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April 04 2011

Buffy came back wrong. A spectacular in-depth analysis of Buffy's depression in Season 6.

In this complete nine-part series, Gabrielleabelle takes an in-depth look at how depression is portrayed in Season 6, how it affects Buffy's behavior and perceptions, how the other characters react to her depression, and eventually explores Buffy's recovery by the end of the season.

It's worth adding that the discussion continued in many of the comments is also awesome and leads to a real depth and range. The initial analyses are superb, though, I agree.
Excellent point, Gill. :)

This is a long series, but I hope new readers will give it a chance. I think it's an ambitious, insightful project on a subject notorious for being misunderstood.
I have so much homework to do, bookmarked for later. This looks really, really interesting. I cannot wait to dig in. If only American History were as interesting as in depth analyses of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Definitely worth a read.
My only quibble with the portrayal of depression in season 6 is that the resolution of it is very... circumstantial? It's about her realising the value of life, and in particular, her life. She has very little deliberate help in that, and definitely no medical help.
I don't want to go down the path of seeing depression as purely medical, but season 6 seems to me to advocate a kind of philosophical cure - which many people can't arrive at without the help of some kind of professional.
This is one of the reasons I loved season 6 and never understood the hate some people have for it. Buffy's return from death was very, very well handled and thought provoking.

Course, I naturally enjoy dark stories and this was Buffy's darkest season. I could wax poetic about all the things I loved about season 6. It's underrated
I thought that the reason so many people hated season 6 is just because it's extremely uncomfortable. Everybody's suffering, mostly worse than they have so far. But suffering is nothing new in the Buffyverse. The difference with season 6 is that they are suffering alone, isolated, instead of together. It's a really disturbing and uncomfortable experience, even if it is good storytelling.
Can I just say how thrilled I am to see a LiveJournal entry linked here? Some of the best meta in the fandom is posted on that site (like Maggie's episode analyses).
It's a really disturbing and uncomfortable experience, even if it is good storytelling.


Yes, Season 6 is painful to watch. Brilliant, but painful. It's hard to detach from the characters enough to see how well-constructed the season is, because as a viewer you're identifying with the characters you love and suffering with them (or being angry at them for suffering and making poor decisions).

Season 6 explores the dark matter of the Buffyverse and that's a scary proposition for most of us who want to believe the fairytale that our heroes are always heroes.

[ edited by Emmie on 2011-04-05 02:24 ]
I never loved Buffy more than in season 6 because I admired her so much for struggling against her depression and trying so hard to fit into the slot of "normal".

No matter what Buffy said or did in 6, I always saw the brave sixteen-year-old girl who put on her white prom dress and went to what she thought was certain death.

Deeply moving analysis, thanks for posting the essays.
Sorry for double post.

[ edited by Reddygirl on 2011-04-05 03:38 ]
Thanks for the link. I'm halfway through reading them all now. I eat up analysis like delicious cake, but there's a lot in here that I hadn't considered. Probably due to my own blinders on the subject, perhaps relating a little too much to S6 Buffy on occasion. Absolutely fascinating, if a little close to home sometimes. I'm enjoying reading this immensely.
I really feel that season 6 introduced some of the coolest elements and moments of the series. I'm glad others enjoyed it too. I had a long post listing many of my favorite moments, but didn't know if I should get that spoilery
Since we're on the topic of Buffy's depression in season 6, I thought I'd share this fantastic fanvid -- No Longer Feels Like Home -- on the subject. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Jet Wolf -- Glad to hear you're enjoying it. And yeah, it was hard for me to see some of this on my own when it does hit close to home.

Arkham258 -- I don't think talking about favorite moments in season 6 qualifies as spoilery here. It's been almost nine years now. :)

[ edited by Emmie on 2011-04-05 04:43 ]
From what I can read, this seems really interesting. Either livejournal or my computer won't let each article fully load without refreshing the page a lot...I will bookmark this and try it again later though. :)
Glitch_Doll -- unfortunately, Livejournal is glitching today (ha, unintentional pun!). I hope you get a chance to read it in full. :)
Excellent, excellent analysis. The only way it could be improved would be to take this level of focus and attention to detail and apply it to the whole season.


