just be spreading it widely without any depth if you didn't then look at the affect of it being included at all, if you see what I mean.
    I get what you mean: what's the point of having other characters react to Spuffy if they don't really do anything about it or affect the plot? Then, by all means, the writers could have had those feelings affect the plot. I don't really know how it could have, but I'm not a writer. Great writers could think of how to make character dynamics/opinions useful to the story. I thought Buffy and Xander's argument over their respective feelings about Spike and Anya influencing their respective judgements in "Selfless" was good drama. I think the scene was flawed in the sense that it put Buffy too much in the right when I think she was clearly wrong (but that's a different topic). Xander's Bangel opinions in the early seasons caused for good drama, and Willow's negative Xandelia opinions also made for some great moments. I thought the whole Buffy/Spike/Xander/Anya thing in "Entropy" and "Seeing Red" was strong writing as well. And Xander, Dawn and Anya's reactions to Spike's return in "Beneath You" were well-done also. I loved Anya's almost childlike fascination at his soul ('How did you get it?!'). Loved Dawn threatening to set Spike on fire ('When did your sister get unbelievably scary?'), and ditto for their scene together in "Seeing Red". It's *such* a shame we didn't see more of Dawn-Spike in Seasons 6 and 7 because I really loved their dynamic and I think Dawn's perspective on Season 7 Spike/Spuffy is the one I would have liked to have seen the most. But nevertheless, the examples I mentioned show that the writers were clearly capable of writing great material centered around the characters' perspectives on various relationships that affected the story and made for great comedic/emotionally resonant moments.

    I think "Beneath You" was one of Season 7's stronger episodes. It had heavy focus on Spike (that final scene was terrific), but the other characters still got a lot to do. We should have gotten more episodes like it. "Sleeper" and "Never Leave Me" were solid as well. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I actually think the first third of Season 7 was great. "Lessons" to "Never Leave Me" is the best start that any Buffy season ever had, and that nine-episode stretch is one of the most consistent that the show ever had. But I don't know what the hell happens around "Bring On the Night", because the quality just falls off a cliff, IMO.
    Last edited by Andrew S.; 11-10-17 at 02:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S. View Post

    On a shallower note, is it me or are characters more *attractive* when they're happier too? I don't think Buffy was very beautiful during Seasons 6 and 7, but when I see Sarah Michelle Gellar in an interview circa 2002-2003 (or any year for that matter), she's absolutely stunning. Why? Because she's actually emoting. Willow was, indeed, very hot in Seasons 6 and 7 but in "Orpheus", she's radiant (although maybe that's due to Angel Season 4 having much better video quality on the DVDs?) Same with Cordelia/Charisma in Buffy/early Angel/"You're Welcome" in comparison to her appearance in Seasons 3-4.
    Well, maybe it's just me, but I don't find characters either more attractive or more likable when they are happy. I'm not saying that they need to be miserable for me to like them, or that I find them more attractive when they are suffering. But I often love characters the most when they are being depressed, traumatized and going through emotional difficulties - especially if it's shown in in the a raw and honest way, rather than the surface level "isn't he hot when he's brooding in a manly way/isn't she beautiful when she's sad" kind of thing. Maybe it is the fact that my empathy with the characters get induced more. But it's also because it feels more psychologically realistic and genuine when characters who have experienced terrible things actually show effects of trauma, rather than being sad for half an episode and then shrugging it off so they can be happy, perky and "badass", the way most of the fans usually want them to be.

