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Old December 1 2012, 03:22 AM   #1
Kestrel
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Buffy Season Six

So, I've been watching Buffy off and on for the better part of the year, usually in spurts of a season at a time. I took a lengthy break after Season Five because it was so excellent overall and ended more or less perfectly, and also because I'd read so much poo-poohing of Season Six and its "darkness/depressing-ness." But I've gone back to it and... I've been watching it like a madman. I've got 6 episodes left (just finished Hell's Bells... ouch) and will probably finish it in the next 3 or 4 days.

So I'm wondering, why the hate? It's depressing as hell overall it's true, and I haven't gotten to the death of Tara even (I'm fully spoilered, no worries), but it's... exquisite pain, if that makes sense. Everything seems right and the character beats all make sense - Buffy's disconnection from the Scoobs (pulled from heaven was a brilliant decision) and use of Spike, Xander and Anya's eventual breakup, Willow's addiction and Tara's leaving (funny how a character I was fairly lukewarm towards back when she was first introduced has become so wonderful)... just all of it really. Even the Trio, as much of a step down as they are in villainy, fit with the more toned down approach towards the supernatural and focus more on their lives.

This isn't like Angel Season 4 where Joss & co. misstepped and some of the major arc points just seemed petty and mean and ugly. Is the aura of depression on Buffy S6 making it sad? Yes, but it makes sense too and it's played so well, imo. I hate what these characters are going through but none of it feels "wrong" if that makes sense. And of course some of the individual eps (Once More With Feeling!) and character moments are just brilliant.

Anyway, I guess I'm just wondering why it seems to get a lot of dislike, assuming I'm right that it does? So far I'd rank it behind 5 and just a bit behind 3, but equal to 2 and better than 4 or 1.
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Old December 1 2012, 04:06 AM   #2
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Re: Buffy Season Six

The show is an action comedy. Season Six had very little comedy, and even less action. It was depressing. It was too "real world". There was very little plot and no major villain. It wasn't fun.
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Old December 1 2012, 05:58 AM   #3
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Re: Buffy Season Six

So it was more the general direction of the show that you just didn't care for?

That's fair enough, but the intrusion of real world issues wasn't entirely new - some of the biggest emotional beats of Season 5 were Joyce's illness, Buffy's relationship with Dawn, and of course Joyce's death. There is less overt comedy I'll grant (though I'm still laughing quite a bit at various things), but it fits the direction it's going.
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Old December 1 2012, 06:13 AM   #4
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Re: Buffy Season Six

For me, it was The Trio. The Scooby Gang spent five years facing down one unimaginable evil after another and then these no rate nothings show up and preoccupy the whole season until one of them irks Willow into being the real Big Bad for the season. I didn't mind that Buffy's PTSD, Tara's death, Giles' exit, or Willow's fall. I just kept waiting for someone, anyone to stomp The Trio to death so some better antagonist could come along.
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Old December 1 2012, 06:51 AM   #5
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Re: Buffy Season Six

Yeah, I think that's it. The Trio rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way at the time because they didn't seem like a real threat for the Scoobs and it appeared as if the show was backsliding.
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Old December 1 2012, 07:48 AM   #6
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Re: Buffy Season Six

Growing pains, perhaps? I loved season 6. it was a season i only recently got access to, and my watch/rewatch was thoroughly enjoyable. Yes, i'm/it's older now~ but maybe that helped. i had to see if the show was enduring. it was. I'd love to watch it with younger girls, someday... She's a great Role Model.

It was akin to reading 'On The Road Again' as a Grown up. I was Nom Nom to both when i was initially exposed... Sadly for my Admiration of Jack, i think the series outlasted the book.

Not as a reflection of the culture, obviously, but in it's resonance to my own life & where i've been.