Right there with y'all on the "I relate to this a little too well." I think one of the best bits was where the author struggled to articulate the feeling of disconnection while analyzing "Going Through the Motions" -- a perfect moment for me, because I always just use the song to explain that numbness, that disconnect. And the Spike/cutting comparisons are extremely astute. Believe me, I know.
Wow. Just wow. I have to say, this has sort of revolutionized both my impression of season 6 which I want to rewatch now, and my own personal experiences of late. Gotta internalize some lessons now.
For what it's worth, the Jane Espenson penned tale "Again, Sunnydale, California, 1999" in Tales of the Slayer Volume 2 gives a fantastic insight into Buffy's Season 6 state of mind. There's a stunning scene where S6 Buffy tells S3 Giles about the future.
Would you summarize, Simon? I don't have the comic, but you've made me curious!

[ edited by Emmie on 2011-04-05 20:25 ]
It's not actually a comic, it's a short story in an anthology. You can actually be really cunning and read most of it for free thanks to Amazon.com (assuming you have an account there).

Click on this link and do a search for Giles and then make your way to page 324 on the left hand side. You'll be able to read about 85-90% of the story. If you want to see the missing pages you could do a search for Buffy, Xander or Willow. Or you could buy the book and its fellow volumes. They're pretty good.
Just finished reading the whole thing and have to say it made me cry right at the end. It has made me re-evaluate season 6 for sure, I mean I always felt like Buffy was judged too harshly in the whole season for having legitimate feelings but this really opened my eyes.

I agree with ManEnoughToAdmitIt, I would love to see more in depth analysis of the whole series by this writer.
Here are some of the things I loved about season 6, some of which are the very things people hated about it:

1. The episode where they teased the idea that Buffy was just a crazy girl with delusions of being a slayer in a supernatural world as an escape from her real world. I loved the ambiguous ending too. It's fun to mess with the audience like that I think
2. The Trio. It was a nice switch from the usual big bad formula and I thought they were funny. Plus, I could relate to some of their geekiness. I liked Johnathan a lot
3. Evil Willow - She was quite cool as a villain and I like the idea that Buffy can't fight magic, much like superman can't. This was one big bad Buffy simply couldn't defeat
4. Xander saves the world - He finally got his big moment
5. Once More with Feeling - I really don't even need to say anything about this episode really
6. Tara's death - I know she had a lot of fans, but great stories need meaningful character deaths. This is really the only thing that could realistically turn Willow evil. Nice to see a realistic death on Buffy too. You never expected to see someone die by a gun shot on a show like that.
7. Buffy resurrected - I kind of like how Buffy's life constantly defies the natural order of things and that it has consequences. An idea they play around with on Supernatural a lot. That show so often makes me think of Buffy/Angel. I like how Buffy stripping Willow of magic in season 8 seems like karmic retribution for Willow denying Buffy heavenly bliss. There is something very not right about the Buffy/Willow relationship ever since season 6 and I see further conflict for them going into season 9. It is interesting to me how both of them seem to go against the natural order of things in the world and even the universe with their actions(the slayer spell in Chosen, Willow defying death). Do Buffy and Willow play god too much?
8. Spike gets a soul - This season made it happen and I always found it fascinating that a soulless evil creature would WANT a soul. Spike has always been an anomaly among vampires in a lot of ways and this proves that
9. Willow - This season made her more interesting to me than ever and we perhaps are still seeing the effects of season 6's events on her even now
10. The sort of existantial quality of the season - This is the season where everyone really looked at themselves to see who they really are and we as the audience, saw some of their darker, uglier sides. This makes season 6 very Angel-ish

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