Ten Things Buffy Does Best

[Article by Mike Marinaro]

[Article (Spoiler Free)]

I’ve had quite the journey with Buffy the Vampire Slayer over the years. As the brilliantly rendered characters grew and evolved through their adolescence and young adulthood, I grew too; as they learned about themselves, I did as well. What, you might ask, beyond helping some geeky guy you don’t know learn something about himself, actually separates ‘that show with the corny name’ — yes, we’ve all called it that at one point — from other great television shows out there? Well, if pressed to boil it down to one reason above all others I’d yell out characters! That doesn’t really get to the heart of things, though, does it? Alright then, without further ado, here’s my 10-item unordered list of what makes this unique series so damn special.

  • Character Fluency. When you get caught up in watching a string of episodes it’s often easy to overlook the connective tissue that binds the characters to the various stories being told. If you pay close attention, though, you’ll find the characters casually referencing what happened in the previous episode(s). Characters not only remember what happened seasons ago, but also what happened last week! I find this quality to be incredibly vital to why the characters feel so much like real people as opposed to just puppets of the writers and the plot. This dynamic allows for a level of ‘intimacy’ with the characters I’ve seen no other shows, quality or otherwise, accomplish to this extent. This is why it is one of the first things I notice is missing in other shows. Long-term and short-term memory in characters is something that I’ve only ever seen Buffy do completely right.
  • Continuity. This show’s self-awareness of its history is immaculate. It’s not perfect — no show is — but I’ve never seen another that’s even come close to this one’s consistent use of continuity in a sea of ever-changing characters and plots. The fact this consistency is maintained over a span of 7 seasons and 144 episodes simply boggles the mind. From whole storylines to character development to in-jokes to throw-away references to poking fun at itself from time-to-time, Buffy never forgets where it came from.
  • Foreshadowing. So Buffy does a fantastic job of remembering what happened before, but that joy impressively also goes in the other direction! Many major plot points and character arcs were planned seasons in advance, and that enhanced direction often shows itself in the form of subtle but largely deliberate foreshadowing. Between both the clearly intentional and the likely accidental hints of things to come, this level of interconnectivity between different parts of the story is truly unprecedented. I often find myself amazed to see something foreshadowed only to jump ahead to that point in the series and see a reference back to the episode that foreshadowed it.
  • Psychology. The characters not only have short-term and long-term memory, they also have a lot going on inside them psychologically. Fortunately for us, Buffy is masterful at allowing the viewer into the minds of the characters. Through the thorough and nuanced development many of the characters get in nearly every episode there is rarely a point in the series where you don’t completely understand why someone’s acting the way they do or making a particular important decision. Some of this insight is conveyed through the themes of an episode, sometimes through the dialogue, but other times through literary techniques such as metaphor and symbolism, and yet still other times with simply great acting with subtle facial expressions and body movement at the right times. The characters all have unique personalities, opinions, and perspectives that largely drive how they’ll react in any given situation. All of these factors add up to a feeling of genuinely knowing and understanding who these characters are.
  • The Fun Factor. Despite all the other quality aspects of the show, I have to admit I wouldn’t be nearly as invested in it if wasn’t just plain fun to watch. The show is far funnier than most comedies and is also able to blend that comedy with intense drama and pathos. The humor of the show isn’t one-dimensional either. The show sports situational comedy, character-based comedy, dialogue-based comedy, continuity/history-based comedy, and even silent comedy, sometimes all at once! Beyond the comedy, there is also some pretty awesome action sequences littered throughout the series. It’s quite fun to watch Buffy’s fighting style literally evolve season-to-season. Buffy is also very playful with language, yet it’s always consistent with its own internal rules. The best part of all this is that all of these qualities aren’t just in “the comedy episodes” — they’re a part of every episode in the series, albeit some episodes emphasize certain qualities more than others.
