I think so far this is the first time I was bored. There are some good, even great moments sprinkled throughout the season, but they are lost amidst the boring. When I initially watched the season on TV years ago, I had the feeling that the creators had gotten bored with making the show too and didn’t knew what to do with it anymore. The plot wasn’t just frayed, with the end of the last season it became broken. I think it partly stems from the concentration on characterization, that worked so well in the last two seasons with it’s gimmicky villains and the decreasing focus on plotting. But you can only grow and change characters so far before it becomes a soap opera (which happened on the spin-off Angel all too fast). But if you don’t concentrate on character growth, and the plotting is weak either, there’s not much left, as evidenced by this season. That was my past impression, which I now think was slightly wrong.
I think I’ve gotten what they tried with the sixth season. It’s like the Venture Brothers season of the series. The overriding theme was people failing at their lives, both the heroes as well as the villains. Buffy got addicted to Spike and their pain/lust-lovemaking, to make her feel something again. Spike got addicted to Buffy and love (going from evil hardcore vampire to love-addicted fool was kinda painful to watch). Willow got addicted to magic. Xander after seemingly making something of himself for the first time in the series failed particularly spectacularly and lost the love of his life in the process (either to idiocy or forced authorial intervention, however you want to interpret it). There were other failure modes for characters on the show.
If that was their intention, yeah, they managed that perfectly. It’s just not what I wanted from the show then and now. It’s kinda boring to see these characters fail at life in various ways. If I wanted to see a drama show without any plot, I would have watched something else. Or Venture Brothers, a show that managed to be entertaining with the same theme. But on Buffy it just didn’t worked. Apart from the last four episodes of the season. They were marvelous. But to get there you had to wade through an entire season of boredom.