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July 05 2004

An Analysis of Cheese as Metaphor in Buffy the Vampire Slayer "So I have made it my mission to discover and reveal the secrets of the cheese guy. And I think I may have cracked it."

Lots of links to various episodes. A good read.

Very entertaining. Thanks for that but it didn't need a spoiler tag so I've removed it.
wow. I never realized there was so much cheese, are more likely so much emphasis on The One Cheese to Rule Them All...

or something...
No wonder I love BtVS and AtS so much....I love cheese!!!
*grin* I was developing a very similar theory to this with a friend of mine. Now we can quite the research and revel in this one.
Love it!
Now if only someone would investigate the shrimp thing all would be explained. :)
Coll, interesting theory! Now I'm wondering if I secretly have issues with Buffy herself, because I have an immensely strong dislike of cheese...
yea, i like the way people who watch the show ( incl ME! ) keep the little things in mind, the whole cheese guy now makes sence, he always bugged me cuz i wasnt to sure what the hell he was for, but then again keep in mind that the little things mean more than yall think, * you cant fool me joss * jk , actually its not hard, but anyways , theres also this little thing too thats getting to me, do any of you remember helfreck? anyas demon friend?, in season 6, now do any of you remember the ep where dawn made a wish and the gang got traped in the summers house? well when helfreck came back to undo the spell, she seemed to know who spike was, and, then the pause, and then..... well nothing really, but what the heck? there has to be somthing with that, how did she really know who he was, he knew her too, that still gives me the creeps, Joss, make this make sence, please? im all confused, there has to be a back storie to it, somthing to clear the air, ok sorry for potentionally changing the subject, please continue...
The actress who played Halfreck was the same actress who played Cicely...the woman who William loved...but did not return his feelings. I think the pause was just a nod to people who realized this fact.

[ edited by Coll on 2004-07-05 16:12 ]
Drew Goddard said that Halfrek is Cecily (the one Spike wrote poems about when he was a human).
I now remember! YAY!
Heh. You know, I wish I had this much time on my hands. Can't wait for the cereal installment. ;-)
Yes, Kali Rocha who played Cecily and Halfrek finally cleared it all up in one of the issues of Buffy Magazine. She said that definitely Hallie and Cecily were one in the same.

I was so happy to get closure on that.
Very interesting stuff! I had a few similar thoughts myself, but this went even further and makes sense! :)
It's clear that Cecily became Halfrek...when she sees Spike, she doesn't say "Spike...?", she says, "William..." which makes it obvious that she knew him pre-vamp, but not after he was turned.

On topic, sort of: The other day I was cooking and, to my wife's amusement and bemusement, sang, to the tune of "A World Without Love", "I don't care what they say, I won't stay, in a world without cheese."

So put me squarely in Coll's column!
OH. MY. GOD.
I never even realized all those references to cheese before. I can't imagine Joss not having some meaning to the cheese guy, even though he denied it. Now I want to back and watch some of those episodes mentioned! I don't know how he does it, but Joss is amazing!
Intriguing.

And I like the Halfrek/Spike bit because it shows that William would have make Cecily a better husband than whoever else she chose, a man she didn't think was "beneath her."
And Spike gave one last shoutout too Cecily in the Angel finale, during his poem session. That was hilarious. I loved how he finally got someone to appreciate his poetry.
Wow. Amazing. I didn't think that there were SO many cheese references. Just hope Joss reads this..
Lizard said:
It's clear that Cecily became Halfrek...

Actually, Halfrek is talking with Anya in one episode about being witness to the Crimean War (1854-1856). The first time we see Spike and Cecily, it's 1880. Now I know we were never given an estimate for how old William was supposed to be when he was vamped, but you see how the ages don't match up, right? Cecily couldn't have been adult and witness to the Crimean War if she was human during that period (I doubt she was even alive, though she could've been a baby during the 1854-1856 period). I think what was intended is this (and I'm not the first person to come up with this obviously, it's been speculated to death)--Halfrek was posing as a human and using the name Cecily when she met William. She had integrated herself into his society for a time, and most likely left it some time after he was vamped.
Kris, that's an interesting take; I like it!
I think the whole cheese thing is yet another Monty Python reference (the Cheese shop sketch). Someone needs to do a paper on Whedon and Monty Python. Some of you have probably "heard" my thoughts on this before....
Very interesting take, Kris, and I like it too. It makes excellent sense--maybe Halfrek/Cecily was simply trolling for vengeance opportunities in Victorian English society where she met William, just as Anyanka was doing when she met Cordy in "The Wish," (and how Hallie herself posed as a guidance counseler at Sunnydaly HS to grant Dawn her wish.)