Granted, i've never staked a Vampire~ but the tropes are as relevant Today as Yesterday. Enjoy.
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Old December 1 2012, 10:19 AM   #7
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Re: Buffy Season Six

I actually agree with you almost entirely, Kestrel. I don't have a problem with season 6 - in fact it was the first season of the show that I bought on DVD. I will grant that perhaps the episodes are a little too one-note - too much misery and angst all at once, rather than ups-and-downs of angst then comedy then action then back to angst, but all in all I think it was a valid direction for the story and the characters to take, it was done well.

I also don't have a problem with the Trio, aka the Legion of Dorkness. They were hilarious because you know full well everyone on this board has had exactly those same arguments over who was the best Bond or "Bazoombas! Bazoombas!" Just like people don't like Adam from season 4, even though to me he was the perfect thematic counterpoint to the Scoobies' character arc that season, the Trio is the perfect thematic counterpoint to the Scoobies' character arc this season too.

Joss always said the theme of the season was "Oh, grow up!" The characters are forced to face real life and become adults. Real life is the Big Bad. But the Trio refuse to do the hard work of growing up, of facing real life as it actually is and going through the process. They try to side-step the process altogether, using their powers as a short cut to becoming successful or rich or getting the girls. And that refusal to do the hard work of growing up leads to disaster. (Willow, by the way, does basically the same thing by turning to magic to solve all her problems, which is why she is also a villain by the end of the season.)

I don't think it's any coincidence that after vampires and demons and cyborgs and hellgods, it's a bunch of human nerds that cause the most damage to the Scoobies. Again, it's all about the theme of "real life" - facing the horrors that humans can do to each other. Buffy can't fight them in the same way she can vampires and demons - it's always been a part of the show's and the character's morality that she can't kill humans. The human world has its own laws for dealing with them, and she's supposed to only deal with supernatural threats. But in this show about magic and monsters, it's one human shooting another human with a gun (a very human weapon) that is the big turning point of the season, and that's absolutely deliberate.

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Old December 2 2012, 02:06 AM   #8
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Re: Buffy Season Six

The show should always be rising in threat and scale. The previous series Big Bad was a god of a hell dimension. This season it was three nerds. Not to mention Buffy's pathetic existence as a single mom working in a fast food restaurant. Surely the ultra rich Watchers Council can afford to give her a paycheck for saving the world over and over? Also, no Giles. Oh and this was the season of Buffy boning evil Spike too. Unforgivable. I forgot about all the bad things that year.
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Old December 2 2012, 02:28 AM   #9
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Re: Buffy Season Six

Season 6 sort of falls in the middle of the pack for me. It's better than 1, 4 and 7, but not as good as 2, 3 and 5.
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Old December 2 2012, 02:52 AM   #10
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Re: Buffy Season Six

lvsxy808 wrote: View Post
I actually agree with you almost entirely, Kestrel. I don't have a problem with season 6 - in fact it was the first season of the show that I bought on DVD. I will grant that perhaps the episodes are a little too one-note - too much misery and angst all at once, rather than ups-and-downs of angst then comedy then action then back to angst, but all in all I think it was a valid direction for the story and the characters to take, it was done well.

I also don't have a problem with the Trio, aka the Legion of Dorkness. They were hilarious because you know full well everyone on this board has had exactly those same arguments over who was the best Bond or "Bazoombas! Bazoombas!" Just like people don't like Adam from season 4, even though to me he was the perfect thematic counterpoint to the Scoobies' character arc that season, the Trio is the perfect thematic counterpoint to the Scoobies' character arc this season too.

Joss always said the theme of the season was "Oh, grow up!" The characters are forced to face real life and become adults. Real life is the Big Bad. But the Trio refuse to do the hard work of growing up, of facing real life as it actually is and going through the process. They try to side-step the process altogether, using their powers as a short cut to becoming successful or rich or getting the girls. And that refusal to do the hard work of growing up leads to disaster. (Willow, by the way, does basically the same thing by turning to magic to solve all her problems, which is why she is also a villain by the end of the season.)