  • The Cry Factor. Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy, once said that there are “[t]wo things that matter to me: emotional resonance and rocket launchers.” I’m not one to easily get emotionally invested in fiction, yet Buffy is able to emotionally bring me to my knees, often while laughing and cheering all at the same time. There’ll be a scene that has you on the brink of tears only to slip in a subtle joke that causes you to chuckle through the tears. Yet there are also moments — moments grounded in carefully crafted character development — that simply punch you in the gut and then kick you while you’re down. Despite being a fantasy show, Buffy is more consistently emotionally resonant than any other TV show I’ve ever seen. A large part of why this is so is because these moments are actually earned — they don’t come out of nowhere and feel natural based on what came before.
  • The Brain Factor. Despite the cheesy title, Buffy is actually a tremendously smart show that deftly utilizes metaphor, symbolism, and subtext which are all used with surprising subtlety. It’s also a show that is rich in themes that are present in every episode and through entire seasons, always saying something relevant about the characters. There are scenes that’ll have a witty pop-culture reference followed by a subtle literary reference, all of which ends up foreshadowing a character’s actions in the next season or is directly related to the themes of the present episode or season. There is a tremendous amount of sophistication in not just the text of the show, but also in its visuals. It should also be mentioned how incredibly gutsy the show can be at times, sometimes devoting itself to entire seasons. Most shows chicken out when it comes to following-through with the consequences of previous episodes or seasons, but Buffy nearly always delivers and has the guts to take the characters where they should organically be heading after what they’ve experienced.
  • Variety. Buffy never gets stale throughout its seven seasons. There are many reasons behind this. The first is that that the show spans multiple genres ranging from drama to comedy to action to horror to romance, sometimes all within the span of five minutes. Yet all these elements are blended together so cleverly that it almost never feels jarring. The characters have complex personalities with both positive traits and negative traits. They can be witty and fun, but also occasionally out-of-line and mean, although their position is always understandable. This sort of spontaneous flexibility in tone is also present from episode-to-episode, with some episodes focusing more on an individual component of the show’s tone — there are hilarious comedy episodes, scary horror episodes, touching romantic episodes, and gut-wrenching dramatic episodes, and each of these have aspects of the others. On top of all of this, each season has a unique tone, look, feel, and even music. No season repeats the feel, themes, or character development of previous seasons. Because of this, each season comes out being completely unique from all the others. At no point does the show feel like it’s treading the same ground.
  • Unique Episodes. The average episode of Buffy contains all of the things I’ve already pointed out, which already makes it an absolute joy to watch. Yet the show is never content to lean exclusively on its known strengths. There are a whole bunch of episodes that successfully do something completely different, whether it’s looking at the series from a different point of view or letting a minor character be the central character. It can get even more experimental than that, too, like having an episode with almost no dialogue or an episode that takes place entirely in the realm of dreams or an episode with absolutely no music or an episode with almost nothing but music. Despite how some of these episodes appear “gimmicky” on the surface, these ‘unique situations’ are always used as a springboard to say something about the characters and to move the story and themes forward.
  • The Journey. The first time I finished all of Buffy I paused in reflection of what I’d just seen while being simultaneously saddened that my ride with the characters had ended. After this pause, I went back to the very beginning of it all out of sheer curiosity. I found myself completely shell-shocked at the contrast between the beginning of the series and the end of it. In the former, the characters are mere children who have unformed opinions, a romanticized outlook on relationships, are blissfully unburdened by the reality of death, and are the opposite of self-aware. Season-by-season these characters very gradually and naturally — based on their experiences and history — learned, loved, lost, evolved, and eventually became adults not just in physical appearance but as people. The characters we see at the end of the series are self-aware adults who are largely knowledgeable of their and each other’s faults, strengths, and motivations. The journey through the series isn’t one focused on plot or some big evil scheme, it’s one entirely centered on the characters. In this aspect Buffy the Vampire Slayer is like one giant book where each season represents a chapter in that story.

