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March 21, 2003
OPINION
Oh Grow Up
by Daniel Erenberg

I like getting emails from people I know, makes me feel better every morning.

"Oh Grow Up" was how Joss Whedon described his show, Buffy The Vampire Slayer's sixth season prior to its beginning. You can see it as early as the first act of Bargaining Part One. This wasn't the Buffy you were used to. However, many fans looked at this as a bad thing. They wanted what they wanted but what they wanted wasn't what would have occurred to his characters. Joss knew what his characters needed because his characters are a part of him.

Season Six of Buffy depressed the Hell out of me but it was like a car crash. It was too terrible to look away. I don't use the word 'terrible' as an adjective to describe the quality of the shows; on the other hand I use it as an adjective to describe what our beloved characters were going through. Season Six of Buffy was darkness.

I'm using this article to finally defend one of my favorite years of my favorite show. A lot of people e-mail me when I mention my love for the season because they're horrified by my perceived 'bad taste' and ask me when I started watching the show. People think that the only reason someone could ever enjoy season six is if they started watching in season four or later. However, you can't chalk it up to this because I, very proudly, am one of the 3 or so million people that watched "Welcome To The Hellmouth/The Harvest" on its first airing.

Like all of you, I loved all of the high school stuff (seasons 1-3). In fact, the character and era I probably identify with most is Mr. Alexander Harris from season one, but I can't see how one cannot identify with the sixth season. I guess if you're an eighth grader, I can see not really 'getting' the season. It's all very mature, without any focus on High School topics. It's about what happens when you come to the realization that you're an adult. It's about the conquering power of love, not to mention the powers of addiction, sadness, and grief. It's about when it feels as though your life is Hell. These are all feelings that I, and, I'm sure, many other readers of this column, have experienced.

One of the only problems I had with the season, that I think some others may have had with it, was the length of the first and last episodes of the season. For the first time, Mutant Enemy decided to attempt 2-hour long episodes and, I think, they failed. Buffy has long had such fantastic success with two-parters and these 2-hour opuses felt a bit long-winded to me. Having re-watched them on FX as two episodes, I enjoy them far more. I can't believe that they missed such an opportunity to have Giles enter to save the day at the end of "Two To Go" and make the fans have to wait until the following week to see what would happen.

However, a main complaint of the fans that I thought was pulled off rather brilliantly was the exclusion of a Big Bad. Joss Whedon came up with a fantastic answer to the question fans had been asking all summer: How do you follow up a fight against a God? You don't. Season Six did not have a tangible Big Bad. There was the Legion Of Nerdly Doom and there was Dark Willow in the final three, but there was no obvious threat as in past seasons with The Master, Angelus, The Mayor, Adam, and Glory, only the character's emotions. That's right. The characters were fighting with themselves in season six and making Willow bad at the end only went to prove this theory even more.

So many people tell me that they think the only "great" episode of season six was "Once More With Feeling". I, however, always disagree with these people wholeheartedly. There are so many great episodes. There's "After Life", "Life Serial", "Tabula Rasa", "Smashed", "As You Were" (with my man, Riley Finn), "Normal Again", "Seeing Red", and "Two To Go/Grave". Season six was a consistently great year.

(To all you naysayers, I'd recommend re-watching "As You Were". Please don't hate Riley. For more on this, go back and read an early article of mine entitled "Captain America".)

Too many Buffy fans are still in a High School mindset. They are of the mind that there should be more scenes set in the library, that Dawn should have died in "The Gift", that Xander's gotten too fat, that Buffy's gotten too skinny, that Willow should like guys again, that Giles should be a regular, and that Joss Whedon should still have sole executive producer credit. Well, here's a stance I don't hear often: THING'S CHANGE!!! That's right. In life, things change, and, thus, so do they in Buffy.

I don't have a whole lot more to say that would fit into this format, but if you have any nitpicks, any differences of opinion, any firm agreements, or any confused questions, please e-mail me.

(For more on the subject of season six, you'd do well by yourself to read the wonderful Keith Topping's latest extraordinarily interesting book, Slayer: An Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To Season Six Of Buffy The Vampire Slayer).

Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of websites for free). Currently, he's writing his first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence. He lives a fairly happy life alone and hankers constantly for the hour of eight P.M. to nine P.M. on Tuesday nights. You can contact Daniel on daniel@slayage.com.
Latest Comments

Hey, don't mind me getting all offended at a throwaway comment...but I was in eighth grade during season six, man. I got it. 14 doesn't equal prude and/or naive.

on the subject, I loved season 6. It was depressing and wonderful and possibly one of the most realistic seasons I can remember.

Posted by: Riddle on February 19, 2004 09:00 PM

Season six is one of my favourite Buffy seasons. I can never understand why it got such a bad reaction. Maybe it does have something to do with being from the UK - as someone on here has already suggested - that we somehow seem to appreciate the darker side of life. This season is all about becoming an adult and having to face up to the fact that life is hard. As a slightly more mature viewer, I can identify with many of the issues in season six - the emotions that the characters go through are extremely moving. I know many viewers hate season six, and are going to totally disagree with me, but hey, wouldn't life be boring if we all liked the same things? Maybe it says something about me - I don't know!

I am still coming to terms with the fact the show has finally ended - even though I do feel that the time was right.

Thanks Daniel for your brilliant articles. Long may they continue!

Posted by: cal on December 13, 2003 07:57 PM

I'm glad I'm not the only one who loved season 6. Everything else I read about it is bashing it for "not being funny." Well they obviously weren't paying attention that well. There was plenty of funny in season 6 (i.e: Tabula Rasa, any episodes w/ Clem, early episodes w/ the Trio ). I really liked season 6 b/c, at the time that I watched it, I was going through a depression like that. I couldn't feel anything and I didn't care about anything that happened to me. I cut myself and took pills and sometimes didn't leave the house for days. That was for a different reason than coming back from Heaven, of course. It was due to childhood issues which reared their ugly selves back up just when I thought I had beaten them down. I couldn't talk to anyone about it. Death was starting to sound better and better everyday. Buffy season 6 was therapy for me. It was nice to see someone going through the same thing I was, even if it was a fictional character. That's why I really have a problem w/ anyone who says season 6 shouldn't have happened. Because, if it weren't for season 6, I probably wouldn't be here right now.

Posted by: Delia on November 14, 2003 12:22 AM

I loved season six, and all the time I was watching it, my friends were saying "what the hell? it's crap!". Season one... well I know it was only starting off and I really like some episodes, but as a whole it's not as good as some of the other seasons. I very much enjoyed season two of Buffy, I think Spike and Dru were wonderfully likeable villains, and then came Angeulus! That was a stroke of pure genius. But season three seemed a tad... i dunno. All the episode were kind of the same, not that many standy outy ones. The Buffy/Angel show got a bit old, and there weren't really any places they could take it.

Season four was almost like a new show, but I loved it. Despite its disjointedness, they kept it going. Then there was season five, my favourite of all seasons. I can't really explain why... it just has that special something! The relationships between the characters really grew, and I thought Glory was a very scary big bad, and The Gift my favourite finale. Season six was great. It was depressing, and the big bad not exactly menacing, but it was entertaining the whole time. I didn't like a lot of the things they chose to do *cough * anya and xander's NOT wedding *cough* but the acting all the way through the season was excellent.

I can't really comment on season seven yet, I know I really liked it, but I'm going to wait for a while and rewatch every episode in order so I can form a proper opinion about it. There were some great episodes - 'Selfless', 'Same Time, Same Place', 'Storyteller' and 'Chosen' but not enough screen time for many of the "regulars".

Posted by: amelia on October 3, 2003 12:03 AM

Daniel,

What you said is very well put. Season six is probably my favorite season of BTVS, even though the season isn't too popular with most fans. Being in my twenties, I can attest to the fact that the transition from adolescence to adulthood can be, well, quite depressing. Most people have a difficult time adjusting to adulthood. It's a time when people make some bad choices, try to make a living by working at a job that pays next to nothing, and discover that a lot of the things that they were told when they were younger really aren't true. At times, life as a young adult can feel like living in hell. I was really able to relate to what the characters were going through during season six, and I agree that the tone of the show has to change as the characters enter different stages of life.

Posted by: Tom on August 23, 2003 05:35 PM
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