I don't think it's any coincidence that after vampires and demons and cyborgs and hellgods, it's a bunch of human nerds that cause the most damage to the Scoobies. Again, it's all about the theme of "real life" - facing the horrors that humans can do to each other. Buffy can't fight them in the same way she can vampires and demons - it's always been a part of the show's and the character's morality that she can't kill humans. The human world has its own laws for dealing with them, and she's supposed to only deal with supernatural threats. But in this show about magic and monsters, it's one human shooting another human with a gun (a very human weapon) that is the big turning point of the season, and that's absolutely deliberate.

.
This is a pretty good analysis of the season. People who didn't like season 6 are people (and you can see it by the comments in this thread) who feel that the show did not live up to their expectations of what the show should be (no big bad, not enough humor, Buffy's poor choice in men, etc.), not because the show itself was actually reduced in quality.
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Old December 2 2012, 05:48 AM   #11
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Re: Buffy Season Six

Kestrel wrote: View Post
So I'm wondering, why the hate? It's depressing as hell overall it's true, and I haven't gotten to the death of Tara even (I'm fully spoilered, no worries), but it's... exquisite pain, if that makes sense. Everything seems right and the character beats all make sense - Buffy's disconnection from the Scoobs (pulled from heaven was a brilliant decision) and use of Spike, Xander and Anya's eventual breakup, Willow's addiction and Tara's leaving (funny how a character I was fairly lukewarm towards back when she was first introduced has become so wonderful)... just all of it really. Even the Trio, as much of a step down as they are in villainy, fit with the more toned down approach towards the supernatural and focus more on their lives.
The reason for the hate is because nothing felt right and none of the character beats made sense.

Willow getting addicted to the power of magic makes sense; going to a crack house to shoot up does not make sense. Xander's life finally coming together with his job and his relationship, but throwing it all away over fear of becoming like his father does not make sense. Giles randomly disappearing for no god damn reason to force Buffy to stand on her own two feet after a severely traumatic life experience does not make sense. Dawn randomly deciding to become a kleptomaniac (which is ignored and forgotten after a few episodes) does not make sense. Tara's random death caused by a physics-defying bullet fired by a gun in a Mel Brooks film does not make sense. As for Buffy and Spike's arcs, well, they do make sense, but they sucked.

As for the realism, I can't agree at all. Sure, The Cosby Show was unbelievably fake with its goody-two shoesness, but doing a complete 180 to Married With Children territory doesn't make things any more realistic. Basically, it was a season of Deus Angst Machina rather than the realistic trial and tribulations of life.

"Deus Angst Machina wrote:
So, your character is angsting. It seems that his dog just died in a freak accident. That accident involved his kindly uncle, who didn't swerve in time to avoid the poor puppy. However, he did swerve in time to go off an embankment and hit a bus full of high school students, killing many, including his beloved girlfriend, to whom he'd just been engaged the previous day. Unfortunately, the shock of the news caused the protagonist's kindly old mother to have a heart attack, which left his father devastated. More unfortunately, economic recession hits, and the character and his father are left without a job and sunk neck deep in debt. The character's brother turns to robbery, but is caught and thrown in prison. Poor Daddy turned to drinking and lost all will to live, and finally shot himself (along with several others in a mad shootout), leaving the character all alone in the world to deal with the trauma. And that just happens to be the day when the mother of all earthquakes lays waste to the whole city, including the character's house. Our character (who now has to live on the streets) is pulled out of the ruins, perhaps having suffered a crippling injury, and is taken to the hospital, where the doctor diagnoses him with cancer.
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Old December 2 2012, 06:45 AM   #12
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Re: Buffy Season Six

Yes, i'd call that ^ Uber~Angst. But i do not agree that it describes BuffyS6...

Here's Hoping none of us {or our worst enemies..} in real life EVER experience ANY Facsimile of the Post-existential-Pre-Suicidal-Angst as described above. Not even TV characters.