So, in the end, the common thread of all of these points is back to what I started with: it’s all about the characters. All of these items don’t exist in isolation either, they work together to make each individual quality that much more resonant. On top of all of this, there’s always something new to learn. There are many areas of the show that are worthy of study that I either don’t have specific interest in or simply haven’t started digging into yet, but they’re there to explore nonetheless ranging from the show’s use of music to gender studies to cultural impact, and plenty more. I learn more, pick up new things, and make new connections each time I watch the series. This is one of the rare times where the material is actually enhanced each time you watch it rather than getting boring or old. That’s the magic of a complex show that uses plots to service the characters, not the other way around. Plots on any show get old after a few viewings, but rich and layered characters end up taking on a life of their own.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a uniquely marvelous television series, one that actually gets better every time I watch it. Thankfully the show isn’t an academic bore to watch and is instead boundless fun. When I’m not feeling well and need a good laugh, I generally go to Buffy to cheer me up. When I’m in the mood to be deeply affected by something, I watch Buffy to give me a little teary-eye. When I’m in the mood to think about my entertainment, I watch Buffy and then write about it… a lot. This show is able to deliver on all these qualities and much more. This is what the show means to me. Now please go (re)watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and find out what it means to you.

“You think you know… what’s to come… what you are. You haven’t even begun.” – “Restless” [4×22]

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27 thoughts on “Ten Things Buffy Does Best”

  1. [Note: ShellRoth posted this comment on July 20, 2010.]

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I read your fabulous reviews on a daily basis and some strange inner Buffysense caused me to click on “articles” today. Imagine my surprise to find this article with today’s date on it! I was also very excited that your Season 7 review was up but this is a big bonus.

    I am relatively new to Buffy having watched all of it for the first time last fall, at my daughter’s urging, and then immediately re-watching. I am currently enjoying going through all the special features and commentaries and yes, there are many episodes I love and have lost count of the number of viewings.

    In my almost 57 years I have never been so “obsessed” with a TV show and I have found it difficult to explain to non Buffy watching family and friends what it is that makes this show like no other. You have expressed many of my thoughts and feelings about BTVS in an intelligent and succinct manner and I’m so impressed that you did it with no spoilers! It makes me so happy that even though I took this journey so long after it went off the air, there are still so many people out there like you who “get it” and want to keep exploring the many layers of Buffy. I plan to share this article, a lot!

    Like

  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 20, 2010.]

    Thank you ShellRoth for the kind words! I’m really pleased to hear that you’re going to share the article, as that’s why I decided to put it up. 🙂

    Like

  3. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on July 20, 2010.]

    Interesting article. While you’re right that “Buffy” does all of this well, I’d still argue that there are other shows that do it better (“BSG”, what I’ve seen of “The Wire” so far, etc…)

    On the other hand, “Buffy” did it first. And that does count for something.

    Like

  4. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 20, 2010.]

    I haven’t seen enough of The Wire to comment as I had trouble getting into it, but I hear great things about it.

    As for Battlestar Galactica (BSG), you already know I passionately disagree with you, so I won’t get into it here. I’ll just restate that I find BSG severely lacking, outside of its first season, on most of the points I outline in this article. That show has its strengths, but most of what I’m talking about here aren’t among them.

    Like

  5. [Note: MissKittyFantastico posted this comment on July 20, 2010.]

    You sum up most of the reasons why I love this show so much perfectly, and I will be certainly pointing the not-yet-converted-to-BtVS here!

    But why the tremendously scary screencap of Willow next to this article on the “Supplemental Articles” list? 🙂

    Like

  6. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on July 20, 2010.]

    Re:The Wire

    I recently finished watching The Wire and while I thought it was great and I do recommend it people who are intrested in that type of show, I still think Buffy is the better show. I actually find The Wire overrated(9.7 rating on imdb?! please) but still great.

    Reasons why The Wire is not as good as Buffy:(Spoiler free of The Wire)

    1. 2nd season was completely detached from everything(like side plot to what was actually the main thing) and uninteresting.

    2. 5th season basically was running on fumes repeating old themes, and the new themes weren’t all that great. The new themes seem to be even insulting to the viewers intelligence with such messages as “Poverty causes Problems!” and “media has power!”.

    3. Other reasons(using Mikejer’s above list): no unique episodes, not nearly as funny, no cry-factor really, no character fluency, no foreshadowing(that I could find on my first viewing), barely any journey or psychology. These are not problems of The Wire, simply Buffy did it better or The Wire simply didn’t have them. I don’t mean to diss The Wire – I like it a lot, but Buffy simply did it better.

    Like

  7. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 21, 2010.]

    This article reflects exactly my feelings. Thank you, mike for a job well done.

    I also learn new things and have a better understanding of the characters and situations everytime I watch it. The fact that Buffy gets better with repeated viewings is something that I´ve never experienced with another show.

    This show truly changed the way I view tv and your reviews gave me a more deeper understanding of it, as well.

    I also plan to show this article around.

    Like

  8. [Note: Alie posted this comment on July 21, 2010.]

    Hi Mike! Wow, I can’t believe you’re done reviewing Buffy! I can’t even believe I’m done watching Buffy! This review completely sums up my feelings about the show. It has certainly changed my life, and my views toward things. Now whenever I watch my favourite shows, I always compare it to Buffy. Joss Whedon is truly a genius, and he’s due for his next thing soon! At least I can finish Angel, and I don’t have a complete loss of the Buffyverse. What’s next for you, Mike? What are you going to review next? I highly suggest Chuck. It’s very different from Buffy, but it’s a great show overall.

