Even I have to admit that it’s pretty funny that when I sat down to write about Buffy’s famously terribly internet episode… I got distracted by the fact that my website is apparently full of hacker garbage. Where is Willow when I need her?
(I’ll figure it out. By which I mean, I have smart friends. But I think one of the lessons here is Don’t Leave Your Domain Ignored and Sad for More Than Four Years OK.)
“I, Robot… You, Jane”—which I am going to call “IRYJ” from here on our, because it’s easier and it looks like a new Meyers-Briggs type—was never a good episode. Not ever. It was dated from the moment it was written, and on top of that, it contains some of the clunkiest you-don’t-support-my-relationship dialogue ever written.
But I kind of love it. By the time this episode aired, I had already met my first terrifying, possibly murdery Internet People. It’s been more than 20 years since I first got in my dad’s car and went to a cybercafe (they were a thing, I swear) in Portland to meet up with a handful of people I’d been talking to via IRC. I even kissed one of them. (He looked a bit like Riley from later Buffy, were Riley actually attractive to me, and he played XTC in his car and wanted to kiss me because it’d just been a really long time since he kissed anybody. I was very young, ok?)
The internet has brought me a lot of people. From IRC to Diaryland to LiveJournal to oh-hey-now-everyone’s-talking-about-their-lives-on-social-media, and back to tiny, secret pockets again, I’ve found my people. I was finding them even before that when, as a young teen, I submitted my name to the pen pal section of Metal Edge magazine, a thing I can only barely grasp was both ok with my parents and not viewed as totally dangerous. But I lived in rural Oregon, and half the people I wound up spending years writing letters to didn’t even know where my state was.
But in 1995, meeting people from the internet was definitely kinda weird, so I can forgive Buffy her reaction when, two years later, Willow got an internet boyfriend.
Season 1, Episode 8, “I, Robot… You, Jane”
Written by: Ashley Gable & Thomas A. Swyden
Directed by: Stephen Posey
Original airdate: Monday, April 28, 1997
Rewatch date: Friday, April 28, 2017
“I know our ways are strange to you, but soon you’ll join us in the 20th century—with three whole years to spare!”