Growing up, however, will always be hard to do.

Plus ça change...
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Old December 2 2012, 07:04 AM   #13
Kestrel
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Re: Buffy Season Six

I can see how the Trio would annoy people to some extent (Andrew especially, dear god what an obnoxious character, I'm not looking forward to seeing more of him). Although having finished up the season now, I ended up being much less bother by the way Warren died than I expected - because it was pretty quick, and because he really was too stupid and unlikeable to live at the end.

lvsxy808 wrote: View Post
I actually agree with you almost entirely, Kestrel. I don't have a problem with season 6 - in fact it was the first season of the show that I bought on DVD. I will grant that perhaps the episodes are a little too one-note - too much misery and angst all at once, rather than ups-and-downs of angst then comedy then action then back to angst, but all in all I think it was a valid direction for the story and the characters to take, it was done well.
Yeah, I can see this, that it's a bit too much, too heavy. I wouldn't want the entire show to be like this, I'd be drowning, but for one season it works.

lvsxy808 wrote: View Post
Joss always said the theme of the season was "Oh, grow up!" The characters are forced to face real life and become adults. Real life is the Big Bad. But the Trio refuse to do the hard work of growing up, of facing real life as it actually is and going through the process. They try to side-step the process altogether, using their powers as a short cut to becoming successful or rich or getting the girls. And that refusal to do the hard work of growing up leads to disaster. (Willow, by the way, does basically the same thing by turning to magic to solve all her problems, which is why she is also a villain by the end of the season.)

I don't think it's any coincidence that after vampires and demons and cyborgs and hellgods, it's a bunch of human nerds that cause the most damage to the Scoobies. Again, it's all about the theme of "real life" - facing the horrors that humans can do to each other. Buffy can't fight them in the same way she can vampires and demons - it's always been a part of the show's and the character's morality that she can't kill humans. The human world has its own laws for dealing with them, and she's supposed to only deal with supernatural threats. But in this show about magic and monsters, it's one human shooting another human with a gun (a very human weapon) that is the big turning point of the season, and that's absolutely deliberate.

.
Agreed overall with this analysis, yup. Though, Adam as a thematically appropriate foe, really? I don't have anything especially against Adam, but he was just... meh. Frankenstein but not done especially well, I guess.

Mr Light wrote: View Post
The show should always be rising in threat and scale. The previous series Big Bad was a god of a hell dimension. This season it was three nerds. Not to mention Buffy's pathetic existence as a single mom working in a fast food restaurant. Surely the ultra rich Watchers Council can afford to give her a paycheck for saving the world over and over? Also, no Giles. Oh and this was the season of Buffy boning evil Spike too. Unforgivable. I forgot about all the bad things that year.
Once you've done a god of a hell dimension, how do you rise in scale from that? When they tried topping Glory in Angel Season 4, it went very poorly. (Though I guess The First was bigger too, but I haven't gotten there yet) The only thing to do was go smaller, more intimate. I like what was said about the real "Big Bad" being real life, and strained/failing relationships. And do you mean that Watcher's Council that Buffy very dramatically told to get out of her life, that she was taking control of things? They seemed a very petty bunch, I'm not surprised they didn't bother to support her.

I can't agree about Buffy and evil Spike - it was sad, but made so much sense too. She was cut off, dealing with a hell-like existence, and he kept throwing himself at her.

Kelthaz wrote: View Post
The reason for the hate is because nothing felt right and none of the character beats made sense.

Willow getting addicted to the power of magic makes sense; going to a crack house to shoot up does not make sense. Xander's life finally coming together with his job and his relationship, but throwing it all away over fear of becoming like his father does not make sense. Giles randomly disappearing for no god damn reason to force Buffy to stand on her own two feet after a severely traumatic life experience does not make sense. Dawn randomly deciding to become a kleptomaniac (which is ignored and forgotten after a few episodes) does not make sense. Tara's random death caused by a physics-defying bullet fired by a gun in a Mel Brooks film does not make sense. As for Buffy and Spike's arcs, well, they do make sense, but they sucked.
Well, with Willow it wasn't just a random crack house but a huge source of power, and she was in a very bad place at the time, plus Amy convincing her to go for it. I'd sooner criticize her deciding to put the whammy on Tara's mind in the first place being out of character, but even that makes sense based on some of what Dark Willow was saying.

