Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 2

Living Conditions

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Oct 12, 1999 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
550 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Dorm life proves to be a challenge as Buffy has to deal with a roommate who is more than a little bit difficult. Kathy plays music that Buffy hates, labels all her food in the refrigerator, borrows clothes without asking, and gets in the way of Buffy's Slayer duties. She even starts flirting with Parker, Buffy's first college infatuation. Eventually, Buffy comes to the only logical conclusion: Kathy is evil, and must be killed.moreless

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  • This episode is a stand-alone which doesn't do much for character or plot development, but remains very fun nonetheless.

    Buffy's in college now and it's fun to see the writers tackle the "bad roommate" topic through, of course, a metaphor! Buffy's roommate turns out to actually be a demon. It seems like Buffy and Willow weren't roommates from the beginning just so they could do an episode like this. I suppose that's convenient, but since Kathy goes away in this episode and it's so much fun, I think I can forgive the writers.

    Early on we see Buffy hanging out at Giles' apartment as a way to escape being with Kathy. I must say that Buffy is sweet, cute, and absolutely adorable during this scene. It's fun when Giles points out what all of us are thinking, "Uh, it's a good day for me, actually. A friend of mine recently acquired a-uh an original Gutenberg demonography... and it suddenly occurred to me that you've never once asked me what my day's plans were, which leads me to inquire whether you're feeling entirely Giles almost immediately gets the truth out of Buffy while at the same time illustrating the point that he is really at loose ends. Buffy says, "Ok, you're not having one of those mid-life things, are you? 'Cause I'm still going 'ick' from the last time you tried to recapture your The truth of the matter is that he actually is in the beginning stages of a "mid-life We'll see even more of this as he begins to hang out with Xander a lot in upcoming episodes.

    A small moment I enjoyed was Parker's dining card speech to Buffy and her subsequent excitement over a new guy making conversation with her. Sure in retrospect her giddiness with Parker is kind of painful to watch, but it's always fun to see Buffy this excited.

    I liked the zoom ins and sound effects used throughout the episode. During a few scenes sounds are amplified and mundane things like clipping nails or biting into a sandwich are brought into full focus. We've never seen BtVS do this, at least quite to this extent, and it's funny and fresh to see in a stand-alone. I really enjoyed the zoom ins on Buffy eyes as she scowls at the ketchup dripping on her shirt and then later Willow eating her food, right after she says that she thinks she is pretty outgoing. Sure it's lightweight, but it's done in such a way that it doesn't come across as cheesy or silly. All of these comments directly apply to the milk scene, which is: OMG. That's how much I love it when Buffy opens a carton of milk and tries to drink the entire thing in one chug, even when most of it starts pouring out of her mouth and onto the floor. The reason why I can be amused by a moment like this because this of its rarity in BtVS. Plus, the fact that Buffy's soul is slowly being taken away from her perfectly explains all of wonky behavior.

    One thing that bothers me a bit is how little conversation we get about no soul Buffy. We see that Buffy's soul dissipates to the point of willing to kill someone she thinks is human. Frankly, I'd be fascinated to see a little bit more of what a no soul Buffy is capable of -- that'd be really fun to watch. It would have been even more interesting if she'd killed a human in this state and then got her soul back afterwards. Imagine the possibilities for making commentary on Angel. This isn't a big deal for me or anything, it's just something I'm curious about.

    Pretty much the only outright complaint I have of the episode is the silly demons and their corny language. They do not get any development and were simply there to bring Kathy back to their dimension. Also, the joke at the end about Kathy being treated like she's only 900 year old wasn't funny to me in the slightest. Anyway, this episode delivers the goods -- I was thoroughly entertained by this amusing but completely inconsequential episode.moreless
  • Funny and interesting

    The Good;

    Kathy is a wonderful character and I wish we'd seen her again (the actress later turns up as recurring character in Desperate Housewives, the nurse who accidentally kills Carlos' mother). I was genuinely suprised that she was a demon, I thought Buffy was going nuts (great performance from SMG, amazing what a little eye-shadow can do). The fight between the 2 at the end and the argument between Kathy and her dad is terrific. The final gag is excellent too although Buffy's scarf makes her look a lot like Joyce when she's had her operation.

    The Bad;

    Exactly how long would it have taken the demons to work out that Buffy wasn't Kathy?

    Best line;

    Kathy; I just wanted to make sure we didn't have a thief or somthing?

    Buffy; Like who? Sid the wiley dairy gnome?

    but I also like Oz; 'On the plus side you killed the bench which was looking shifty' and 'No one deserves mime'

    Character death; none

    Tied up;

    Buffy is netted and tied up by Xander, Oz and Giles. They need to work on their Boy Scout skills though (Buffy's been tied up and escaped countless times and I'm sure escapology must be part of Slayer training?)