Meaning, I was rash in saying that "it's clear the Cecily became Halfrek." Given the chronology, it seems more likely that Halfrek became *Cecily*, for a while, at least. She still would have known Spike as William, and he easily could have recognized Cecily in Hallie.
On the cheese thing: It's an interesting article and raises some intriguing and possibly valid points. I have to object to his opening statement though: because Joss says the cheeseman means nothing there are only 2 possibilities? Either lying or in denial? Uh, I love false logic too, but the third option is that there really is no meaning to the cheese man and that his entire article is like looking at a rorsach blot and seeing all kinds of patterns in it.

Hey it's absolutely possible he's right on everything, but it's also quite possible Joss would scratch his head and wonder what this guy is on about if he read this.

On Cecily/Halfrek, when my wife and I saw that ep we knew it was the same actress, and we were wondering if they would 'do' anything with it. When she and Spike recognized each other and she even called him 'William' there was no doubt in our minds she was Cecily. It is cool to have a writer confirm that that was indeed the idea though. Always regretted they didn't follow up on it. I know there was no space but it could've been a cool sub-plot.

And yeah, it's been established Vengeance Demons can assume human identities complete with 'background'. Anya was an officially listed student of Sunnydale High. No problem seeing how Hally could be a victorion aristocrat if she chose so for a while.

One thing though, just because she was a Vengeance Demon doesn't mean she became one because of a man betraying her. Scorned women was Anya's thing. Halfrek's forte was children wronged by parents or 'daddy issues' as Anya put it....;-)
You guys are thinking way to much about the cheese thing. You guys need to go lie down or something.
I agree with you Ed that that line about Joss is in denial or lying really isn't fair. It really could all be major coincidences. I've always thought that anyone could make a connection to unrelated things if they put enough thought into it. I think Joss should just take the credit for it anyway because we all know he's a genius and he must've done this subconsiously with that big brain of his.

I also would've loved to have had more opportunity to find out about Cecily/Halfrek too. That was a golden opportunity that they didn't follow through on.

They could've done a flashback where Halfrek is trying to do her demon duties and William keeps following her around like a puppydog getting in her way trying to read her poetry and that is what leads up to her insulting him. He could've kept popping up just as she's about to get her target to say "I wish.." and there's William, with yet another poem he wants to share. She didn't mean anything by it, just wanted to get rid of him, and because of what she did it led him to Druscila and the rest is history.
400lb_Gorillla, I can't lie down, I'm hungry now.

[ edited by Caleb on 2004-07-06 00:07 ]
They could've done a flashback where Halfrek is trying to do her demon duties and William keeps following her around like a puppydog getting in her way trying to read her poetry

Hee!
If William was attracted to Halfrek in her Cecily guise, and it looked like she was his only focus, does this mean he was always drawn to the dark side? Is this another reason Dru was drawn to him?
I don't think there's really a consensus about the Halfrek/Cecily thing. I'm pretty sure I remember one of the writers saying it was just a little inside joke to acknowledge the fact that they were played by the same actress, but they weren't actually meant to be the same. Can't remember where I read/heard that though.
No, again, I READ in one of my issues of Buffy magazine, that Kali Rocha, THE WOMAN WHO PLAYED CECILY AND HALFREK, said that yes, teehee, they were one and the same! OK???
I wrote this at the TV Tome site shortly after "Restless" aired. It's still on the site! They didn't print my name, so I have no proof that I wrote it, but I did. Really. :-)

"I think that the cheese man did have a meaning or rather, the cheese did. I believe it was a reference to the children's song "The Farmer in the Dell" and the line "The cheese stands alone." The cheese is Buffy. For Xander, it was meant to tell him that Buffy will not always be able to protect him and that he has to protect himself. To Giles it was meant to convey that the Watcher controls the slayer, she does not control him - and his frustration that unfortunately that has not always been the case. For Willow, I think it's meant to convey that she sees herself as being "very small" and able to fit into the small spaces in Buffy's life, as well as in the world. Having said all that, I also think that perhaps Joss put the cheese motif in there for two reasons, one being what I just wrote, and the other being for comic relief for those who did get the meanings and for those who did not. That way the cheese man served a purpose for all.

[Editors note: Actually Joss himself said that the cheese man was meaningless comic relief but this analysis is too good to leave out]"
i think the author wrote the whole thing with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek. ;) the way i read it, she was being ironic when she said joss is either lying or in denial. and the cheese! brilliant. :D

edit: aha! nice work, barbara.

