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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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January 19 2013

A Whedonverse series makes a 25 Worst Seasons of Great TV Shows List. I'm sure this will have some agreeing and some disagreeing.

Kind of funny that they use a picture from a different season with their selection.

Making a worst of the best seems silly somehow. And for my money season 6 isn't the worst season of Buffy. I'd also disagree with season 8 of the X-Files which i felt injected the show with new life and definitely was better than the 9th season.
I don't think a lot of people 'get' season 6. It's all about self-destruction, addiction, and growing up. Unlike previous seasons, the focus isn't on some big bad/apocalypse, and Whedon has even said that the big bad of season 6 is actually 'life itself.' Yes, there are some pacing/tone inconsistencies throughout the season, but that's largely because Buffy and the Scoobies are in a confused, self-doubting/destructive part of their lives that we all go through at some point (often in our 20s). From a psychological/character development perspective, season 6 is pure gold even if it isn't as 'exciting' as other seasons.
Season 6 is my favourite television season, full stop (if not what I think is the best). So. No.
Season 6 may be in fact my favorite season of Buffy and television. It's pretty wild that people view it as intellectual trash and overly somber. If they were going to criticize a season of Buffy, make it Season 7, which is not a bad season but a much more flawed season nonetheless.
My favourite season, too. It hooked me on the show. So, nope.
I seriously do not get the Season 6 hate. It and season 5 are my absolute favorite seasons.
Wha? This isn't the first time I've heard people bash the penultimate season but I have never understood the problem people seem to have with season six (or seven for that matter, I have a hard time picking which is my favorite between them!). I'm always about "characters" in my stories and season six delves full on into huge character moments. It does it better than most and I love every single episode!

libradude pretty much summed it up best I think. It is a season without a clear Big Bad for Buffy to punch, but that's not the threat: real life is. Though, personally I find six to be as "exciting" as any of the other seasons; admittedly for a different reason.
Season 6 of "Lost". Complete failure.
I just had to post to say that season 6 is my favorite season of Buffy. It is also possibly my favorite season of television. It really frustrates me when I see it in a list like this or just talked about so poorly. I really think it is genius, and meant the most to me on a personal level due to it's themes. Love it so much.
I have never been able to choose a favorite or a least favorite season of Buffy. I've tried, but I just can't choose. I love them all.
I have to join with the people saying season 6 was great. Right now it's my second favorite season currently(my favorite one is currently season 3).
Even if I didn't have serious objections to the change in Buffy's character in season 6, the best seasons were when they were still in high school.

[ edited by will.bueche on 2013-01-20 08:05 ]
Season 6 had "Once More, With Feeling," one of the best hours of television ever. The rest of it could have been "Plan Nine From Outer Space" and it *still* would be a great season.
I'm forever scarred by how Buffy Season 6 was viewed at the time (hint: it wasn't fun) so despite all the critical accolades for it now, I can't really bring myself to watch it that much.

Though I will say that the last four episodes are the best run of any Buffy season.
Of all of Joss' shows, S4 of Angel would be my least favourite. The narrative arc was just too convoluted, and the Cordy/Connor stuff was just plain icky.

Season 1 of BTVS is not up the standard of what followed, but it laid the foundations of the wonders to follow. And there were some great moments sprinkled throughout as well. And for what it is worth, I like Season 6 of Buffy a lot. Everything about it seemed justified in terms of character and plot development. Sure, it was dark. But it had to be, didn't it?
Season 6 of Buffy is definately my least favourite of all Joss' shows. It's the season when I stopped being able to relate to Buffy and for that reason it disappointed me a lot. However, it's still miles better than pretty much every other tv show season going so it's just nonsense to have it on this list. How rude!
Season 6 is by far my least favorite season of Buffy. It is the most depressing season of television I have ever watched. Once More With Feeling is my 2nd favorite episode of the series, but a season of Buffy is 22 episodes and one episode does not redeem the other twenty-one. To me, the breaking point is the wedding episode. If Anya and Xander had actually gotten married, I perhaps could have made it through the heavy-handed Willow addiction storyline. But with Anya and Xander crazily depressed too, the show loses almost all of its comic relief. The second half of the season, I felt like I should pop a Xanax before every episode.

Also, the idea that people don't like season 6 because they don't "get" it is ridiculous. There's probably less to "get" in season 6 than any of the other seasons. In previous seasons, there were a bunch clever metaphors, in season six there's virtually none.

I was intrigued by the writers' choice to break out every type of "jump the shark" episode. You have a musical episode, a wedding episode, an "it was all a dream" episode, a character is brought back to life episode, and there's literally a shark-headed demon at one point, but the execution is incredibly lacking.
I liked the idea behind season six of BTVS, but I found the execution to be poor. The Willow magick-addiciton storyline was overwrought and heavy-handed. Some of the monsters were a bit silly and seemed out of place -- the Loan Shark and Wig Lady seemed like they belonged in season one than the darker, grittier season six.
Season 6 was not the best season of Buffy, but it was light years ahead of Season 7. And Season 7, in turn, seemed like high art compared to Season 8...but maybe we don't count Season 8.

I also thought Season 6 was better than Season 1.

Season 6 actually had some of my favorite episodes, including OMWF, Normal Again, and Tabula Rasa.
I loved season 6 a lot and it was probably my personal favourite. I liked the way Buffy's experiences had such an impact on her and it brought her to a place in her life very familiar to me. However, I take the point that there were flaws in how the season worked, in terms of tonal balance, for example, and in dramatic shifts in character behaviour. In the case of Willow's transformation, I think it would have worked for a show that was otherwise less naturalistic in its depiction of character and personality - and it certainly bothered me less than some. It was touch and go, but I don't think it quite worked. The addiction to magic felt forced and fake from the beginning; seeming to come out of nowhere in that season.

I wouldn't regard it as the worst season, though. I thought that the pacing problems towards the end of season 5, and the far worse pacing problems through much of season 7, were more significant flaws at the season level.