    Knocked out;

    Yep, Oz and Xander by Buffy

    Women good/men bad;

    Patriarchical demons not letting their daughters go to college. On the other hand it seems that Hank still helps out with Buffy's tuition.


    Kathy slamming the phone into Buffy's face is gruesome yet oddly funny

    Kinky dinky;

    Xander wonders why Giles doesn't have any manacles like any self-respecting bachelor? Both Oz and Xander admire Parker's 'driveby' hitting on Buffy.

    Calling Captain Subtext;

    Kathy puts the moves on Parker much to Buffy chagrin. Buffy and Willow end up in the end being roomates. And here is Veruca for the first time, the little scene between her and Oz subtle but incredibly significant. Willow refers to Parker as the cutie-patootie once again casting her as Bi rather than gay. Willow refers to Giles as their 'grown up friend' but not in a creepy way.

    Scoobies to the ER;

    Buffy isn't hurt despite the no-holds barred thrashing she and Kathy give each other

    Where's Dawn?

    Kathy comments that Buffy has always been an only child, well not always. She also says she and Buffy are like sisters, well Dawn and Buff fight too and Dawn turns out not to be what she seems

    Questions and observations;

    Giles reads Scooter and Motorbike magazine, did he sell Wes his? A funny but pretty slight ep with some good performances from the leads. I think season 4 is just taking a little time to find it's feet.

    Marks out of 10; 6/10, a slight ep but a cracker, funny and interesting.

  • Great episode!

    This is def one of my favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes so far! I loved all the humor in it. Don't get me wrong I love all the heavy drama in this series, but it's nice to have a light-hearted feeling episode from time to time. So, it was def no surprise to me that Buffy & Willow end up becoming roomates, but I was surprised by the story that got them to that point. I really didn't expect Kathy to be evil! Annoying & socially maladjusted, yes. But not evil! That's one thing I really like about Buffy...It's always surprising me!moreless
  • Are they ever going to trust Buffy's instincts?

    In this episode, Buffy's roommate, Kathy is driving Buffy crazy. She thinks that she's a demon, and nobody believes her, and in the end, she finds out that she's right. This is not the first, or last, time that this will happen. The first was with the dummy, Sid. Then there was Ted, now there's this. Another running gag was that Xander seemed to have liked her, and she's a Demon. It also shows Buffy's testy side, and it has a real good fight scene at the end. It was also funny to see the spoiled-brat of a demon at the end of the episode. This episode not only meets the Buffy the Vampire Slayer standard, but passes it.moreless
  • Living Conditions

    Living Conditions was a great second episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This episode saw Buffy trying to learn to live with her obnoxiously annoying roommate. Buffy tells Kathy she's going for coffee as an excuse to go patrol, but when Kathy tags along and their attacked by a demon things start getting weird! Both of them start having a crazy nightmare about the same kind of demon that attacked them performing a ritual on them. As Buffy grows continually agitated the gang starts to wonder if she will fly off the deep end and hurt someone. This episode was a very relatable rite of passage, for college viewers especially! I thought that the story was well thought out and delivered!moreless
Dagney Kerr

Dagney Kerr

Kathy Newman

Guest Star

Clayton Barber

Clayton Barber

Demon 1

Guest Star

Walt Borchert

Walt Borchert

Demon 2

Guest Star

Adam Kaufman

Adam Kaufman

Parker Abrams

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • In this episode we can hear Cher's hit single "Believe." This is the first time up to this point in the series that we hear music which could already be considered "popular." Buffy's roommate, Kathy is also a big fan of Celine Dion, since we saw that she has her poster in previous episode, "The Freshman". Her song might be featured on the Diva's Audio CD, which Buffy and Willow mention during this episode.

    • Nitpick: When Xander asks where Kathy is from she says Nebraska and he replies, "Big Sky Country." Big Sky Country is actually a motto for Montana not Nebraska.

    • When Buffy is talking to Giles, she mentions his previous attempt to recapture his youth. This is another reference to the episode "Band Candy".

    • Goof: When Buffy and Kathy are fighting at the end, Kathy puts Buffy through the closet door. When she pulls her out, there is a piece of wood under Buffy's back. But in the next shot when Buffy tries to strangle her with the sweater, the piece of wood has disappeared.

    • Goof: When Buffy fights that demon near the beginning of the episode, you can clearly see that the person fighting the demon is not Sarah Michelle Gellar.

    • Goof: When Oz and Xander walk toward the bound Buffy, Oz is on Xander's right. After Buffy knocks their heads together, the shot of them on the floor has Oz now on Xander's left.