    Like

  9. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 21, 2010.]

    Alie: Keep your eyes peeled to the front news page (or CriticallyTouch@Twitter) later this week. I intend on officially revealing what’s next.

    Like

  10. [Note: ShellRoth posted this comment on July 22, 2010.]

    Can I take a guess??? Please tell me you are taking over for Ryan and will be reviewing the rest of Angel. As you know, I enjoyed Ryan’s reviews very much but I was bitterly disappointed that he stopped just barely into Season 4. Especially since Season 5 is my favorite season of Angel! I would LOVE to see your take on Angel.

    BTW, I have already shared this article. And I too feel that from now on I will always compare any TV show with Buffy and though I hope this is not the case, I fear that nothing will ever be quite at the same level.

    Like

  11. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 22, 2010.]

    shellroth, I´m with you on that. Ever since I discovered Buffy, I´ve been comparing it to other shows and I´v been trying to see what I saw and still see in Buffy, but I get disappointed most of the time.

    btw, your idea is not bad. I would love to see Mike´s take on Angel. But I don´t want him to take over the reviews, I think it would be interesting if they shared the reviews. Have mike do the reviews when Ryan is unavailable or maybe have Ryan and Mike write 50-50.

    Like

  12. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 22, 2010.]

    The only hint I’ll give out right now is that some of the news does involve what’s next for Ryan’s Angel site. As for whether I’ll have any involvement in its future, well, you’ll just have to wait to find out. 😉

    Like

  13. [Note: ShellRoth posted this comment on July 22, 2010.]

    I really like your idea, buffyholic, about Ryan and Mike sharing the reviews. I suppose I was assuming that, for whatever reason, Ryan was not going to be posting any more reviews. It’s been almost a year since the last one. It’s hard for me to believe that when that review was posted I had only watched one or two episodes of season 1 of Buffy. Little did I know the impact it would have on my life! In a very positive (though time-consuming) way.

    Like

  14. [Note: MrB posted this comment on July 23, 2010.]

    11. Self-aware without being self-conscious.

    Joss Whedon always said that he create Buffy and BtVS to be an icon. The show knew what it was doing (most of the time.) But it never became locked into a “Buffy jail” of this is what we are and this is what we do because that is what BtVs is. It broke anything it needed to break in order to keep being BtVs. And, more importantly, it kept it broken. People we loved died. They stayed dead (mostly) but were not forgotten. When something changed, it stayed changed. This is more than continuity and character fluency. They took risks, and whether or not the risks panned out, they stuck with the results.

    Like

  15. [Note: xojupiterjazz posted this comment on August 16, 2010.]

    I completely agree. And one thing I wanted to add that I noticed and liked about the series was the fact that the characters were so realistic. I loved that I didn’t agree with the characters all the time and that was what made them real to me like how my friends were or something. Weird but just my two cents.

    Like

  16. [Note: Karen posted this comment on September 16, 2010.]

    After months of urging my boyfriend to watch Buffy (I’ve all ready watched the series like 8 times) he gave in this summer.

    The first few episodes were difficult for him to get through, though even to his own surprise he stated actually caring for the characters, and by the end of season 2 he was hooked. And once we had watched all seven seasons he felt the same sadness that I did when I first finished watching Buffy. This is why I think Joss W. was a genius. He got people to actually care about the characters. Never has tv portrayed life so realistically. Buffy, with all her mistakes, is one of the strongest main characters I have ever watched. Joss never shied away for the difficult questions in life: depression, suicide, hurt, lust and loss, and was never afraid to emphasize the strength of empathy, compassion and love.

    Through Buffy I found my own strength to get through some very difficult times in my life. My boyfriend always laughed at me when I told him I found hope in myself because of Buffy, but after watching the whole series, he finally understands how a tv series can have a very real impact on a persons life. And Buffy does exactly this. It makes you think and feel. Buffy has made me cry and laugh, it has made me angry and hurt. All in all Buffy is a one of its kind and I thank JW, SMG, JM, NB, AH and the rest of the cast for creating Buffy. KUDOS to you all.

    Like

  17. [Note: nk posted this comment on July 25, 2011.]

    What a great summation of the show.

