Buffy the Vampire Slayer is, without a doubt, one of the best TV shows of all time. Running for seven years, it captured the imaginations of audiences all over the world – not least of all because the cast and crew of the gothic teen drama forged such strong friendships off-set.
However, while the real-life Scooby Gang tend to agree on almost all things Buffy, there’s one season of the show that utterly divides both them and their fandom.
We’re talking (of course) about season six.
There’s no denying that it set the show on a far darker path: Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) leaves and returns to England, convinced that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has become too reliant on him. Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Anya (Emma Caulfield) have their relationship torn apart by a vengeance demon, while Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) begins shoplifting on a regular basis.
And then… well, Tara (Amber Benson) is accidentally shot and killed, sending Willow (Alyson Hannigan) down a path of vengeance, dark magic and a burning desire to “kill the world”.
Meanwhile, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), utterly scarred by the experience of coming back from the dead, enters into a highly-charged sexual relationship with Spike (James Marsters) – which climaxes with him almost raping her.
All in all, not a very cheery series of events. Although it’s worth remembering that season six was also, of course, the season which brought us Once More With Feeling.
Speaking about the divisive season with EW, Geller said she wasn’t a fan – and suggested that the show had lost its way due to the fact that creator Joss Whedon had stepped away as showrunner.
“I’ve always said that season six was not my favourite,” she said, before going on to explain that she felt the storyline – and Buffy’s subsequent behaviour – was entirely wrong for her character.
“I felt it betrayed who she was,” said Geller. “Even just getting to talk to Joss and be able to get his opinion was not as easy when he’s not upstairs.
“He had three shows. He [also] had Angel and Firefly, so that was hard. But he made sure to dedicate the time to season seven and that was his promise to me: that we would right all the wrongs.
“He kept that promise.”
Despite keeping his promise, however, Whedon has said that he disagrees with Geller’s interpretation of the season.
“I love season six,” he said. “Marti [Noxon, the show’s executive producer] and I wanted to talk about an unhealthy relationship. It was borderline abusive until it actually became abusive. It was on both sides. It wasn’t just that she was with someone dark – she found the darkness within herself.
“This has to do with the consequences of power.”
It’s not the first time that Whedon and Geller have disagreed: when asked who they preferred as a potential suitor for Buffy out of Spike and Angel, Geller was firm in her response – Angel.
“There was something so beautiful to me about the Buffy and Angel story,” she said.
“I think that Spike understood a different part of who Buffy was and I think she needed to understand that and discover. But for me as Buffy, I think Angel.”
Whedon, however, found it more difficult to pick out a definitive winner.
“I’m split right down the middle because in terms of a long-term relationship, Spike’s kinda your guy because he actually went and got a soul because of her,” he pointed out.
“But [Angel and Buffy]’s the grandest love story I will ever tell. You can’t argue with that.”
Images: Rex Features