    • Goof: When Giles and Buffy are talking outside his apartment, Giles' towel goes from in his hand to over his shoulder in different shots.

  • QUOTES (28)

    • Buffy: Listening to the best of VH1 all day sorta put me on edge.
      Willow: Kathy's still spinning the divas?
      Buffy: 'Cause it's the funnest! It's no big. College is a time of change, right? Before too long, she'll be trip-hopping all over the place.

    • Giles: Clearly something is amiss.
      Buffy: Yeah, something's amiss here, a Miss Kathy Newman.

    • Giles: What sort of demon?
      Buffy: He had a cloak on and glowing green eyes. And his skin had a, like, super-bad fake rub-on tan.
      Giles: Translate?
      Buffy: Orangey.

    • Willow: Happy hunting.
      Buffy: Wish me monsters.

    • Buffy: And what are we, if not women up to a challenge?
      Willow: Exactly. I mean, did we not put the "grr" in "girl"?

    • Buffy: Kathy's nice and all, but she's, sort of, I don't know, like, Mini-Mom of Momdonia.

    • (as Kathy starts playing Cher's song Believe)
      Buffy: Wow, this music is so, so...
      Kathy: I know. This song is super fun, isn't it?
      Buffy: You bet. It just gets funner and funner every time you play it.

    • Xander: I... uh... don't think I tied the knots tight enough.
      Oz: I'm not getting near her...
      (Oz and Xander look at each other and hesitantly make their way toward Buffy, as they reach her, she reaches around and knocks their heads together, knocking them out)
      Buffy: Nope! Not tight enough!

    • Xander: Just thought I'd come around and (slaps Oz on the leg) check on my girls.

    • Buffy: She has parts that keep growing after they're detached. She irons her jeans. She's evil! She has to be destroyed.
      Giles: I fear the demon that Buffy met in the woods has somehow possessed her.
      Buffy: Lite FM. Love songs. Nothing but love songs!
      Xander: Ya think?

    • Kathy: I'm 3000 years old. When are you going to stop treating me like I'm 900?

    • Xander: Buffy, this hurts me more than it hurts you.
      Buffy: Not yet, but it will.
      Xander: Don't say that. Please don't say that.

    • Willow: Toenails?
      Buffy: Evil toenails. I took them off the floor last night when she was in the bathroom. She thought I was asleep.
      Willow: Good thinking. 'Cause in the middle of the night, those toenails could have attacked you and left little half-moon marks all over your body.

    • Buffy: So then, Kathy's like, "It's share time," and I'm like, "Oh, yeah? share this!" (punches the air)
      Oz: So either you hit her, or you did your wacky mime routine for her.
      Buffy: Well, I didn't do either, actually. but she deserved it, don't you think?
      Oz: Nobody deserves mime, Buffy.

    • Willow: If it wasn't for this English paper, I'd be there right now, listening, doing the girly best-friend thing.
      Oz: Well, I can do that.
      Willow: You can?
      Oz: Oh, I'm not saying we'll braid each other's hair... probably. But I can hang with her, watch for signs she's going over the edge.

    • Willow: What kind of demon runs around putting ooky blood dreams into people's heads? Like some kind of nightmare fairy. It's not right.
      Oz: Well, I'm against it.

    • Buffy: Cool. You guys can do the brain thing. I'm gonna go to class.
      Oz: Which could also be construed as the brain thing.
      Buffy: Not when you're minoring in Napping 101.
      Willow: Okay, so that was the evil twin, right? 'Cause she was bordering on Cordelia-esque.

    • Kathy: Sounds like somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.
      Buffy: Mm-hmm. And guess what? You were next to it.

    • Buffy: And the worst part? I wake up, and there's Kathy staring at me like I'm some kind of freak.
      Oz: Well, actually, the worst part, I'd have to go with the demon pouring the blood down your throat.
      Willow: Me, too. I would vote for that, too.

    • Kathy: Eww! Who left their gum here?
      Buffy: Gum gnome?

    • Xander: Hey! Say hi to non-college guy.
      Buffy: Not that I mind, but don't non-college guys usually populate the non-campus?

    • Buffy: What are you doing today?
      Giles: It's a big day for me, actually. A friend of mine recently acquired an original Gutenberg demonography, and it suddenly occurs to me that you've never once asked me what my day's plans were, which would lead me to inquire whether you're feeling entirely yourself.
      Buffy: That's not true. I ask about you all the time. Okay, well, maybe the words don't actually make it out of my mouth, but I think about it.
      Giles: And it's appreciated.

    • Buffy: Did you just hear something?
      Willow: I'm chewing my gum kind of loud.
      Buffy: That's not it.
      Willow: My sneakers are squeaky.
      Buffy: I'm looking for something lurky here, Will.

