Heresy of the Week: Season Six was Buffy at its best


buffy season six

So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged regularly about much at all. Gone, apparently, are the days when I used to churn out hundreds of words each day onto this site about, well, nothing at all. Nowadays all I seem to manage is the occasional book or film review.

Well, enough of that, I say. I miss those heady days, so in an effort to shift myself from this moribund blogging-rut I seem to have fallen into, I’m going to steal an idea straight from ConservativeHome: heresy of the week. Yet unlike the erstwhile keyboard tappers of the centre-right, I won’t be boring you all with my politics. Instead, I’ll be boring you by entertaining the unthinkables of geek culture — as a rhetorical game, if I can’t find an argument I actually buy. I’ve got a few ideas to be going on with, but I’m always open to new suggestions.

So to kick us off:

Season six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the shining pinnacle of Joss Whedon’s masterpiece of a TV series.

For those who aren’t familiar with Buffy, season five was its final outing on the WB network, before it moved to UPN. The ending of season five being damn near perfect, season six had a fairly rough ride. In the minds of the fans, it doesn’t seem to have leapt so inspirationally high as its siblings.

And yet, here we start to see Buffy and the Scoobies dealing with life. In truth, that started in the season five episode “The Body”, with Joyce’s death — rightfully and repeatedly ranked as one of the best TV moments. But here there’s no war to fight, no ongoing big bad to struggle with. Instead, they get to grapple with life, and it’s not pretty.

Buffy gets a McJob. Xander and Anya cock up a wedding. Giles doesn’t renew his contract goes back to England. Willow and Tara face relationship and addiction issues. And Buffy completely fails to deal, and starts another of her trademark godawful relationships; with Spike.

The machinations of the laughable Trio are hilariously ridiculous, but that’s really the point. Evil “geniuses” aren’t scary. Jobs, bills, relationships are scary.

And that’s before we even get to the triumphant glory that was “Once More With Feeling”.

Basically, whilst season five was when Buffy made the transition from fantastical teen entertainment to serious drama about real people, season six underscored it. We were already in love with Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles, and after the heavy sacrifices made in “The Gift” for Dawn, we were sort of obligated to care about her too. And that’s why season six shone. Because it was cruel to them, and made us realise how much we cared.

Not to mention, Xander and Willow’s long but decidedly underplayed friendship saving the day in the end was the perfect hurrah for the series’ underlying values.

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