    Cordelia sucked in seasons 3 and 4 not because she wasn't happy, but because she was first made to be too bland and saintly, and then in season 4, stopped being a character altogether, becoming just a vessel for Jasmine instead.
    Last edited by TimeTravellingBunny; 11-10-17 at 07:40 PM.
    You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew S. View Post
    I get what you mean: what's the point of having other characters react to Spuffy if they don't really do anything about it or affect the plot? Then, by all means, the writers could have had those feelings affect the plot. I don't really know how it could have, but I'm not a writer. Great writers could think of how to make character dynamics/opinions useful to the story. I thought Buffy and Xander's argument over their respective feelings about Spike and Anya influencing their respective judgements in "Selfless" was good drama. I think the scene was flawed in the sense that it put Buffy too much in the right when I think she was clearly wrong (but that's a different topic). Xander's Bangel opinions in the early seasons caused for good drama, and Willow's negative Xandelia opinions also made for some great moments. I thought the whole Buffy/Spike/Xander/Anya thing in "Entropy" and "Seeing Red" was strong writing as well. And Xander, Dawn and Anya's reactions to Spike's return in "Beneath You" were well-done also. I loved Anya's almost childlike fascination at his soul ('How did you get it?!'). Loved Dawn threatening to set Spike on fire ('When did your sister get unbelievably scary?'), and ditto for their scene together in "Seeing Red". It's *such* a shame we didn't see more of Dawn-Spike in Seasons 6 and 7 because I really loved their dynamic and I think Dawn's perspective on Season 7 Spike/Spuffy is the one I would have liked to have seen the most. But nevertheless, the examples I mentioned show that the writers were clearly capable of writing great material centered around the characters' perspectives on various relationships that affected the story and made for great comedic/emotionally resonant moments.
    Well yes, I agree that it is used/done superbly at times, I never thought we were saying that it never happened at all. Our difference is that I wouldn't lose what exists for Spike/Spuffy to put into the scoobs separately or in their responses to Spike/Spuffy. I'd take the time from elsewhere and happily have more scoobies development too. As I say, it will be interesting to discuss it all as we go through the season.

    I agree with your point about wishing for more Dawn/Spike in S6-7, but I am led to believe they felt by S6 MT was looking too mature for a brotherly vibe to be believable between her/Spike. I really don't agree, think it is a bit daft to imply that JM/MT couldn't convey it still and think it was a mistake to ditch the time they put into the relationship in S5. But they pretty much did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimeTravellingBunny View Post
    Well, maybe it's just me, but I don't find characters either more attractive or more likable when they are happy. I'm not saying that they need to be miserable for me to like them, or that I find them more attractive when they are suffering. But I often love characters the most when they are being depressed, traumatized and going through emotional difficulties - especially if it's shown in in the a raw and honest way, rather than the surface level "isn't he hot when he's brooding in a manly way/isn't she beautiful when she's sad" kind of thing. Maybe it is the fact that my empathy with the characters get induced more. But it's also because it feels more psychologically realistic and genuine when characters who have experienced terrible things actually show effects of trauma, rather than being sad for half an episode and then shrugging it off so they can be happy, perky and "badass", the way most of the fans usually want them to be.

    Cordelia sucked in seasons 3 and 4 not because she wasn't happy, but because she was first made to be too bland and saintly, and then in season 4, stopped being a character altogether, becoming just a vessel for Jasmine instead.
    To be honest, I was somewhat exaggerating on my last post when talking about the characters' attractiveness. It's not that I think characters are ALWAYS more attractive when they're happier (I think a lot of people would argue the contrary when it comes to Wesley). On the surface-level thing you mentioned though, Buffy was devastated in "Innocence", but I think she was gorgeous in that episode. SMG has to be the most beautiful crier I have ever seen. I don't think I've ever seen a person (on screen or in real-life) manage to still look beautiful even while sobbing in tears. But SMG, in general, seemed to be able to pull off strange things that few other actors were able to (how did she NOT lisp while in vampface during "Nightmares"??). Anyway...

    I was more just commenting on the actresses playing Buffy, Willow and Cordelia seeming to be a bit more attractive to me when they got to step outside of the gloom that dominated their characters during the later seasons of the shows. Not that any of them were unattractive at any point in the show's run, either. And it's not that Cordelia was sad/miserable during Seasons 3 and 4, she just wasn't entertaining anymore. I don't think she was flawlessly written in "You're Welcome" either, but she was really enjoyable.

    It's not that I don't like depressed/unlikeable characters. I do (*Wesley* is one of my favorite characters!), I just think they have to be handled with care. Buffy's character became really gloomy and world-weary in Seasons 5-7. And in Seasons 5 and 6, I think the writers (and Gellar) pulled it off excellently as those were two of my favorite seasons for her character. Season 7, however, was a different story (see many of my above posts).