Season 4 of Angel didn't work out too well, I'll admit. But it was another one I really enjoyed. I loved The Beast, whose voice turned me to jelly and who forged a weapon from his unworthy bones. And I liked that relationship between Cordelia and Connor was so icky. Connor was a messed up kid, and this really made sense to me. It made me squirm, and that was part of how it worked. (Obviously, not for everyone...)

As with many things, sometimes something may not be that great, but it might be spot on for your personal tastes and interests. And that may be the case for these seasons and me.
I like season six but I feel it suffers from the same problem as season four and seven, where there are outstanding single episodes across the year, but they don't tie together as a cohesive work as well as two, three and five do.

I'm forever scarred by how Buffy Season 6 was viewed at the time (hint: it wasn't fun) so despite all the critical accolades for it now, I can't really bring myself to watch it that much.

I love hearing your comments about the "old days" - as someone who didn't get into Buffy until late 2002 and didn't really get into the fandom side of things for a good four or five years after, it's pretty cool to hear old anecdotes from those who watched the show live.
Season 6 is one great piece of television, well planed, written, executed and acted. If I have to pick a "not super great but still really good" season of Buffy I'd say season 7 thanks to the U-turn the story and writing takes about midseason when it became clear that it would be the last one.

And when it comes to not well planned storylines and writing that seems to go all over the place ... shall we say that Angel s4 is not my favourite :/

[ edited by Satai (with Punsch) on 2013-01-20 10:49 ]
How sad, like many of you on here season 6 is one of my favorite seasons of Buffy! I understand peoples gripes with it but what Buffy went through you can't expect her to come back the same person. Though at the time of the episode I was going through a lot of personal stuff with a family member who was very sick so I could relate a lot to the season. Each to their own! (I would say Seven is the weakest season if I had to choose)
Jumping on the 'season 6 is my favourite' bandwagon. The only episode in it that I truly abhor is Seeing Red; but one dreadful episode does not a bad season make. I understand the discomfort with the season's arcs that a lot of people—including SMG— felt, but I for one am extremely glad ME "went there," so to speak. As someone who discovered Buffy right after high school, for me it rang truer, more visceral and meaningful than any other season.
Well then. Let me note that I hate season 6, just hate it. It ruined a lot of good that came before it, conflated magic with addiction and turned Willow into an addict, and used metaphors as battering rams. This was a season where Joss was less involved and it shows.
Like most here I disagree with Buffy's season 6 placement on this list. Although it certainly has it problems*, I've always thought of season 6 as one of Buffy's stronger seasons. I loved the descend into darker, but also more fresh, territories and also appreciated the mixture of the more serious subject matter with some of the most silly and absurdist things we've ever seen on the show (such as Clem, the Loan Shark and the other monsters pacer finds inappropriate for such a dark season).

The season I had expected to see listed here was Angel Season 4. Like EffulGentleman and Satai (with Punsch) I find it the weakest Whedon season by far.** It took me a long time to get through it on DVD (unlike all other seasons of Buffy, Angel and Firefly, which all went by far too quickly). Only after I'd reignited my love for Angel by skipping over to season 5 and watching a couple of episodes of that season did we decide to go back and finish season four. While the main arc sounds brilliant on paper, in practice I found it to mostly be a humorless bore and had great difficulty caring about any of the characters (only Dark Wesley stands out as a shining beacon of awesomeness).

I agree with the linked list on Gilmore Girls season 7 which really dropped the ball. Haven't seen anything of The West Wing beyond mid-season 5 (though I've seen the first four at least five times) and agree that its thoroughly disappointing, but not necessarily that Sorkin had left them in an impossible predicament. I've heard before that the show recovers in season 6 & 7, but it's still good to hear.

*I'll certainly admit that WindTheFrog is right that the left at the altar resolution of the Anya/Xander storyline was incredibly weak and I also strongly agree with all those who find fault with the execution of Willow's magic is drugs storyline.

**Except maybe Dollhouse season 2, which I still haven't finished yet. I'm not too fond of the contrived attempt in that season to manoeuver the main cast into more of a good guy role at all either, but for me that wasn't a great show to begin with.
Hmm. I'm another one who loves Season 6 of Buffy. Possibly because that was the season I started watching consistently (obsessively?) and also because I could easily relate to the themes of depression, and life as the Big Bad. I still love it! And I find it nigh on impossible to choose a favourite/least favourite season-I love them all!
It's definitely my favourite season. I couldn't disagree more.
How could they pick season 3 of Lost, when all the seasons after that one were worse?
I don't love season 6 of Buffy but I like it more than seasons 1 and 7.
Season Six is my favorite season of television ever made, and, to me, the point that elevated Buffy from "best shown on TV" to "best show in the history of tv."

I think they meant season 4.
Season Six is my favorite Buffy season. The worst season of Buffy is, in my opinion, Season Four and that is only because Adam was a big failure as a big bad. Still miles ahead of most things on tv.
I'm another one who mostly loves Season 6. There's a few weak episodes that prevent it from being quite as consistent and well-executed as, say, Season 5, but they're a forgivable side-effect of taking such an ambitious left-turn so late in a show's run.
Season five and six are my favourites. Maybe it's because I watched them on DVD rather than waiting each week for them to come out, but season six always struck me as being fun and different and sometimes downright depressing (but that's what I love about it). So yeah, I definitely don't agree with this article at all.
I like season 6, and it had great metaphors. The idea of her being resurected against her will was a perfect one about being forcefully be kept alive and happy by people who love you while you feel dead inside. I get that it was about not so much life itself, but that moment in thr life of some people where you might feel that everything is hell, and you hate yotself.

