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This is not the post I meant to write. I meant to write something deep and searching about the Buffy/Faith relationship in S3: the twin forehead-kisses, the dream, and how much I loathe the Buffy-Angel-Faith "triangle" as a catalyst. Or, failing that, a post about how much of an overhaul the show got when it went to college.

Instead, I want to talk about Kathy Newman.

This is Kathy Newman:

She's a little strange. She's got a thing for out-of-date divas and is, oh, just a bit of neat freak. Also a control freak: witness the neatly labeled eggs in the fridge. She irons her jeans.

There's nothing terribly appealing about her. She's not geeky-cool like Willow or dorky-cool like Xander, and certainly not actually cool, like Oz. She's also kind of grabby and kind of clingy and rather insensitive to social cues, and a bit of a whiner.

In fact, other than being soulless demon from another dimension, she's the closest this show's come to a real person in quite a while.

I make a lot of jokes about how "only in southern California" do teenagers wear makeup to bed and ass-high skirts to school and quip like there's no tomorrow, but it's not actually California, it's TV. These are all TV people on my screen, and though I love and laugh at and hurt with some of them, they are not people like I know people. They're too pretty, too witty, and too fashionably dressed regardless of supposed financial handicaps. I've lived in seven states in three regions, and I've never met people like these people.

Instead, I've met people like Kathy. Kathy isn't shiny or cool or witty, and her clothes don't always match. Unlike Buffy or Xander, Kathy is someone I could have met in high school. They're larger than life, but Kathy's just about life-sized.

Which is why, in the end, I'm really sorry she turns out to be a demon. By the middle of "Living Conditions" she's lost pretty much all my sympathy, but she's still full of idiosyncracies and irritations, and she still has unfortunate taste in pants. You know, like real people.

(It's also pretty annoying that, once again, Buffy gets to put the smackdown on her interpersonal struggles. The camera winks at us: "Look, kids! She really is the roommate from hell!" but you know, sometimes we don't get to slay the people we don't like.)

(Also, there's meta just waiting to be written about the fact that even disguised as human, Kathy is distinguishable by her lack of soul, which implies that other demons who "pass," like vengeance demons, do have souls. Likewise, something should be said about how losing her soul affects Buffy and how gaining one affects Kathy. But not by me, at least not tonight.)
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