    Just wanted to add in regard to The Wire that, as much as I like it, I found on viewing the whole show through for the second time that it lost a lot of its impact because I knew what was coming, who was going to die….etc, and there wasn’t really much else to enjoy because it never attempted to portray the inner lives of its characters. Even complex Wire characters like Omar and Stringer never seem to evolve – we’re simply shown things about them which we didn’t previously know. Don’t get me wrong, in a way I’m glad the show didn’t concentrate on in-depth characterisation, firstly because its unique strength was in its wide social scope (ie. not enough time to focus too much on any one person or group) and secondly because I felt its HBO stablemate The Sopranos was too obsessed with abstract psychology to the detriment of anything else, but it’s undeniable that Buffy succeeded in creating much more complex and dynamic characters than The Wire.

    As for BSG, that show was clearly just being made up as it went along.

    Like

  18. [Note: ShinyNorman posted this comment on August 5, 2011.]

    Thanks for writing out all these thoughts and ideas, Mike. Lots of insights in here that I learn from. I’m still new to the whole fan thing; I’ve never gotten myself involved in being a fan of pretty much anything, but the Buffy project is a whole different thing. Takes me to new horizons. Hey; I’m 50. But through Buffy, and through you, I have been able to understand my own students far better than any psych course could ever reveal. The reason: Empathy. I can empathize with every Buffy character in ways I have never been able to access with any TV show except for Twin Peaks.

    Joss has a vision that he’s stuck to in his other projects as well. That says so much about how Joss treats his life, I think. People think that we can separate our professional lives from our personal lives, and when you do that, you’re a cardboard cut out. Joss shows the creative world a lot about allowing yourself in to your work, and also the unique capacity to empathize with others, to reach out. In short, he cares. Furthermore, for whatever reason, his entire team of co-authors (yes, they are team) have some sort of chemistry that glues the bonds together.

    The cast are all brilliant. None of them are 16, obviously. For people as old as 30 portraying 16 year-olds with such conviction and humanity is just brilliant. Few people get to do that and not come off as acting. That says everything for the writing and directing. So Joss, as a director, is huge.

    In my new-found hobby here in Buffyfanland, these articles here on criticallytouched are both masterfully done and show intense effort and (dare I say) commitment. I think Buffy will go down as a pop culture game-changer. I hate that it’s being categorized as some cult classic, but if that’s what people think it is, fine. It’s not a cult.

    Every actor, from the mains with heavy lines to the minors with single lines and no lines at all, made this show and brought it to life. The first season really needs to NOT be judged so harshly. All experiments are “flawed.” in their early stages. The show stabilized by season 2, and we have to take into account that both seasons were shot before S1 released, so they know/knew full well where their growth curve was. Put yourselves in their shoes, as fans and as critics.

    Seven seasons is a huge task to review. It’s seven complete novels, if you wanna think about it. You’ve done a yeoman’s job! Keep the faith. And, I’m frankly grateful that you’ve ALL kept the flame alive 9 years after the close of the show! That should say to you that it isn’t just a show! It’s a project. I am so adopting the “verse” language, whoever it is that came up with that one — Buffyverse, Whedonverse… brilliant!

    Like

  19. [Note: Zoe posted this comment on December 3, 2011.]

    12. Self-Deprecation While Still Being Sincere

    I’ve never seen another show that loves to make fun of itself as much as Buffy. This keeps it from taking itself too seriously, and also allows it to acknowledge its faults – many plot holes are acknowledged as such, either right as they happen, or more commonly, later on. And the acknowledgement of these plot holes are always done with humor and finesse. (see TV trope’s article on lampshade hanging – http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LampshadeHanging)

    Examples of this:

    -Graduation Pt 1: *Giles pulls random book on demons off normal bookshelf in the library* Xander: “Gee it’s just as well nobody ever tried to check these books out…”

    -Episode 1, Season 5: Riley: “I’ve lived in Sunnydale a couple of years now, and you know what I’ve never noticed? … A big, honking castle.”

    -Giles: “A vampire in love with a slayer! It’s really rather poetic… in a maudlin sort of way.”

    But the best thing about all of this is that even with all its constant self-deprecation, the show always feels so incredibly sincere…so Meant. The characters and themes are treated with such affection and emotion, and you can tell that everything that happens in the show really means something to the creators, and by extension, to the viewers. In a nutshell, BtVS takes itself just seriously enough. A great episode example of this is Once More With Feeling, where the whole genre of musicals is made fun of, but also embraced and honored at the same time, and everything that’s happening to the characters is felt so deeply.