With Xander this was actually foreshadowed pretty heavily, imo. Even as far back as dating Cordy we get a reference to an awful family life, and it took him a long time to tell Anya he loved her (and then only when indirectly pushed to it by Buffy). Even after proposing to Anya (right before they might all die) how long does it take him to want to admit it? Even just before he leaves Anya, he doesn't say "We're done" as much as "I'm not ready, and I should have said so a long time ago." And of course seeing a father like that would have a huge impact on him in a way he might not expect.

I don't necessarily agree with Giles leaving especially considering the timing and learning what Buffy was going through, but his reasoning makes sense, and certainly Buffy was more and more relying on him. Which makes sense, he'd always been a surrogate parent and especially after Joyce died, but his reason for leaving fits the general theme of the season, imo.

A lot more could've been done with Dawn's kleptomania, I agree with that. But even from what little we saw: people in her life kept disappearing. Her mom died suddenly, her sister died saving her - and then was brought back, but emotionally cold and distant, her "surrogate older sisters/mothers" that she adored broke up and one moved out. Riley's sudden up and leaving seems to have affected her. The first boy she fell for and kissed turned out to be a vampire trying to kill her (and well played on that decision, Joss & co). Even her own nature probably haunts her as being impermanent and ephemeral before she was summoned into being with a rewritten backstory. So she takes stuff and keeps it, because it can't leave her. Dawn's pretty consistently shown as somebody that craves affection and validation and belonging, latching onto Xander, Riley, Willow, Tara, even Spike.

The physics of Tara's death are slightly wonky, but not in any sort of unbelievable way, imo. And certainly nothing there is wrong in terms of character beats.

I think "Reality Ensues" would actually be a better trope.
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Old December 2 2012, 10:54 AM   #14
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Re: Buffy Season Six

Kestrel wrote: View Post
I ended up being much less bother by the way Warren died than I expected - because it was pretty quick, and because he really was too stupid and unlikeable to live at the end.
I don't think we're really supposed to be upset about Warren's death. Yes he's a human, but he was undeniably a villain and probably the most unpleasant human we've met so far in the show. I think our emotional angle on that is supposed to be that it's sweet, mousy, gentle Willow who is killing him. The problem with that is that Willow has been acting so unpleasantly herself for most of this season that we have comparatively little sympathy left for her either.


Kestrel wrote: View Post
Though, Adam as a thematically appropriate foe, really? I don't have anything especially against Adam, but he was just... meh. Frankenstein but not done especially well, I guess.
The Scoobies' arc in season 4 is about fracturing as a group, finding new people to hang out with, not being the close-knit team they were because of the move to college. That's why it's vital that the four of them come back together at the end, joining together literally and figuratively to show that they're stronger together than apart. Adam, meanwhile, is a creature literally made by joining other people and things together. That's why the Scoobies also have to be united to defeat him.


Kestrel wrote: View Post
Once you've done a god of a hell dimension, how do you rise in scale from that? ... The only thing to do was go smaller, more intimate.
Gay as it may sound, I can compare this to Madonna albums. After she'd gone as far out there as possible and flashed her flange at the whole world with Erotica and the Sex book, what else could she do but put some clothes back on and turn to romance with Bedtime Stories? When you've done something which pretty much by definition is as far as you can go, what do you follow it with? Something completely different. (And I don't think the First was actually a stronger bad guy than Glory, at least not physically. The First was ineffective in and of itself - its only power lay in persuading you that you were powerless.)