    • Buffy: You run?
      Giles: And jump. And bend. And occasionally frolic.
      Buffy: Okay... and what's with "Motorbike & Scooter" magazine?
      Giles: Congratulations, you found me out. I'm a mod jogger.
      Buffy: Okay, you're not having one of those mid-life things, are you? 'Cause I'm still going "ick" from the last time you tried to recapture your youth.

    • Kathy: I just wanted to make sure that we didn't have a thief or something.
      Buffy: Like who? Sid the Wily Dairy Gnome?

    • Buffy: She's the Titanic! She's a crawling black cancer! (Buffy kicks out and breaks a nearby bench) She's ... other really bad things!
      Oz: Well, on the plus side you killed the bench, which was looking shifty.

    • Giles: You took your roommate patrolling with you?
      Buffy: Well, I invited the whole dorm, but she was the only one who could make it.

    • Willow: Giles. I just talked to Buffy and, yeah, I think she's feeling a little crazy. No, not bitchy crazy, more like homicidal maniac crazy. So I told her to come see you, 'kay?

  • NOTES (8)

  • ALLUSIONS (12)

    • Buffy: Okay, you're not having one of those mid-life things, are you? 'Cause I'm still going "ick" from the last time you tried to recapture your youth.
      Buffy is alluding to the Season 3 episode "Band Candy" in which chocolates sold in Sunnydale were turning the grown-ups mentally into adolescents. Giles and Joyce, under the affliction of the candy ended up having sex on a police car twice, as mentioned in the episode "Earshot" when Buffy discovered it.

    • Xander: That's because he got hit by the Buffinator.
      Buffy: You think?
      Oz: No question, he'll be back.
      "The Buffinator" is a play on the movie The Terminator, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger is famous for the line "I'll be back."

    • Giles: A friend of mine recently acquired an original Gutenberg demonography.

      This is a reference to Johann Gutenberg who was a German goldsmith and printer. He is often credited with invention of movable type printing, this is a process that made it possible to publish many copies of a single work at one time.

    • Xander: Wait, are you saying that Buffy's been doing a Linda Blair on us because Kathy's been sucking her soul?
      Xander alludes to Buffy's nasty attitude with a reference to Linda Blair, the actress who played the possessed child in the movie The Exorcist. Linda Blair is also the host of Scariest Places on Earth. They explore haunted areas trying to learn about the world or spirits.

    • Buffy: She's the Titanic. She's a crawling black cancer.
      Buffy's ranting about Kathy includes a reference to the famous shipwreck disaster.

    • Parker: Uh, I'm not sure, we sort of got caught up talking Red Wings. It turns out that Kathy's a closet hockey fan.
      The Red Wings are the Detroit based team of the National Hockey League.

    • Oz: Stuff like, scorpions? And Bloody Mary minus the Mary?
      A Bloody Mary is an alcoholic drink made with tomato juice and vodka. The name is also the nickname of Mary Tudor of England, who ruled for the 5 years previous to Elizabeth Tudor, known as Elizabeth the First. Her hatred of the Protestant religion stemmed from her father's (Henry the Eigth) creation of Anglicanism as a front to cast aside her mother in favor of Anne Boleyn. She was given the name due to her persecution and execution of so many protestants during her reign.

    • Buffy: Umm, had a cloak on, and glowing green eyes, and skin had a, like, super-bad fake rub-on tan.
      Buffy describes the demon's orange skin by comparing it to a bad fake tan. Sunless tanning lotions are supposed to give you a tanned appearance without exposure to the sun or other sources of UV light. The early, cheaper varieties, however, tended to give the skin an orange color.

    • Buffy: I bet before too long she'll be trip-hopping all over the place.
      Trip-hop is a form of moody, downtempo electronic music that originated in Bristol, England. It was very popular with U.S. college students in the late 1990s. Some of the music that appears in Buffy episodes is at least borderline trip-hop.

    • Buffy: Listening to the best of VH-1 all day sort of put me on edge.
      VH-1 is a music video channel (similar to MTV) that targets an older audience. The music on VH-1 is not normally what we'd expect a college student to listen to.

    • Kathy: I figure, "Stitch in time ..."
      Buffy: "... catches the worm"
      Kathy starts the saying "A stitch in time saves nine" and Buffy ends it with the end of the expression "The early bird catches the worm". The sayings have different meanings. Kathy's expression promotes doing work now to save work later and Buffy's is about waking up early in the morning.

    • Buffy: I'm seriously caffeine deprived. Figured I'd head down to the Grotto and get a Jolt and, you know, do some studying.
      Jolt Cola is advertised as having "all the sugar and twice the caffeine". It and Mountain Dew (which is also high in caffeine) are the late night study session drinks of choice on many college campuses.