On Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Dating Death

By Jennifer Crusie

Romance writers tend to love Buffy the Vampire Slayer because it’s the only show on TV that gets the dynamics of falling in love right most of the time. Whedon and his writers seem to have an instinct for the messy part of romance, the off-the-wall, over-the-top, why-am-I-doing-this? insanity that makes love such a pain in the neck, whether somebody’s biting you there or not. The reasons for this are many and varied, and all the more telling when the people at Mutant Enemy get it wrong. Watching Buffy is an education in how to write romance.

A look at how Buffy Summers meets and mates gives the first part of the answer as to why Buffy makes the best love on TV. Buffy has had three loves in her seven-year fight against the Hellmouth, and three of these relationships followed the basic psychological progress–assump-tion, attraction, infatuation, and attachment–which is why they all felt true emotionally, even if some viewers were less than pleased with Buffy’s choices.

The first move in establishing a relationship is assumption: gauging, consciously or unconsciously, if this person is somebody desirable, somebody it is possible to love. Is the object of potential desire physically attractive? Smart? Strong? Funny? These are all clues that the object is genetically a catch, physically and mentally healthy; it’s DNA shrieking “Pick that one, I want to live forever!” Since Sunnydale is populated almost entirely by beautiful, verbal teenagers, this is not a difficult stage for the Scooby Gang, their  …

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