One of the problems i think season 6 had is that by being so specific, it lost a bit of universal apeal. Its not about life or growing up; its about a very specific feeling that not everybody has felt, a state of depression so deep it devours you entirely. Perhaps if the season was better scaled, modulated, with various degreees of pain, it would have worked better, but it went for the darkest pit in hell, and it relate to less people; its still a work of art that explores a human reality, but maybe getting from a show about human condition with great scope of relayable feelings for 5 seasons to a very particular one trew some people off. Maybe.

I think other problems it had was the fact that it was too dark; now, dont get me wrong. Its not that i abhor horror and darkness and want disney happy endings, wich i dont abhor either, by the way, everything has his place after all, but by going allmost full stop dark, it works less. At least for me. The trio was suposed to be the comic relief, and there was humour, but i still think that that kind of darkness works better if dealt in smaller doses, with more room to breathe; its like that old wiping metaphor; wait a while between the whipping, cause if the pain is to close in time, it looses its impact.

Season 6 wasnt only dark. It was DARK. No, wait: it was PITCH DARK. Pitch from hell that is. And it wasnt just for Buffy; everybody got dark. SO dark. We needed a bit more of contrast, bit more of life goes one for the rest of humanity, some sincere smile here and there...

Buffy was always dark, and it was always about loosing, about human frailty, about our own inner demons, our own failures; there always was dead, betrayal, human mistakes thar drove us to tears... It was also abut overcoming and facing all that with our strenghts and wwith the help of a chosen family. Life has always been the big bad. Making one season specifically so whas risky. Very risky. Much of it was greatly pulled off; some of it wasnt.

I also believe that the lack of Giles actually did hurt the show, the same way that i believe that in season 9 having the scooby gang dispersed on theire own thing or allmost absent is hurting the comic, but thats another story. The pay off was great tough. Theory tested. Yep. Loved that. There was good reasoning behind that, letting the kids walk free (i know the real reasons where Head wanting to be with family in UK more) and stumble on theire own, but his totall absence from the show did leave a big hole on it. You really dont need to flee the country to let Buffy make her own decisions, dude.

All that said... I still like it, even love much of it. Many of the ideas were great. OMWF and Normal Again were some of the best things the show has ever donbe, the trio, to me, was funny, and i love how the allmost childish attitudes of the trio got serious once murder was commited, showing what happens when a fantasy takes flesh and being evil stops being a play, i loved the shark demon episode, the invisible ray one, Rileys return (i tell you now; Riley is one of my favourite characters in the verse; a good guy done well), that beautifull exchange bettween Willow and Xander in Hells Bells that foreshadows the ending ("Do you know how much i love you?" "Not half as much as i love you.") or that wonderfull homage to Buņuelīs Exterminating Angel, and the las 4-5 episodes... One of my favourite finales of any show, with Xanders speech and Dark Willow... Dark Willow is one of the best things in the whedonverse and Hannigan pulls it off admirably.

If this is Buffyīs worst season, then Buffy really towers over allmost any show in history like a collossus.

I got a giggle out of reading "Season 6 wasn't only dark. It was DARK. No, wait: it was PITCH DARK. Pitch from hell that is." - and then looking at your username. :D

As for the topic, I'm in the camp of "S6 is one of my personal favourites, BUT I fully admit that the handling of some of the plotlines was heavy-handed, even clumsy". Be that as it may, I would not consider S6 the worst season of Buffy. IMO S1 is far weaker than the rest. Which is fair enough, as the show was still finding its feet.

[ edited by darling on 2013-01-20 15:45 ]
Season 6 isn't one of my favorite seasons but it had indivdule episodes I really liked.It's not my least favorite though.That would be season 4(or season 9 so far).Again,some great individule episodes but I didn't care for The Initiative arc.

My ranking from favorite to least favorite including the comics are.

1)Season 2 and Season 3 are pretty tied.They flip back and forth all the time for me.
2)Season 5
3)Season 8
4)Season 7
5)Season 1
6)Season 6
7)Season 4
8)Season 9 so far(just the Buffy side)

And for Angel.

1)Season 2
2)Season 4(I'm probably one of the few who really love this season.)
3)Angel & Faith in season 9 so far
4)Angel:After The Fall.
5)Season 1
6)Season 5
7)Season 3

Even my least favorite seasons though had things and episodes I liked in them.
@darling, I'm in that camp too! Nice to have such excellent company.

Darkness, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Or at least your comment perfectly captures my feelings about the season.

I also feel that full stop darkness tend to be less effective than a smaller dosage with some light thrown in to add contrast. And likewise feel there was too much dark in Season 6, especially post Once More is Feeling, when the storylines surrounding of the supporting characters also went to the darkest possible places.

Of course it also didn't help that the execution of these storylines wasn't always particularly good. I agree with Dana5140 characterization of Willow's "magic addiction" as a battering ram metaphor that was unsubtle and clashed with six seasons worth of characterization. And I already complained about the resolution to Xander & Anya's storyline either. IMO it also sacrificed years of character building for a cheap tragic climax.

And of course there also is the lack of Giles, who was indeed sorely missed.

But ultimately the season was rich in great ideas, some of which were brilliantly executed. I agree OMWF and Normal Again were absolute stand-outs, but I also loved stuff like "Life Serial", the invisibility beam part of "Gone", etc.

For me the Trio worked brilliantly when they were silly fun, and their sudden turn after the murder worked more than adequately. Their turn felt just a little bit too inevitable (i.e. the plotting felt too convenient) in its current form for my taste, but it certainly made the point effectively.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2013-01-20 22:55 ]
I don't think I could pick one favorite season of Buffy, but season 6 would be a contender. I actually love seasons 4-5-6 as one long arc. Maybe because I was an older viewer - I had finished college when Buffy started and was just settling into 'grown up' life. I enjoyed the early seasons, but I think I related more to the later seasons.