Kestrel wrote: View Post
I'd sooner criticize her deciding to put the whammy on Tara's mind in the first place being out of character, but even that makes sense based on some of what Dark Willow was saying.
Even that I don't see as being out of character for Willow. As far as she's ever pushed that aspect before, certainly, but there's a logical progression that's got her there. She's been using magic to punish others for hurting her emotionally (as opposed to saving the innocent) at least since early season 4, "Wild at Heart," where she tried to cast a spell to punish Oz for cheating on her with Veruca. The "my will be done" spell of "Something Blue" came right after. It's not new behaviour for her. Even in "Welcome to the Hellmouth" she used her superior knowledge of computers to punish Cordelia and Harmony for hurting her emotionally ("Press the deliver button").


Kestrel wrote: View Post
A lot more could've been done with Dawn's kleptomania, I agree with that. But even from what little we saw: people in her life kept disappearing. Her mom died suddenly, her sister died saving her - and then was brought back, but emotionally cold and distant, her "surrogate older sisters/mothers" that she adored broke up and one moved out. Riley's sudden up and leaving seems to have affected her. The first boy she fell for and kissed turned out to be a vampire trying to kill her (and well played on that decision, Joss & co). Even her own nature probably haunts her as being impermanent and ephemeral before she was summoned into being with a rewritten backstory. So she takes stuff and keeps it, because it can't leave her. Dawn's pretty consistently shown as somebody that craves affection and validation and belonging, latching onto Xander, Riley, Willow, Tara, even Spike.
See, that's an analysis that I'd never considered of that storyline. I got that it was about seeking attention, but the "don't leave me" aspect is new to me and I like it a lot.

.
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Old December 2 2012, 07:08 PM   #15
Kelthaz
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Re: Buffy Season Six

Kestrel wrote: View Post
I think "Reality Ensues" would actually be a better trope.
Okay, let's just take a look at all the non-supernatural things that happen over the eight month span that is season 6. I'm going to be focusing on Buffy's point of view because she is the main character. I'll try to be as unbiased and factual as possible in the descriptions.
  • Buffy begins the season suffering from major depression due to believable issues.
  • Buffy's father figure leaves her during her depression to force her to stand on her own two feet.
  • Buffy's best friend, Willow, becomes addicted to drugs and her girlfriend breaks up with her over it
  • Buffy's kid sister turns to stealing for attention.
  • Buffy's other best friend, Xander, has a great job and is engaged to marry his long-time girlfriend. Buffy sees their happy relationship as the light at the end of the tunnel for her. Xander leaves Anya at the altar over fears of becoming his father.
  • Buffy, despite working for an organization that pays her advisor/mentor a living wage, receives nothing herself and is forced to take a fast food job to pay the rent. The two other adults (Willow and Tara) living in her house contribute little to nothing.
  • Buffy enters into an abusive relationship with a man she hates just so she can feel something in her life.
  • Buffy's old boyfriend, who she had loved and lost, shows up out of the blue happily married to another woman.
  • While a madman is attempting to shoot Buffy, one of his stray bullets travels towards her house, takes a 90° left turn towards the window, and kills Willow's girlfriend. Willow then has a breakdown and goes super hardcore into drugs.

Sure, all of these things taken individually is realistic (except the last), but all of this shit happening around the same time to the same group of people? It's completely ridiculous. If this is reality to you than I suggest you call Wolfram & Hart and ask for Ritual Sacrifice because you have seriously pissed off a god or two.

A good example of Reality Ensues would be Joyce's death. It was a very traumatic event that all of us could relate to, or, at the very least, image this happening to us at some point in the future. It felt real. Of course, it's important to remember that at this point most of the characters were relatively happy. They had their problems (Glory for one), but it wasn't all doom and gloom. The myth is that life is pain, but the reality is that life is both pain and pleasure. As soon as you forget one in favour of the other your work becomes unrealistic. That's what happened in Buffy season six.
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