Wednesday, October 22, 2008

in which I try and fail to channel Bea

I'm beginning to think I have a thing for vampires. I'm well into season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer now and I love Spike. (WARNING: If you haven't seen Buffy and you think you might want to, I'm pretty sure spoilers will follow.)

For the first three seasons, I crushed on Angel with an embarrassing intensity. He was so sweet and loving and tortured (except of course when he was evil), and his taut torso didn't hurt either. I was not impressed when he decided to end things for Buffy's sake. I don't much care for that kind of condescension in a romantic relationship.

When Riley first came on the scene, I thought he might make an interesting love interest for Buffy, mostly because he didn't notice her for so long and that might be appealing for her. But as soon as they got together I was bored; he was so available and needy. The part where he wants her to cry in front of him was especially annoying. If he really loved her he would have respected her needs and supported her in the way she wants supporting. I kept thinking that he had to come back, but he never did... perhaps he never will (fingers crossed).

Which brings me to Spike, my new embarrassing crush. It occurred to me this morning, as I was walking to work (yes I think about Buffy most of the time I'm not watching it - got a problem with that?), that I think I even like him better than Angel. I've always had this idea that the series would end with Angel becoming human and he and Buffy riding into the sunset. But if that happened right now, I'd totally want her to pick Spike. Compared to Angel, Spike's so multi-dimensional, he looks like a geodesic dome next to Angel's flat scrap of cardboard. (Of course I say this not having watched a single episode of Angel, so for me he's mostly been left behind by the series. Maybe it's not fair to compare them when everyone on the show has become more dimensional over the seasons.)

In season one, I was overwhelmed by the similarities with Harry Potter, except that Harry was a girl and a couple years older. From the school setting and the teachers that could be good or evil to the arch-villain conniving to return to full power and destroy the world, the similarities were remarkable. But within a few seasons I could barely remember that I'd once thought Buffy was just like Harry Potter.

In Harry Potter's world, people might be misled into believing that someone is in a different camp than they actually were, but there isn't a lot of ambiguity; people are either wholly good or wholly evil. You might argue Sirius Black was ambiguous, but that was only because of a misrepresentation. The fact remains that Sirius is all good. The only other possible ambiguous character is Mad-Eye Moonie (shit is that his name? I have a terrible memory for details I read in books!), but the ambiguity only arose because of an evil imposter.

In Buffy's world, once upon a time (like in season one), good and evil are clearly defined. Even when Angel turns evil, he's 100% evil without a shred of goodness left. By season 4, that dichotomy starts to change. We see that demons can be victimized, and humans can be evil. Buffy begins to explore her own darkness, and that first slayer seems pretty evil the first time we see her (end of season four?).

Where I'm at in the series right now, none of the main characters fall neatly into good or evil categories. In season five, Spike is capable of great love and great creepiness. He makes me more ambivalent than any other character in the show. I *should* hate him because he can be so abusive and stalker-y but even when he's at max creep factor, I still just want Buffy to love him. I melt when he looks at her all lovey-dovey, and he always comes through in the end. And he's a lot funnier than Angel.

Of course, nobody can comment on this, because anyone who's seen Buffy will be worried about giving away the future, and anyone who hasn't, well they stopped reading in the first paragraph. Plus they probably don't have a lot to say on the subject. So I'm not really sure what the point of any of this is. I guess it's just to purge some of the obsession from my brain? Thank goodness I only have another season and a half to go. Then life - and blogging - can get back to normal.

Edited to add: Aw, man! Seriously? The episode I watched RIGHT after posting this? Riley came back. And Buffy dumped Spike; she seemed pretty serious this time, different. Now I'm sad.


Mad said...

OK, so I was always more into the side-kick charaters than Buffy's love life when I watched the show so I don't remember jonesing for either Angel or Spike. Also b/c I watched it real time Angel was gone from the picture for 2 full years before Spike became a love interest which meant that comparing the two of them never really happened.

I do think that each season has an overarching theme and, right now, you are smack in the middle of the depravity season. We'll see how well you survive it in a few weeks...oops, I meant hours. Bloody DVD culture.

Now get me talking about Oz or Anya or Johnathan and I am your girl. It's not that I don't like Spike. I love him to death. I just don't know how much I invested in him as a viable love interest. For me, season 6 is all about Willow.

No Mother Earth said...

You must see Angel simply to get a load of Wesley. (Have you met Wesley yet??) He's awful in Buffy and rockin' hot in Angel. Blows Spike out of the water, and I have a thing for Spike too.

(Btw the way, the pic of you and Swee'pea in the last post is just beautiful. I'm agog.)

Also, I was on Queen West the other day, and I saw a store that was called Cinnamon Gurl. Weird, huh?

Bea said...

The episodes I saw before watching all the seasons sequentially were from season 6, and what drew me in while channel-surfing was Spike. He is the foundation of all Buffy-interest for me, so I did the comparison the other way around - I never really fell for Angel at all because I'm just a Spike girl at heart.

(What about Snape the Grey, as a student of mine referred to him this summer? He has moral ambiguity!)

Jen said...

After watching the entire series many times, I did in the end find Spike incredibly more interesting than Angel (although his show is worth watching too).

It's funny reading your take on it- my 13 year old daughter is obsessively watching the series for the first time, and I'd forgotten not only how great the series is, but just how much things changed over the course of it.

Enjoy the rest of them :-)

cinnamon gurl said...

Mad, I think I want Spike to be a viable love interest, because I've always liked him, even when he was all evil. So I really jumped on the possibility.

Bea, you're right about Snape! I'd forgotten...

Kyla said...

I was all about Oz. Could be that serious thing I have to Seth Green, though. ;)

I liked Angel a lot, once that ended, my interest in the show waned slowly. I never finished it actually. Spike was not my cup of tea, although I did find him funny.

Bea said...

I meant to put in a word for Wesley as well and forgot, but fortunately Nomo was writing her comment at the same time I was. If Pie had been a boy, I would have named her (him?) after him.

cinnamon gurl said...

Bea, that's shocking! I can't imagine the transformation he must go through... he was so smarmy and pathetic on Buffy.

Mad, you're scaring me... I thought the beginning of the season was bad enough. Should have known things getting better were just an illusion or temporary.

NikiN said...

Well, crap. You're right, I can't say too much because I am unable to remember what happens, when. I hope it is OK to say that Joss never undervalues Spike.

Also, you do need to watch some Angel. I never really got into it (by the time his show spun off, I was finding Angel way too cardboardy and ... angsty?), but there is so much that happens with Cordelia ... crap, tongue-tied again so as not to give things away. OK. As you get to the end of the whole series, it would add some extra layers to your sense of resolution if you were watching Angel. Aside from that, there are a number of crossover episodes (for example, the bad-Faith story gets tied up over there).

Mad said...

Kyla: A woman after my own heart. Oz = Yummy. Now I feel like a dirty old woman.

I love how we Buffy heads keep coming back to check the comments.

cinnamon gurl said...

Ok fine. I'm officially convinced that Spike is NOT a good love interest for Buffy. (Just watched the next four episodes.)

cinnamon gurl said...

Oh, and I loved Oz too. But he's just a little too small for me to go overboard on him.

Mad said...

Season 6 is so dark that by the end you are begging for light. BTVS doesn't suggest that there is no black and white, only grey; rather, the show shows how no one is immune to their own potential for darkness and that doing the right thing is a combination of choice, work and the luck of the draw.

Violet said...

...and once you've finished Season 7 (which some diss but which still has some great episodes and a wonderful ending), you can find Season 8 in graphic novel form.