If I had to pick a worst season I'd probably say season 7; it still had a lot of good stuff in it, but I felt like they dropped the ball on quite a few things. But I still love the finale. :)
The presence of Homeland on this list seems quite silly. The show is two seasons long, but its second season can qualify as one of the worst 25 seasons of a great show? If half the show is that bad, how is it a great show?
I always felt that Season 6 of Buffy was the only season that didn't have some major flaw undermining it, such as

1. General unevenness as the show found its legs
2. The whole subplot with the Annoying One
3. Faith...ugh
4. Captain Cardboard and Adam
5. Glory (most ineffectual god ever?)
7. The potentials wasting precious screen time, Buffy's endless speeches

[ edited by YoursTruly on 2013-01-20 17:04 ]
There were some flaws in season 6, but it's still my favorite and the season I re-watch the most. I think one of the things caused so much noise as it aired is that there was a huge faction of fandom that was appalled that Buffy and Spike got together and they were not getting over that.

[ edited by Xane on 2013-01-20 17:40 ]
My favorite season is whichever one I happen to be watching at the time.
I heartily disagree. I thought they were going to say Dollhouse season one.
Couldn't agree more that 6 is the worst season. But it isn't as easy as saying the reason why is because it was somber. As artists, Joss & Co. have every right to attempt to do a storyline that's essentially somber. Though I as a viewer, was very disappointed they chose to go that way and considered it a grave (no pun intended...really) miscalculation; to criticize 6 simply for being somber is to criticize it for being what it is. Like saying you don't like Westerns so "Django Unchained" sucks because it's a Western.

No, IMHO, 6 is awful on its own terms. They chose the storyline they chose and proceeded to execute it badly.

My own theory is they got a little fat and happy and convinced themselves virtually every idea was wonderful and because of past success didn't consider them thoroughly. Of course I have no way of knowing that.

None of this applies to Once More with Feeling which we all know is absolutely brilliant.
IMHO, season 6 has a great re-watch value, because it becomes much more bearable once you know the ultimate outcome. I won't call it one of my favorite seasons, but I put it above S4 in emotional impact, and way above S7 in overall integrity and delivery. And that is coming from somebody who hates OMWF with passion. I think S6 has the strongest opening sequence, and I always feel that the cathartic relief of the last seven episodes ( yes, Seeing Red included ) is a great payback for the mid-season horrid awfulness. But I suppose seeing S6 first time through on DvD was a contributing factor for me. I do understand why BtVS suffered the most audience lost through it and why historically they put it into the worst category.
Season 6 is my favorite season of Buffy and IMO one of the best seasons of the show, so obviously I disagree about that. But I also find this list pretty silly overall.

OK, I haven't seen many of the seasons listed (I'm still to see Homeland season 2 - though I find it hard to believe that it's that bad, especially with what the rest of the list looks like) but from what I have seen: yes, season 3 of Lost was inconsistent in its first half and there was one really bad episode in the middle, but its second half was, IMO, when the show peaked, with its best run of great episodes, and one of the greatest season finales ever. I don't think Lost ever got as great again. I don't see what was so bad with The Wire season 2; season 8 of The X-Files rejuvenated the show and was leaps and bounds better than the awful, lackluster season 7, and I feel that it's on the list only because the author didn't like the fact Mulder wasn't around, even though Duchovny had actually been sleepwalking through the role in season 7, while Robert Patrick was a great addition to the show, and the show got back to its old, dark feel after trying and failing to be a comedy in season 7. The Simpsons season 1 wasn't great since the show hadn't hit its stride yet, but it was much better than most of the last 10-15 years of that show.

@YoursTruly, I think you may be the only person in the world who considers Faith a "flaw". :)

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2013-01-20 18:57 ]

[ edited by TimeTravellingBunny on 2013-01-20 18:58 ]
I join those who said season six was their favorite season of Buffy. I agree it has great re-watch value.
I'm going to have to partially agree. Season 6 was bad, Season 7 was worse. The absence of Joss as showrunner and Giles was deeply felt as the show became Shonda Rhime's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
While I definitely find a great deal about the middle nd end of Season 6 disappointing, I think if a season of Buffy had to be on this list it should DEFINITELY have been Season 1. It's just so cheesy compared to the later seasons and it's arduous work dragging people through it and trying to convince them to give the rest of the show a chance.

Also, I disagree completely about LOST season 3. I feel that the second half of that Season may have been the finest run of episodes in the entire series, including eps like "The Man Behind The Curtain", "One of Us', The Man From Tallahassee", "Greatest Hits" and the brilliant "Through the Looking Glass" to name just a few. Season 6 is the weakest season of LOST to me. The early temple episodes seemed like something from a bad B-movie, as did much of the finale, including the "heart of the island" and the cliched final battle between Jack and Locke. While there were some strong eps, it certainly contained many disappointments.

Also, Battlestar Galactica Season 4, Veronica Mars Season 3, Dexter Season 6, and Supernatural Season 6 could have been mentioned.
I definitely do not agree that season 6 is the worst of the series. It is actually my second favorite season of the series, behind season 5. I just think that most people don't get what the season is all about, they are expecting some big bad to pop up and add turmoil to the scoobies lives, when the turmoil is there bubbling under the surface the whole time.
@pollaxt: "The absence of Joss as showrunner and Giles was deeply felt as the show became Shonda Rhime's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" "

That's like saying that the first three seasons were Kevin Williamson's Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I agree with those that season 6 was the weakest. One part the heavy-handedness (magic=drugs), one part the moping. If I hadn't watched the previous 5 seasons of Buffy, I would not have been interested in any of the characters for most of the season. Putting a burden on them is fine, but the show needed to remind the viewers that they weren't normally this dreary.

Then again, I liked Angel S4, especially the ambition, even though I recognize a number of things that ended up not working.
Season 6 is when I started to go off Buffy as a character, and a show.

