Breaking Up With Buffy

A note: I was taken onto HelloGiggles as a “topical writer.” This post doesn’t have much to do with real current events that matter to anyone but me, but rather current events in my life that were affecting in a way that they consumed my understanding of what was going on around me for a little while.

This is my attempt at the classic blog genre “writing about a breakup as if the internet cares.” And actually it is topical: getting dumped in mid-2012 is tough when you have to listen to ‘Somebody I Used to Know’ demiliterally constantly, and you have to see super-cute couples like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan gallivanting around. This is how I broke up with Buffy.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets a bad rap . People who haven’t seen it assume its just Sarah Michelle Geller being all ditzy and pretty and killing vampires in skimpy outfits (yeah, that happens, and it’s awesome, but that’s not what the show is about). From what I’ve seen of Buffy, the show is about playing with archetypes, both modern cinematic archetypes (like taking the ditzy cheerleader and turning her into a fleshed-out character) to classic mythological archetypes. It’s a pretty cool show. It’s smart and funny and the action scenes are pretty good. It’s got depth. But I won’t ever get to really find out all that the show has to offer–I broke up with Buffy.

Now I wasn’t actually dating the probably fictional Buffy the vampire slayer. Sure, that would be awesome because she’s super hot, probably pretty fun to be around and if we were on a date and got mugged, I could just hang back while she took care of it (then tell my friends how I totally beat the mugger up). I wasn’t actually dating the probably unfictional Sarah Michelle Geller, either – she’s still married to Freddie Prinze Jr. I imagine their current lives are a creepy delusional reproduction of the late 1990s.

I broke up with Buffy because I can’t watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer anymore. My Netflix Instant account is currently paused on a specific frame of a Buffy episode: The Slayer is tied up facedown on a table, wearing a floral blouse and her great Season 2 haircut. A man in the front of the frame is holding a syringe, one that he has just prepared with the various apothecary-like things in front of him. In the background is a topless three-limbed mannequin, looking out at Buffy and the man and pondering being a mannequin.

For me–or this is how I feel right now anyway–Buffy and the rest of the Scooby gang will be forever immortalized at that moment, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a show that is 2 and a half seasons long and ends anticlimactically in the middle of a dramatic scene. Here’s why:

I originally had a low impression of Buffy, I thought it was just a dumb, cheesy horror drama intended to give Sarah Michelle Geller a vehicle in which to be attractive. I wasn’t bothered by the fact that it had a strong female lead or whatever–I am demonstrably fine with girly media–I just looked at Buffy as your average banal vampire ballyhoo, with opposing dreamy vampires doing stupid dreamy stuff.

But then I entered a longterm relationship with a Buffy devotee. This girl loved Buffy, and was constantly espousing the benefits of the show I had offhandedly dismissed. For a while, I joked around and teased her about it, treating Buffy like her guilty pleasure, something she was embarrassed for liking. But I slowly realized that she took this thing really seriously. It wasn’t a nostalgia thing for her, or something she watched tongue-in-cheek: she actually really liked Buffy. When holidays came around I’d sometimes get her various Buffy paraphernalia, a mug and a book about the “Physics of the Buffyverse” are two things that come to mind. I considered it a cute obsession.

And I really liked her. And respected her, and trusted her opinion in what makes things good. So after we’d been dating for more than two years (yeah, I’m a little slow, but I had Breaking Bad, Community, Party Down and Arrested Development to catch up on), I decided to join her in watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a rewatch for her, obviously, but a first time for me. I partially played it off like I was watching it “for her,” but I was really genuinely interested, and she knew that.

We started watching it as a kind of wind-down after busy days–a nightly get comfy-in-bed-and-start-up-the-Netflix kind of activity. And I really liked it. A lot. I started to get obsessed with Joss Whedon, I saw Cabin in the Woods and it’s probably one of my favorite movies.

I got totally drawn into the Buffyverse. It’s fun, it’s actually pretty smart, they’ve got a lot of great ideas, and I could see that it was totally going in the direction toward being philosophically similar to some of my obsessions: TVTropes and Joseph Campbell. I really liked the characters, I identified with Xander for some reason. I laughed a lot. I cheered when Giles got a date with that techno-pagan. When there was a demon in the internet? That was awesome! That weird hyena episode? Pretty cool. Seth Green? Awesome! Alyson Hannigan? Adorable! Metaphors about high school being hell? I’ll buy it. All in all what I saw of Buffy was an awesome time.

Then one night we were watching an episode where Giles is part of some weird British cult and there’re like tattoos and demons and Buffy is wearing something tight. And then we paused the show for some reason, and then an hour later our relationship was dead, and I was on a train home, alone, in the middle of the night.

We broke up in the middle of season 2 episode 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It wasn’t a bad breakup or anything. It was mutualish. It was inevitable. It was amiable. It was sad, but it was relieving. It was.

But this isn’t about the specifics of my relationship, or my breakup this is about vampire slayage and the lack thereof.

On the phone a few days later, after we’d decided we’d stay friends, I said, partially in jest, “Hey, and maybe we can still watch Buffy together, you know we wouldn’t snuggle or anything obviously, but we can like watch online and GChat about it.” A pause. A longer pause. “Yeah, maybe,” she said, “but things have to be different.”

And with that I couldn’t watch Buffy anymore. To be honest, I haven’t tried. But in my mind I strongly associate Buffy with her, and with us. I associated her with Buffy when we were together, and I’ll still associate the two now we’re apart. I guess a part of me was still always watching it “for” her–whenever I suggested we watch an episode, a little bit of me sometimes thought “I’m not really in the mood for Buffy right now, but I want to make her happy, and hey, it’s a good show.”

I may never get to see when Alyson Hannigan’s character becomes a lesbian (right? I think I heard about that) or the supposedly amazing musical episode that my ex would always rave about. I won’t find out why Spike is such a badass, or why Angel is such a weenie. I won’t get to see if Xander has angry hate sex with Cordy (that totally happens, right?) I won’t get to see Buffy slay various demonic entities perkily. I’ll never find out why Giles is so cool, or if his relationship with the techno-pagan works out. I really wanted to know what kind of “big bads” (a TVTropes favorite phrase that Buffy coined) erupt later in the series. But I won’t know. I think Buffy is over to me.

I guess that means its time to move on. Convince myself that what happens is for the best, and move on to other things, accepting that what is lost is lost. Maybe one day I’ll watch Buffy again, but for now, there’re other TV shows in the Netflix sea. I wonder if Dr. Who is on view instantly…

Is there any piece of media that’s been “ruined” for you by a breakup? Is there something you shared with a person that you can no longer enjoy alone? Lets commiserate in the comments.

(Image via 20th Century Fox.)