Triumph of the Wills

Devilish Biopics; Buffy Puts a Stake in It

From the beginning, Buffy was gripped by loneliness. Surrounded by a faithful band of friends, she remained a fundamentally solitary character. "Being the Slayer made me different, but it's my fault I stayed that way," she admitted to her hapless paramour Spike in a recent episode. "People are always trying to connect to me, and I just slip away." Over its seven-year run, the show has exquisitely teased out this theme—how much can friendship and community lessen the feeling of being ill at ease in the world? Sometimes it did so in narratives that paralleled ordinary experiences: One season dealt with the transition from adolescence to adulthood, as the gang watched one another mature and grow apart. Other times the storyline took on a more supernatural tinge, like the time Willow's grief for a lost love turned her into a vengeful witch, or when Buffy's pals yanked her out of Heaven; for months afterward she walked the earth like a failed suicide, her every look and gesture conveying horror and estrangement from the world.

What made all this bearable was Buffy's effervescence—the show was accessorized with cartoony monsters that looked like Star Trek rejects and was bathed in irony and pop-culture references. (Oxford University Press is even publishing a lexicon of Buffy slang this summer.) Underneath all the wit and slayage, though, human emotions whirred and shuddered. Buffy struck a chord that's incredibly rare on TV, and it will be missed.


Stewart little: the young entrepreneur in Martha, Inc., some years before ImClone
photo: Annie Chia
Stewart little: the young entrepreneur in Martha, Inc., some years before ImClone

Details

Martha, Inc.
May 19 at 9 p.m. on NBC

Hitler: The Rise of Evil
May 18 and 20 at 9 p.m. on CBS

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Final episode May 20 at 8 p.m. on UPN

If you'd prefer a glimpse of a real-life community where the only demons are psychological, there's The Collector of Bedford Street, an Academy award-nominated documentary being shown on Cinemax this month. Alice Elliott's moving, personal film tells the story of Larry Selman, a sociable, developmentally disabled man who's befriended dozens of his neighbors on his West Village street over the last 30 years. Worried about Selman's tenuous future (he's impoverished, lonely, and depressive), his block association comes together to establish a trust fund for him, effectively creating an ad hoc family in a corner of mean old Manhattan.

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