Angel Season 4 was great...til the Jasmine arc:-)
I could agree that there are some not so great episodes in season 6 specially the starting episodes, than buffy often had a bad start (season 3 excluded), than it is as least for one of the best. Have to line up with some other no's here.
The existence of this discussion (and the interesting points that various writers bring to it) is in some ways a significator of the success of S6 and of the whole series. Buffy the show exists at whatever level you want it to exist: teen romp, monster of the week, high school drama moving into young adult drama, school-is-hell, growing-up-is-hell, the secret life that teenagers try to keep hidden from their parents, stepping out of the protection of parents/parent figures to become self-reliant adults, the series's developmental arc of accepting responsibility and overcoming our innate negative tendencies through the choices we make... there are a lot of ways to look at Buffy. S6 succeeds as well as any of the seasons of Buffy in provoking this- mythic storytelling at its modern best- even if some of the particulars are weak and at times labored.

And Giles has the best re-entrance into the series that he could possibly have had. I'll forgive a lot of the unevenness of some of the episodes in exchange for that. "I'd like to test that theory" is one of the best moments in the entire show.

The biggest problem I had with S6 was one of the smallest moments: the closing shot of "Normal Again" (of Buffy catatonic in an asylum). That shot delegitimizes the entire show, in a way. It becomes a schizophrenic girl's set of delusions and hallucinations and the meaning of that is very different than if we suspend disbelief and accept the show as having a reality. There are other explanations and interpretations that look at this shot in a different light, but as a psychologist IRL I have a tough time with this moment and consider it a significant faux pas. It probably seemed cool and ambiguous on the page.

The other big problem I had with S6 was writing Xander as a coward at the end of "Hell's Bells" when he leaves and lets Anya face the church full of people on her own. It was a device to turn Anya back into a vengeance demon (and to explore the fact that we can never go back to being what we were) but I was never really able to like Xander again after that- and he was pretty hard to like at times already, IMHO.

Is S6 the worst season of a great TV show? I don't think so, despite the problems with it that I already mentioned. I think the weakest season of Buffy was S1, which makes sense since everyone was still finding their feet in the Buffyverse. S3 and S5 are my favorites, but S6 had some wonderful episodes: OMWF, "Tabular Rasa," even "Older and Far Away" (a retelling of Sartre's "No Exit"). I suspect OAFA is one of many people's least favorite episodes of S6 because it highlights Dawn at her most annoying, but IMHO that emotional reaction is a mark of its success as an episode.

My wife and I are in the midst of Slayerfest 2013, rewatching the series from beginning to end. We do this every winter and each time I find more and more things I didn't notice or understand before. Amazing.
I still hold with it being a season of complete deconstruction and destruction of its characters. Loveable Willow now a junkie, Xander a cowardly asshole, Buffy a beeyatch, Anya back to being a demon and Giles essentially MIA. It had misogynistic little bads, one of whom is still around and as deplorable as ever. Oh, and Spike a rapist (whom Buffy will come to love again, just like she does the other fellow who has sex with her without her agency, whathisname, oh yeah, Angel/Twilight), and Tara, the one person who was the show's moral compass, dead from plot need. It was dark, yes, but I felt it was soulless. I guess that makes it a vampire season.
If I had to pick a worst season of a great TV show I'd go with Angel season 3. Buffy season 6 was a huge risk, and for me it paid off. I think the first few episodes are very strange but after Once More with Feeling everything gets more coherent. I love that all the characters have a very individual arc in season 6. And Willow is specially awesome that year.

Buffy season 7 was a huge disappointment to me. I still love it, it's still Buffy and it's better than whatever was on TV at the time and much better than what is on TV now. But from the start you could tell it was planned as a last season. The end of Lessons always felt like an announcement of the end of the show to me. Still, I don't get why Spike is all over the place with nothing to do until the very last episode and why the potentials had to have so much screen time. Selfless, CwDP and Showtime were the only highlights for me this year. I still think Lies My Parents Told Me was na attempt to recreate the awesomeness of Fool For Love and Faith had a much more interesting arc in 3 episodes of Angel than she had in 5 of Buffy.

[ edited by danielgm86 on 2013-01-20 21:05 ]
Just to add, I am a season 6 fan. I hate to say it but the second half of season 7 with all the potentials is my least favourite.
I'm another fan of Season 6. As an exploration of serious depression and recovery I don't think it has an equal anywhere.




Plus, naked Spike. Come on, you know some of you were thinking it!
Oh come on! You can't say season 6 is worse than season 1. What a bunch of malarkey.

Season 6 also happens to be a lot of people's favorite season, BTW.
My season 6 outline...

Epically disappointing and tragically portentous two part opener; clunk; clunk; clunk; something to sing about; the door to The Magic Box opens and I laugh long enough to get me past a few more clunks; clunk; clunk; ongoing weighty metaphor; artless, dramaless, humorless, arguably inappropriate sexual content; Doublemeat Palace (WHOPPER OF A CLUNK (See that there?)); vile villains which needed to be handled with far more skill to not be offensive (and not merely offending); mini yay for Riley's Return (Never understood the Riley hate.)/My hat has a cow (gets me through a few more...).; Seriously? The wedding? (I give up...); waste of an interesting idea in Normal Again (similar to the mishandling of the entire season's theme (And I've suffered from long term clinical depression so would have loved to have loved it.)); sad about Tara; I'd like to test that theory.; epically disappointing final battle-lite; joyfully redemptive final few seconds. With embarrassingly cartoonish demons interspersed.

Aside from moments (There's always, thankfully, moments.) I felt little but disappointment throughout most of it (but happy for those who enjoyed it).

Okay, more a synopsis, really...

[ edited by Brett on 2013-01-21 03:59 ]

[ edited by Brett on 2013-01-21 04:07 ]

[ edited by Brett on 2013-01-21 04:08 ]
I love season 6. I think it's a great culmination of what seasons 4-5 were leading to. Xander always had a asshole-ish streak; Willow had always had moments of incredible, disturbing selfishness; Buffy was self-obsessed and heading into depression by the middle of season 5, so as a whole, I think season 6 was just a natural progression of where all the characters were heading.

