Spoilers All Over

The past few days have been tough. Not for me, for the fictional characters I surround myself with.
I feel the need to warn you of Buffy and Harry Potter spoilers ahead, but since I am so painfully behind on these fads, I probably don’t need to worry.
I don’t remember how I got interested in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I remember when the movie came out when I was 12, and I felt it was patronizing and lame. And I still don’t get the Luke Perry obsession.
Wikipedia tells me that Buffy (the TV show) and Harry Potter both came out in ’97, which strikes me as interesting, as it was a pretty important year. I was finishing high school, comfortable enough in my standing as senior, surrounded by friends, almost ready to take on the world of college.
I was also embracing my nerdery, as we seniors realized that “popular” didn’t mean “bitchy” and that my true friends were the bulk of the class who were actually nice to each other and confident with sharing our personalities, nerdy though they may be. This was also the year I started to play Final Fantasy 7. *sigh*
So, anyway, it shocks me that I didn’t get into Buffy or Harry when they first came out. I remember referring to Buffy as “that show from the movie? with the morons?” without ever having seen it, and I only read Harry Potter some months later when Cousin Jordan sang its praises, and Aunt Becky swore it wasn’t just for kids.
I enjoyed the book, but by the time the second book came out, I was probably waist-deep in college work. It soon fell by the wayside in favor of dry schoolwork or things with Calvin and Hobbes-length storylines that I could read in the dorm bathroom. I still never watched Buffy, although I remember a few friends whose senses of humor I admired telling me I should “really give it a try.”
I also recall being introduced to Family Guy by Russ Fincke around that time, which I brushed off with “the show with the talking dog? Yeah, maybe later.” Come to think of it, I’m pretty much an idiot. And I’m suddenly wondering what other cool thing in the world I’m missing out on because I have to have a sassy comeback to everything…
It wasn’t until 2003, when I cracked under the pressure of working at Eat ‘N Park and sought refuge in Switzerland for a month, that I was finally reeled into the world of Harry Potter for good. I had run away from a group of unsavory people I no longer wanted to consider my friends, and, yes, maybe fleeing the country was a little extreme. Anyway, despite the adventures I was having, it got pretty lonely. And when the sun goes behind the mountains surrounding you at about 4:00, it’s hard to fill the nights up with things other than playing in the sink and making faces at myself in the mirror (both of which I did).
I ventured into the one bookstore in town, and the only books they sold in English were the Harry Potter series. So despite the strength of the Swiss Franc and the fact that I was paying almost 3 times their American price, I bought books 2, 3, 4, and 5.
Suddenly, I was transformed back into the world of a little boy who sometimes felt lonely, questioned his decisions, but ultimately made great friends and overcame evil, and I felt a little stronger for reading it. I have a picture that I took the day I restarted the series in Switzerland, and looking at it still invokes the same feeling of being introduced to an interesting new world. Maybe you know what I’m talking about, or maybe I’m just a weirdo who really gets into books. Either way, it made me happy.
I guess it wasn’t until 2005 that I started watching Buffy. I think the delightful Matt Little took me by the shoulders and shook me, saying that he was a nerd and I was a nerd and he knew what was best. When I found out that Brett, the dark, smoky comedian, also had a secret Buffy obsession, I knew I was missing out.
I started TiVoing it and immediately noticed that I couldn’t do it this way. It relied on a lot of continuity, and I was watching some episode from, I imagine, season 6, which I still haven’t even got to yet. Watching one episode ruined like 4 story twists.
When I finally got to California, I met Julie, my former-Wiccan, sometime empath-clairvoyant, currently divinity-school-student friend, who sold me her entire Buffy/Angel collection to make room for her Star Trek and Dr. Who collection. Gotta love this woman.
The first season was a little slow, and some episodes were cheesier than others, but I was pretty much hooked. Since then, I have shown an amazing ability to pace myself, when all I really want to do is watch the entire Buffy/Angel series in one afternoon.
I am currently in the midst of Season 5, forcing myself to slow down and watch Angel between episodes to stay in the canon’s chronology. But watching Angel is sometimes like homework. If I want to watch moody people who live in LA and struggle with the hazards of being 20-something, I’ll fly back home. Well, actually, there are slightly less demon attacks in real life. But just as many infuriating lawyers.
So this past week has been especially harrowing. Buffy’s mom dies right after Buffy’s boyfriend skips the country, and her mortal enemy professes his undying love for her. Sheesh, Joss, twist the knife a little!
Joyce’s death episode was something I love seeing in series with a standard formula — bucking the system and having almost no mystical battles. It just dealt with how people react to death. Willow’s agony over which sweater to wear…I had to get more Kleenex about 3 times during that monologue. That sentence sounds absolutely absurd, but you have to see it. It was just so something someone would think about.
I hope Spike and Buffy get it on soon to lighten the mood a bit.
As for Harry, I just finished the series, and I can’t really describe my feelings better than was said here. I have been attached to the fictional lives of a group of British kids, and knowing that I’ll never hear about their antics again is a little depressing. Dude, I cried at the series finale of Fresh Prince. Although saying that may lose any credibility I previously had, I’m trying to tell you that I get sappy when things end.
Many times during the final chapters, I kept thinking how happy I was at how JK handled herself. She tied up all the strings I was hoping for. I just feel like she did everything right, and it was the perfect and perhaps only way to end it.
And now that I’ve allowed myself to read things on the internet about the final book, I’ve learned that many people don’t like the epilogue. I don’t know what these fans were looking for, and I’m not sure what other way it could have ended that would have been satisfactory.
I had a hunch for a while that Harry was a horcrux and had to die, and of course I was very concerned that JK might choose that route. I understood that she had to do what was planned, but when I read somewhere that Stephen King was pleading with her not to kill him off, I knew there would be a huge backlash if the inevitable happened. Thanks to the media, who love to spoil things, there was 24/7 Harry-Gate Coverage after the book came out. The following morning, I learned that rabid Potter fans had indeed NOT burned JK’s house to the ground, so I figured he had stayed alive. Which made me happy.
And I wonder in my heart of hearts if that was her true intention. I hope so, of course, but I keep thinking of that scene in “Stranger Than Fiction” where Emma Thompson (that’s Professor Trelawney to you) and Dustin Hoffman talk about how she changed the ending of her book so that Will Ferrell lived.
“It’s okay,” he says.
“It’s not great,” she admits.
“No, but it’s okay. It’s not bad.”
He asks why she changed it, and she replies: “It’s a book about a man who doesn’t know he’s about to die, and then dies…But if the man does know he’s going to die and dies anyway — dies willing, knowing he can stop it, then…well, isn’t that the type of man you want to keep alive?”
Yes, I just compared my favorite series to a Will Ferrell movie no one even saw, but I kept thinking of it, and Professor Trelawney has a point. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the way things turned out, and it makes me happy to think of an exhausted JK Rowling, finally letting out a deep breath and finally, after 10 years, sitting back and relaxing…on a huge pile of money.
Hopefully I won’t be equally torn up when I reach the end of Buffy, because there’s always Director’s Commentaries to look forward to and, of course, the first season of “Firefly.”
But now I’m looking at the other books I brought to Japan with me, and they all seem so cheap, so un-life-changing. Where is Gilderoy Lockhart when I need him to wipe my memory, so I can discover the series for the first time again?

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