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  20. [Note: David posted this comment on December 21, 2012.]

    It made me chuckle when you said you watch Buffy when you unwell to cheer you up , mainly because it was when I was ill i first watched it , I had was off school due ot illness and has Buffy season 2 lying about so I had things about it and watched it and became hooked ^^. Also our article is very true well done sir

    Like

  21. [Note: nqm0230 posted this comment on July 9, 2013.]

    I started watching Buffy about six months ago and am currently through Season VI. I agree with every word you said. Buffy is a unique show in all ways imaginable. I started watching it due to Joss Whedon. I had heard alot about the guy and decided to give his reputedly best work a shot. Despite the fact that Season I is regarded as the weakest, it had me hooked. What I absolutely love about the show is that how adeptly it jiggles the various genres. There is comedy, drama, actions, ass-kicking, romance, horror. You name it. This show has made me laugh, made me cry, made me numb and horrified (Passion 2×17) and even gave me hope when I needed it most.

    Like

  22. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on May 15, 2014.]

    Unbelievably, this is the first time I’ve come across this article on the site. It’s fantastic and does a great job articulating why, despite it’s many flaws, this is comfortably my second favourite television series of all time, although it just misses out of the top 3 if I try to be objective.

    Every one of the criteria you listed is important, with the possible exception of Unique Episodes, which I find to be excellent if done well (see my well-documented love of “Restless” but ultimately not necessary for brilliance.

    Scanning over the piece, though, and reading the comments particularly as pertaining to The Wire, it strikes me how that show actually meets barely over half of those requirements. Character fluency and continuity are two things it does wonderfully, but it is lacking in variety and in some places the ‘fun factor’, while I never connected to anyone enough to feel all that mournful about their deaths. Nonetheless, I still feel the show’s strengths are enough to cement its position in the TV pantheon, but I am now a little more conflicted over my high placement of it.

    Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, however, match all of the criteria with ease, surpassing Buffy in many of them while maintaining strong episode to episode consistency, which is why I would consider them to be better shows.

    I wonder; is this what you use to determine whether a show is worthy of a review slot on the site? Because what I’ve seen of The West Wing indicates it’s strong on many of those aspects, and Freaks and Geeks ticks all the boxes effortlessly, as of course does Angel.

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  23. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on May 15, 2014.]

    I would disagree that Breaking Bad and The Sopranos surpasses Buffy in “many” of the criteria listed above. It’s all subjective. For me, Buffy does better than almost any show in just about all of the criteria (and I can say that, having seen both Breaking Bad and The Sopranos). Of course, like I said, it’s all a matter of opinion however. Another reason why I find Buffy to be my show of preference is the sheer variety of its episodes (while most, if not all the episodes, tie into each other). While Breaking Bad and The Sopranos have this variety, they do not have it to the extent Buffy does. Even though Buffy sacrifices the quality of a few of its episodes because of this variety, I find that the combination of variety and excellent episode to episode consistency strike a near perfect balance within the show.

    Like

  24. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on May 15, 2014.]

    I proposed Freaks and Geeks for this site largely because I felt it matched all these criteria. Same with The West Wing. They’re my two favorite non-Whedon shows ever, and I suspect this is mainly because they come the closest to successfully emulating what Whedon does best with his writing.

    I’m not sure if Breaking Bad matches Buffy in all departments, but it definitely meets all ten criteria. Which brings to mind another question, though: Does it matter more how many of the criteria a show meets, or how well it meets them? I’m reminded of shows like Star Trek: DS9 or Alias, which feature pretty much all the ten objectives Mike lists here, but don’t execute most of them nearly as well as Buffy does.

    Like

  25. [Note: Zach posted this comment on October 17, 2014.]

    Buffy beats Breaking Bad in:

    Continuity
    Fun Factor
    Cry Factor
    Psychology
    Variety
    Unique Episodes
    The Brain Factor

    Breaking Bad Beats Buffy in:

    Character Fluency
    Foreshadowing

    Tied in:

    The Journey

    Buffy Beats Sopranos in:

    Fun Factor
    Cry Factor
    Variety
    Unique Episodes
    Continuity

    Sopranos Beats Buffy in:

    Brain Factor
    Psychology
    Character Fluency
    Foreshadowing

    Tied in:

    The Journey

    This is just my opinion of course..but this was fun to make xD.

    Like

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