"Out of Context, This is Brilliant"
Out of all the players for our Buffy test game, only two of us had seen every episode. I anticipated that I would have to explain some stuff as we watched, but I didn't properly realize just how the series builds on itself over time. What starts as a simple monster of the week show becomes a sprawling epic by the end of its seven season run. The main cast goes through several rotations, relationships begin and dissolve, good becomes evil and vice versa. It's a lot to handle, especially for the uninitiated.
So what does making a drinking game for this kind of roller coaster entail? We had our work cut out for us this week.
"Boozy the Vampire Slayer": The Rules
If the thought of vegetable juice turns your stomach as much as the thought of blood, you could drink whiskey. Giles and Spike consume their fair share of bourbon. Adjust the game accordingly, though; straight liquor and television drinking games don't mix.
1. Drink for title drops. For easy mode, that's every time someone says "Buffy".
2. Drink for Daddy Issues. "Sire" issues could count, but we didn't come across it in our test game.
3. Drink when they drink. Your call on whether blood counts as a drink.
4. Drink once right off the bat if the first scene of the episode involves Buffy slaying a vampire. By my count, that's at least a good third of the episodes.
5. Drink whenever someone goes into "research mode". This usually involves sitting around a library, a magic shop, or somebody's living room with a bunch of large books.
All of the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink for title drops. For medium mode, that's every time someone says "Buffy" or "Vampire"
2. Drink whenever someone falls into an alternate timeline. You'd be surprised how often this happens.
3. Drink whenever you learn something new about a character.
4. Drink whenever someone comes back after a long absence. Buffy has a cast of thousands. And Joss LOVES re-using actors.
5. Drink when someone makes out with someone they really shouldn't. Use your best judgement on this.
All of the above rules apply. Also...
1. Drink for title drops. For hard mode, that's every time someone says "Buffy", "Vampire", or "Slayer."
2. Drink whenever someone wakes up from a dream or a vision.
3. Drink whenever someone says the word "monkey". I know. It's weird. It happens.
4. Drink whenever someone makes fun of someone else's nationality.
5. Drink whenever someone makes a reference to classic literature. Mostly Shakespeare.
Flux: Ultimately enjoyed a spoileriffic night (Medium)
Champjagne Austgin: Disappointed by the lack of petticoats (Hard)
The Bishop: Was eyeing Caleb's priest collar (Hard)
We ended up watching some iconic episodes while playing this game. Did the game itself set a gold standard? Let's find out!
The Funny Rules
However, "Buffy" is unique because while the show itself goes through many transitions, each episode follows a pretty regular formula, no matter what season it's from: expositional fight scene, statement of strangeness, research (drink!), if it's a character development episode an emotional moment, and then a climactic resolution to the problem, which perhaps contributes to that season's conflict. It's strangely strict, but the creators futz around within that strict structure often.
Looking at the game I created, my rules aren't the best. I came up with at least five better ones while we were playing the game (which you'll see at the end of the article), but all the same 90% of them got used. In "Seeing Red", a distraught Anya talks about how Xander made her feelings fly around like little monkeys (drink!). In "Dark Age", we learn a ton about Giles; he has a tattoo, used to be a guitar-playing punk, and spent his free time summoning demons (drink x3!). The episode that didn't really work for the game was "Touched," which was three episodes away from the end of the series, so they weren't focusing so much on form.
Oh, God, THAT Episode
So speaking of melodrama, the very first episode I rolled for this game was Season 6's episode 19: "Seeing Red". A lot happens in this episode, not the least of which is surprise murder of Tara, Willow's lover.
The main source of conflict of Season 6, as put by Shirley Whiskas, is that "Buffy is sleeping with Spike but Spike doesn't have a soul. It is SO intense." Basically, Buffy hates her life, but Spike wants her body and she uses him to make herself feel better AND worse at odd intervals. They break up at least four times during the season, leaving Spike feeling frustrated and Buffy feeling confused. She's pretty sure she doesn't love him, and he KNOWS he loves her but can't have all of her.
In "Seeing Red", Spike forces himself on Buffy in her bathroom, and very nearly rapes her.
But every time I see Spike doing something altruistic in Season 7, I think back to "Seeing Red" and the few minutes that ruined the BuffyxSpike ship for me.
"See but, on his side," began Shirley, "she's been sending him mixed messages." Shirley argues that violence and humiliation had already been a part of their relationship before, that it was part of the attraction between the two and that Spike couldn't tell the difference. To which I politely reply...
Spike gets no defense here. The difference between their previous violent sex and this scene is that before, Buffy initiated any intimate contact nine times out of ten, and when situations arose that were a little skeezy, she was still granting permission. She was ashamed of her actions, but she was still granting consent.
There is no consent present in this scene. Buffy is on the ground, injured, wearing only a bathrobe. She is screaming at him to stop, and fighting back as best as she can. THAT is attempted rape, and it takes a lot to earn back trust after something like that. Hell, I'd argue people don't deserve the chance to earn trust back after something like that. Spike only gets that chance because the apocalypse is coming, and Buffy runs out of friends. But he never gets her love.
Funnily enough, we still felt the urge to objectify someone. So we turned to the men.
"Oh my God," Flux remarked during "Seeing Red", "Xander is just so fat."
"It's like his head doesn't fit on his body," added The Fuzzy Masked Man.
"Seriously, Xander, your shirt is two sizes too big," put in Champjagne Austgin.
It's confusing to me how television writers can get so turned around when writing for the opposite gender. "Buffy" did it ten years ago, and did it well. There's really no excuse.
"The male punches are lower pitched than the female punches," the Bishop remarked about halfway through the show. That's really the only differentiation the show makes between men and women.
Drink whenever Buffy breaks down a door.
Drink whenever someone talks about "The Apocalypse"
Drink whenever you see a band playing.
Drink whenever someone says a word in a foreign language. Two drinks if someone says a word or phrase in Latin.
Drink whenever someone summons a demon.
Drink whenever a spell is cast.
Drink whenever someone is possessed, or transfigured.
Drink whenever someone says something overtly misogynistic.
Drink whenever Willow mentions being gay (it happens before she comes out!).
Drink whenever a main character cries.
You get the idea. Feel free to mix and match. Next week's will be more on the ball.
For Your Inebriation is written by Krissy Pappau (Hollis Beck). Video footage is taken by Pooh Daddy (Vincent Graham) and edited by Seb (Amy Yourd). All "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" images are owned by 20th Century Fox.