I love the way it handles depression - hats off, because few films, shows or ANYTHING really have handled it as earnestly, or as fearlessly. And I love where it takes its characters. It also helps that I really love Spike.

Many elements are very clumsily handled: Seeing Red is just unbelieveable, though hearing James Marster's explanation helps a lot; Willow's addiction; Xander's ditching of Anya at the altar, and especially their fallout afterwards. But despite these definite flaws, it is a strong and very emotional season. It's not particularly pleasant, but neither is real life... I think it's the most realistic season: it depicts that stage in life where people begin to grow up and change, drift apart, and really face life as individuals. I admire that the characters stopped being so sympathetic. The show acknowledges this, and so do the characters themselves. Yet in the end, they remain friends and stand by each other and accept each other as they are. It all makes sense.

Now, season 7, on the other hand... at least in season 6 Giles is absent and not becoming a horrible shadow of his former self...
I expected it to be Angel S4 as well, I let out an audible groan when they jumped into another baby arc just after the one in S3.

Lost Season 2-6...j/k...kinda

Simpsons S1?! WTH man
I love season 6. It's hard to watch, punching home much to often, but I think it's brilliant.

Season 7 is also great just look what great things Sophist has to say about it (he's almost at the end oh his reviews)
I think the problem with season 6 isnīt that itīs dark. The show was dark beforehand and was dark afterwards.
Firstly, it suffered from a lacking plan. It would have been better if the dark tones would have been reduced after OMWF because this is actually a turning point in the story. Buffy hast told everyone how she feels and instead of her friends helping her, who became in season 4īs penultimate episode a part of her, she disconnects and nobody really cares. Thatīs not how the characters have behaved before and there was no real reason why they did then. That made me already wonder the first time I saw the episodes when they aired.
Secondly, they stretched out too many storylines too long. The self-desgtruction storyline would have been better wrapped up after episode 7 and then start a recovering storyline. It would have fitted the character, the fighter Buffy, and the other characters who helped her usually to go through. It wasnīt plausible that Buffy got into a quasi-bdsm storyline, which was poorly executed (deus-ex-machina explanation Buffy came back wrong, so Spike can hit her; thatīs cheap Lost writing). Especially "Tablua Rasa" would have been a decent way for the characters to move on, because they forgot their problems. That they reverted back to old problems at the end of the episode was so untypical "BTVS" because Joss always said: "Characters need to change."
It really felt like Joss had a few ideas about season 6, went on to other projects, and everyone on Buffy tried to stretch these ideas as long as possible (I mean, the first three episodes are basically the season opener, another stretched out storyline).

The problem about the Willow-Storyline wasnīt that it was stretched out too long. It even wasnīt itīs metaphor of drug addiction, but the way the metaphor was presented. It wasnīt decent given like with prevoius metaphors, but crashed at you like a sledgehammer. Less would have been more.

The loan shark and other characters like Clem were great and funny, the problem was that they were too over the top in this season. With an established real, real dark tone these characters seemed like coming from the other end of the spectrum, so that the bigger picture seemed unbalanced.

And finally, late in the season it felt like they are running out of ideas. That Xander left Anya at the altar was heartbreaking but still okay, if they would have ended up together again. That the characters didnīt ignored the development of Xander over the past years in the relationship with Anya. He wasnīt the immature school-boy anymore, so why falling back into old patterns? No explanation.
Not to mention the casual sex between Spike and Anya. (that really came out of nowhere).

I think they have had some decent ideas, but they executed them badly. Joss influence or overlooking was definitely missed, expecially in the second half and thatīs why, at least to me, season six is the weakest.

[ edited by N27 on 2013-01-21 08:17 ]
I feel like people have a tendency to poke plot holes in Season 6 because they don't like how dark it is, when in any other season they'd happily ignore those plot holes because of all the great emotional character stuff that makes up for it.

I do think there is a lot of truth in the idea that people who haven't experienced a dark, hopeless time in their life themselves might not be able to relate to the characters that season, and therefore feel they act out-of-character - when, to many of us, the way the characters act that season feels all too real and familiar.

I know that the first time I watched Buffy, Season 6 was by far the season that resonated with me the most because of where I was at in my life at the time, and I was so grateful that the writers had taken the time to show how common my feelings were and that there is a way out of them.
Season 6 is a mixed bag for me, and in the end I tend to agree with the list, it just didn't deliver. Which is weird, because it has so much going for it:

Trio was awesome.
Willow as the big bad was awesome, right on par with the other best big bads.
S6 has some excellent episodes in addition to the spectacular OMWF.

However, the addiction (and to some degree Buffy's struggles) were handled so heavy handed, that it approached the awfulness that was Beer Bad. Preaching against substance abuse for one bad episode is one thing, doing that for half an awful season is another. "Willow's got an addictive personality, she just tasted blood." Really?

If the drug metaphor was silently edited away and replaced with eg. power corrupting, the season could well be among the best there is. But as it is, for any buffy rewatching I'll just have to do the editing manually, skipping episodes or parts of them...
Hands down the best portrayal of depression I've ever seen on TV. S6 is worth it just for that.
@allthingsaverage I agree with your idea that there is probably a strong degree of correlation between people who really like season 6 and people who watched Buffy for the first time after their own period of "sleepwalking through their lives' endeavors."

Perhaps it's like Barney Stinson's Ewok line :)

I for one really liked season 6. I liked that actions had consequences, that unlike in Anne and Dead Man's Party, it took Buffy a long time to find herself. I liked the realism of trying everything, even self-destructive things to "wake-up." I liked that Willow's tendency to fix everything with unilateral magic - Wild at Heart, Something Blue - spiraled out of control.

That all being said, I completely understand why there are so many fix fics out there that try to ameliorate the issues of the season.
@Eerikki: I'll disagree with you on "Beer Bad", which I liked. That was a comedy episode, and the heavy handedness of the "message" was part of the joke. ("Beer bad... Beer bad... What the hell am I saying?") The addiction (and as you say, some degree of Buffy's struggle) was taken very seriously, which made the heavy handedness more grating.