[ edited by orphea on 2004-07-06 00:26 ]
The old "does the creator get the last word" arguement. This happens to me in classes all the damn time. You get these kids who will essentially look down upon hundreds of years of scholarship because the author/artist/whoever never said so. Well, if Shakespeare's word on his works are the only and final that matter, then what am I paying thousands of dollars for?????

A little harder to apply to Joss because he is still around for us to talk to and his work has yet to really age. But I sincerely hope that there is more to the art of Buffy than just what Joss says or else soon enough the scholarly 'verse will die, rather than grow richer with time.

Maybe it's just because I'm totally buy this cheese arguement....
How 'bout Hallie having been a Vengeance demon but maybe having been turned back to human just like Anyanka was (twice) because she did something wrong (vengeance wise). Maybe it was during one of these interim "human" times that she met William?
he easily could have recognized Cecily in Hallie.

See...Thats the thing. He DIDN'T recognize her. He sees her in demon face in Older and Far Away, and never actually registers who she is. He just says "hey..wait a minute" or something like that. I interpreted as him being confused on how she knew his human name. But..in Entropy, Spike sees Halfreck in her human face. I have no doubt in my mind that Spike would've recognized Cecily if it was supposed to be the same character, if they ever intended on this being a actual fact I believe they would've taken the chance to make that a fact in Entropy. And they didn't. So its not canon, I honestly don't care what the actress or DG said if what I see on screen contradicts it.
Drew Goddard said on the DVD commentary in season 7 (R2) that Halfrek is Cecily. And when there was a moment between Halfrek and 'William', it's pretty clear that it is the same person. They also had to change the timeline to make it fit with the fact that Halfrek is Cecily so it is the same person. When you hear the commentary for 'Selfless', you will all agree.
The Cheese Man

I loved this article! I know Joss said the Cheeseman meant nothing; however when he appears during the dreams sequences he does say very pointed things ("I've made a little space for the cheese slices", "These will not protect you", "I wear the cheese. It does not wear me") . Great article! The cheeseman was always too deliberate in what he said and how he was placed to be accidental, and meaningless, and just comic relief.

Cecily in Hallie

I knew it was the same actress - at some point I heard that they cast the same actress by accident and hadn't realized that the same woman had previously appeared as Cecily when they cast her as Halfreck. It is cool how the writers then had some fun with it. I never worked out the dates so it is neat to think Cecily was really Halfreck looking for business.
I love the cheese man theories...they make sense to me...but just a thought here...you could easily switch his dream quotes around to any of the characters and can come up with them making sense. "These will not protect you"...could easily go to Will...(Buffy & Tara being shot..??...or maybe...becoming evil Willow...etc.etc...) "I've made a little space for the cheese slices"...could easily go to Xander...(You may never be Buffy's romantic lead...but there is a space in her heart for you always...)......I guess I'm just agreeing with Blwessels...in the fact that you can see what you want in anything if you look hard enough. BUT ALSO...I'm still loving cheese and still loving BtVS & AtS!!! ;)
i think the author wrote the whole thing with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek. ;) the way i read it, she was being ironic when she said joss is either lying or in denial.
I read it the same way and enjoyed the article much more because of that. From the very beginning, where she states that Joss was either lying or in denial which i found very funny and not at all intended to be serious she sets up her argument with the full realization that this may be all a zealous fan's over-interpretation of something that was in fact originally meaningless, in the same vein of so much that's written in academia. All that said, i really enjoyed her interpretation, which is pretty solid and creative and the numerous references to cheese in the buffyverse that she compiles! - and I liked it all the more because she didn't take herself too seriously.
Hello? cheese? oh crap, I think I started somthing with my stupidity, cheese people cheese, i mean, come on, the poor bloke put time and effort in writing about cheese, isnt that kinda sad? stay on the subject please, * looks sadly *, pew eese? ....... nah, hehe
What fun speculation. I have nothing to add except a couple of quotes:

"The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." ~ G.K. Chesterton

(But not the writers of BtVS, for which we can all be grateful.)

"A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be oversophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk's leap toward immortality."
~ Clifton Fadiman, American writer and editor; New Yorker book reviewer


(Much like cheese, Buffy may have suffered variations in quality over the years, but she never lost her essence, right up until she passed into the hallowed annals of greatness. Some would even argue that Buffy's latter-season funkiness -- her sometimes 'stinky' cheese-mold crust, if you will -- was an inseperable part of what made her who she was, and that it was a natural outgrowth of her character. Fuzzy gray spots and all. ;)

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