    Mutant Enemy seemed to be very hit-or-miss when it came to portraying depressed/good-turned-evil characters. I think in the later seasons of Buffy and Angel, they often became so wrapped up in making the shows/characters darker, more complex and more interesting that they forgot a lot of the things that made the shows/characters so enjoyable in the first place. Willow and Cordelia, two other favorites of mine, suffered from this heavily and both feel like shells of their former selves (Cordy somewhat literally) in later seasons.

    I think it's great to examine the flaws of the characters and to show the longterm effects of the traumatic lives they lead finally taking a toll on them (which is why I appreciate the ideas of Season 6 and what it tried to do), but if the characters/show doesn't snap out of it eventually, then it feels a lot like misery porn. And I don't like seeing these characters that I love and identify with (Buffy and Willow) be perpetually miserable for seasons on end.

    Buffy's Season 6 arc, for instance, I thought was pretty well-done. However, the way her character was portrayed in Season 7 kind of weakens it for me retroactively because she never recovers from it and her issues/unlikeable traits get worse. If I ignore Season 7, I think Buffy's depression during Season 6 is the one of the boldest and most emotionally-resonant storylines that the series ever did. However, if I have her Season 7 portrayal in mind, then Buffy's Season 6 arc just seems to be the start of her character becoming less likeable/enjoyable. And yes, I'm perfectly aware that depression and personality issues, in general, are a lifelong things that people relapse into and that it would be realistic for Buffy to become isolated again as she did in Season 7. But as I've said before, just because something is realistic does not make it good television. No one likes seeing the same storylines over and over again.

    And at the end of the day, I'd rather have a flatly-written character who's really entertaining (Season 4-Spike, Anya or "Orpheus"-Willow) than a heavily complex character who has no entertainment value whatsoever (Connor, most of the time). But characters are at their best when they are both complex and entertaining (the majority of the Buffyverse main characters for the majority of the time).

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    On a shallower note, is it me or are characters more *attractive* when they're happier too? I don't think Buffy was very beautiful during Seasons 6 and 7, but when I see Sarah Michelle Gellar in an interview circa 2002-2003 (or any year for that matter), she's absolutely stunning. Why? Because she's actually emoting.
    I don't even know what happened in season 7! Obviously, Sarah Michelle Gellar is beautiful, sex symbol etc and there are some scenes in season 7 where she looks good, sadly though, most of the time she looks like trash. And it's not like Sarah suddenly got uglier! It's a combination of awful make-up/lighting, absolutely hideous costumes ( seriously, she dresses like she's twice her age and gave up on life or something, it's all, boring, drab, sexless beige and brown garbage, like, Buffy, for goodness' sake, you're 22, what are you wearing?! Buffy in season 10 looks much, much younger than Buffy in season 7 because she dresses like a person actually her age! It's ridiculous! ) criminally bad hairstyles ( I just don't understand it, Buffy used to be the hair porn majesty, the hairdo deity, like, stop wearing that awful ponytail, you look like crap, go ahead, count it, she wears a ponytail in almost every episode, it's a travesty and again, the comics Buffy looks younger just because her hairdos are normal! ) and, like you mentioned, the general lack of face expressions, Buffy's face in season 7 is basically a permanent meh emoji. It's like the show suddenly decided to make its star as unattractive as possible. And yeah, of course, I agree, happy characters ( and dare I say, people? ) are more attractive.

    I have a huge problem with Whedon's apparent belief that miserable characters makes for more interesting television. It's quite a flaw of the later seasons of both Buffy and Angel. Things get a little *too* miserable and never really quite recover on both shows (only I think it worked much better on Angel, which I interpreted as a less positive show than Buffy). But sometimes it often feel like: how can I possibly like these characters when they don't even seem to like themselves or each other, for that matter?
    I mean, why can't they just walk away and just be happy, right? It's this weird martyrdom obsession/fetish that bugs me. If being a superhero makes you miserable then...don't be a superhero! This whole suffering for the good of mankind crap is sadistic bullshit, basically. And I know that, in case of Buffy, the situation mostly makes sense because of her superiority complex and whatnot but still, that's just a band aid, really.
    Last edited by a thing of evil; 11-10-17 at 11:20 PM.

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