Besides, Beer Bad has the absolute best Buffy line, with Brendon saying (bombastically) "Pfft, nothing can defeat the penis!"

[ edited by OneTeV on 2013-01-21 15:58 ]
Dana5140 said:
I still hold with it being a season of complete deconstruction and destruction of its characters. Loveable Willow now a junkie, Xander a cowardly asshole, Buffy a beeyatch, Anya back to being a demon and Giles essentially MIA. It had misogynistic little bads, one of whom is still around and as deplorable as ever. Oh, and Spike a rapist (whom Buffy will come to love again, just like she does the other fellow who has sex with her without her agency, whathisname, oh yeah, Angel/Twilight), and Tara, the one person who was the show's moral compass, dead from plot need. It was dark, yes, but I felt it was soulless. I guess that makes it a vampire season.

Exactly. I always hear the "some people don't like S6 because it's too dark." Well, no. I don't mind going into the dark. Some of my favorite stories are told there. There's a world of difference between "dark" and abrupt character assassination. When did Buffy and the Scoobies all become a bunch of selfish, irresponsible cowards? It's not "dark", it's an inexplicable estrangement from everything those characters had previously stood for that stretches on for the whole season... and elements of it linger still. Willow, Xander, but particularly Buffy... she was written to be an inspirational role model. She wears that hat. I've had trouble respecting her, much less admiring her since S6. I work on it. I try to remember who these characters were, but the writers through S7 and into the comics seem to be unable to let me fully forget who they've become... and on balance, they're not particularly admirable or likable people anymore.
I've never seen people work so hard to so completely undo all they had done- and this over a period of 5 years. I believe to this day that Joss' involvement with so much else left him unable to completely oversee Buffy, and a raft of new writers and top dogs tried too hard to put their own stamp on the characters, without any nuance as to what had come before- a problem I strongly feel is harming the current comic series. Most of us know far more about what makes these characters tic than do anyone currently working on the comic outside of former Buffy TV writers.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2013-01-21 18:27 ]
Season six was when I became obsessed with Buffy (and no, not just because of Spike.) It was the timing. After 9/11, TV was trying to be all cheerful and avoidy, but that wasn't a time when I felt like being happy. Buffy reflected my mood that season.

Okay, and Spike.
Weird how some people stopped relating to Buffy in this season. It's the Buffy I've been able to relate to in the absolute worst times, which I think makes this season the absolute most powerful one. That numbness while you go through the motions. I've never seen numbness brought to the screen in such a relatable, powerful way, while still maintaining a lot of humor. This is both the darkest season, as loads of people have been saying, and possibly the funniest. I know a lot of people hated the trio, but if there had been a serious villain that season, it would have been unbearably heavy television. They needed that comedy element hardest that season, and it provided great contrast with all the dark storylines. Of which I loved almost all of them. Season 6 is a season I look forward to getting to whenever I rewatch the show.
I guess putting a bit more in rather than my initial thought:

The basic thing about season six is not that it is dark, it is that it confronts the very real possibility -- or rather, a possibility that feels very real to many people, especially sufferers of depression -- that the world simply isn't worth it. This is what distinguishes it from all other seasons except possibly season five, this is what hurts so badly. It's a season that is in its own way about suicide -- about seeking oblivion, from Buffy's longing for her death to Willow's attempt to bring "sweet death" to all the "suffering souls" on the planet. It presents as a very real possibility that life -- IN PARTICULAR, adult life -- is simply too painful to be worthwhile, and it does so across the board, with (nearly) the whole cast, as well as presenting as the seasonal villains the Trio who are so afraid of adult life that they hide in fantasy and, in Warren's case, will ultimately kill for it. And hey, wow, look at that -- Willow does memory spells to create false realities for herself, Buffy nearly kills her friends so that she can be in a mental hospital. It's a season about reality so painful that oblivion or illusions seem the only way out. And it still ends with real life, in spite of/because of(?) all its faults, being worthwhile.

There are execution problems. In order to convey the points about reality/fantasy the metaphors were rearranged in fascinating but at times confounding ways. But oh god, this is something else. You would be shocked and a little worried for my mental health if you knew, dear Whedonesque readers, how much time I spend and/or waste thinking about this year, weighing all the criticisms, so many of them legitimate, and even some aspects of the season that do rub me personally the wrong way, against the what it does and accomplishes for me. I'd like to say with certainty that there's no question that the season's virtues dwarf its flaws, but I can't quite say that; there are some choices that I find hard enough to parse even after all this time that I'm pretty sure I can't state it. But oh, it's the root of my Buffyverse obsession, ultimately, more than any other year. I identified Xander and Willow on the cliff there, the possibility of hope and forgiveness through love being the one thing that can make sense of a world so painful it has to be destroyed, as maybe the most important moment of the series for me the day I saw it. Not the best, not necessarily the most profound, but the closest to the core. You can't earn that, or Buffy's tearful thank you to her mother in the fantasy before she leaves it, or Spike's getting his soul, or Buffy bringing Dawn into the joys of adulthood, without being fearless (or nearly so) staring into the abyss of what life and adult responsibility -- both senses of responsibility (both "things one has to do" and "things one CAN do") can be.

