I remember what it was like to come out to my friends. I had to do it several times, since it's not like you can just gather everyone in your life in one room and tell them what's going on, so I had to keep bringing it up. I never even talked about it with my parents, though I assume they'll read this. Anyway, I would look at my friends and say, "So, I've got something I need to tell you. Something I've been doing recently." They would look at me and say, not without concern, "Well, what is it?" And then I would clear my throat, look at them, and say:"I've been watching 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.' And I love it." I first came into contact with "Buffy" in the spring of 2003, when I saw the Season 2 DVDs sitting out at a friend's apartment. "Whose are those?" I asked her. "Mine," she said. "Yeah, right," I joked, thinking her far too smart to be involved with what I had prejudicially written off as a juvenile, campy soap opera. But luckily she was walking around the apartment and I didn't say it too loudly and I guess wasn't being too sarcastic (which is something), since my comment didn't really register with her. (Ah, the sweet joy of making a joke and having a woman ignore it.) A few months later, in the middle of that long hot summer, I came across a rerun of "Buffy" on FX one afternoon and decided to stop and see what was going on, since, after all, the girl who'd owned the DVDs really did have good taste. So I settled in and would up watching the Season 5 episode "The Body," and was blown away. I was thrust headlong into a universe that had been expanding for years and forced to play catch-up mighty fast, but that episode was enough to let me know I'd found something good. The show was smart without being smug, funny without sacrificing respectability, and blended action, comedy, drama, loads of pain, and all the other emotions that make for the best TV. It took me a while to accurately assemble the show's chronology in my head, since I was flat broke and couldn't afford the DVDs, but also didn't want to stop watching the show. So I watched the reruns of Seasons 5 and 6, which is a fascinating way to enter the series: Willow was gay, there was the epic "Once More, With Feeling," and I had to put up with Dawn. Since Joss Whedon's series had ended only a few months earlier, the seventh year hadn't entered syndication yet, so FX returned to Season 1 after the sixth season episodes ended, and I soon caught up on everything. I was living alone in a college town that had been deserted for the summer, and watching "Buffy" was probably one of the two or three only good things that happened during that dry, blistering hell of a season. I felt as if I'd found this world that had been waiting for me, full of humor and pain, where it was okay to be a little cornball in the service of the greater story. The show ran for seven seasons, and each one has its glories1: The show's core dynamic is flawless in Season 1-3, the high school years; Season 4 is a daring and wonderful transition to college and the real world; Season 5 has some fantastic moments dealing with love, sacrifice, and growing up; Season 6 is a vastly underrated look at the aimlessness of your early 20s and the damage we do to each other; and Season 7, despite the speechifying, manages to be a solid return to form as the show once again finds itself dealing with apocalypse at high school. I could never pick a favorite season, or episode, or character. I've loved a lot of TV shows in my time, and still do, but "Buffy" is one of the few (along with "Sports Night" and a very few others) that transcends the level of beloved show and becomes an almost tangible presence in my cultural life; basically, the show helps me get over. I can't imagine anyone being able to turn to "Lost" or "Heroes" and find the same kind of emotional comfort and character-derived moments of genuine power like the ones Whedon turned out with stunning regularity. This show has heart, damn it, and that counts for something. I can't believe how many moments are flooding back to me just banging out this half-assed salute to the show. There's Giles walking into a tree at the end of "Earshot"; that umbrella sequence in "The Prom" that gets me every time; the final shot of "Hush"; the music in "The Gift"; seeing Riley come back married in "As You Were"; Andrew turning off the camera in "Storyteller"; the sheer fun of "Halloween"; the surprising gender reversal in "I Only Have Eyes For You"; the jarring transition from Anya singing to being pinned to the wall, a sword through her chest, in "Selfless"; really, any moment from the gallons of angst the flowed through Season 2. There are so many, and I'm sure I'll get into more of them in this space in the future. I guess I just felt like getting all that out there because the 10th anniversary of the show's debut recently passed, and a new line of comics written (initially) by Whedon just began, and are serving as a "Season 8" to continue where the TV series left off. And I know now that I'll read every issue, even though Whedon's only writing a few of them. There's just something about these characters I find compelling, an emotional strength of storytelling that outweighs the show's occasional weaknesses. I'll probably cobble together some kind of review of the comics after a while, but that's for later. For now, I just wanted to share my love for a show that got me through the black, that always entertained me, and that influenced the way I watch TV and the stories that affect me. That's all. 1. Man, that was an awful pun (for those who caught it). And I swear it was unintentional.