I'm sorry for everyone for whom the story doesn't resonate, or for whom the flaws in execution outstrip the intent, or so on. But it is what it is. Willow's end-of-season burst of global nihilistic rage captures a certain feeling that I have had better than anything else I've seen. Buffy's depression is the best portrayal I've seen of that. The self-loathing every character has, but especially Buffy and Willow and Xander and Spike, is painful and cutting. The season feels to me, like the whole show but EVEN MORE SO than the whole show, at once intensely personal and universal, utterly mundane and completely mythic, and in addition to all of that it is about the interplay between the mundane and the mythic. And, wow, what a year it is.
WilliamTheB- there is no right nor wrong when it comes to liking or disliking a television program. While clearly this season resonated for you, it just as clearly did not for me. There is no reason to feel sorry for me, or for anyone else, because of that. If it helps with coping, if it carries meaning for you beyond its simple existence, that's all to the good, and I would not gainsay anyone for whom this season provides solace, meaning, or anything else. It is, after all, just TV and how TV affects us cannot be predicted, nor does it always have to make sense. For me, S4 resonates strongly. It is rarely anyone's favorite season, but it is mine. CSI S4 resonates for me, and In Treatment S1 does as well. What resonates does so for reasons we may not clearly understand. Listen, they wrote an entire book on S6, "Buffy Goes Dark," wherein all these crit scholars discuss the season. But this season fails to move me at all. It disassembles too much of what came before it.
S6 is one of my least-favorites as well, not because of the themes it was addressing, but because of HOW they were addressed. I mean, sure, sometimes the metaphors on Buffy weren't all that subtle, but in S6, they became anvils.

I LOVED the idea of using "Life as the Big Bad" to deal with depression and self-destruction. Those are great themes to address in a show that's all about growing up, and I thought it was the perfect time in Buffy's story to address them. They just...didn't handle them well, imo. So I like the ideas and themes behind S6 a lot better than the actual execution. That, and I'll never like the direction Spike and his relationship with Buffy took in that season.

Still, no season of a Joss show is a total loss, and S6 gave me OMWF and Tabula Rasa, for that alone, it gets awesome points.
@Simon sez:

I'm forever scarred by how Buffy Season 6 was viewed at the time (hint: it wasn't fun) so despite all the critical accolades for it now, I can't really bring myself to watch it that much.

Though I will say that the last four episodes are the best run of any Buffy season.

My wife and I have watched S6 a couple of times; I've seen it a couple more, including the second half of its original airing. I remember the online nonsense around S6. 'The Kitten Board' was a particular source of anxiety/strangeness.

Simon's quote blows my mind, because I think the first third of S6 -- through the musical -- is just about perfect, and the closing arc is a mess, thrilling and atmospheric but (partly because of its weird structure and pacing) much less like late S3 or S5 than early S6 had been. Even though S6 is much much better than S7 at most of the things a season of BtVS needed to do, and the same goes for their final movements, the climactic episode of S7 is so much deeper and more successful than any S6 ep post-'Normal Again' (thanks Joss!) that I can't help but prefer the tweens-in-danger stuff to the 21yr-olds-with-Sarah-McLachlan S6 washout.

I'd note, by the way, that the idea that fans have a 'better idea of what makes the character tick' than the writers is the precise (false, faintly ridiculous, understandably appealing) claim that makes so many writers dislike hardcore fandom.
I respectfully disagree- we have in-depth knowledge of the show that new writers cannot yet possess. We often see things they do not. This does not make us right or wrong; it is just the way it is.
@Dana: I am sorry for the use of the "I'm sorry" language -- I didn't mean to be condescending or whatever. Ultimately I'm insecure and figure that if I like it so much and others don't, I'm probably wrong, and I am trying to get out of that mode of thinking. It makes me sad that the season is so divisive for selfish reasons -- that it makes me doubt my own experience.

@waxbanks: Aw. Well for all their flaws, I think that the run from Normal Again to Grave actually might be my favourite on the show -- and I think that the weird structure/messiness actually really contributes to the feel of these episodes, signaled by the title and some of the dialogue (Tara's in particular) of "Entropy," of everything falling apart (order having been lost) and all feeling of structure and, more importantly, meaning having left the building and the characters struggling with that. The contrast with the beginning makes total sense -- the run through OMWF still has everyone tightly wound and clockwork-orderly before the singing forces everything out. Then comes the flailing about. There is a looseness to the final few episodes that I think allows the characters more room to try (sometimes in vain, eventually with some hope) to figure out what's important when there are no more devastating external threats until Willow remakes herself into one. I think that looseness serves the season's themes in a big way. Though this might just be my way of writing off structural weaknesses of a thing that resonates with me emotionally. Still, "Chosen" by contrast has felt so tight that it can't quite breathe -- and while it hits the notes on Buffy's story very well, I have never quite felt that the rest of the cast was entirely well served or had real moments to themselves the way every other finale has supplied them with.

[ edited by WilliamTheB on 2013-01-22 15:27 ]
I just re-watched all off Buffy and Angel over the past few months. I rememberd all the drama blowing up on the boards during Season Six, but couldn't comment at the time. There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth as each episode rolled out. It's interesting (and encouraging?) that people's impressions have changed over time.

I had no problems with Buffy's decisions or actions. I can remember Buffy's confession at the end of "Dead Things" and having that "Ah, I get it!" moment. My biggest beefs were Willow's "addiction" and Spike wanting his soul back. I never bought Willow as an addict, I would have rather seen her getting more and more comfortable with magic, and taking more of a "Road to Hell paved with good intentions approach." How does someone with litte power or confidance handle becoming the most powerful of all?

Spike's turn to me smacked of pandering to the fans. We like Spike, let's make him a hero. It also weakened the idea of vampires as pure evil. If Spike can want to be come good, then other vampires could want it as well, and Buffy's role as the Slayer becomes much less black and white. Despite all that, people really like the character, and Spike's growth once he got his soul was handled well. He was also great in Angel Season 5.
I think it is beyond ridiculous to put S6 of BtVS up as the worst season personally. The show had depth and involved character development and plots beyond what its branding often led people to expect of it and this season is one of, if not the best, example of that imo.

Spike's 'turn' came from the combination of the specific contribution his personality and innate motivators made to the unusual circumstances of being chipped and loving Buffy and that is what drove it forward. I personally think SR had its place in his story and that it all progressed very organically. It is safe to assume that it wouldn't be a situation other vamps would have, want or somehow develop.

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