Joss Whedon Never Had A Real Plan For Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Cheese Man
Whedon discusses the Cheese Man in the DVD commentary of “Restless.” He explains:
“The Cheese Man: meaningless. Why? Because I needed something in the show that was meaningless, because there is always something in the dream that just doesn’t make any sense at all. In this case, it was the Cheese Man. He confounds everybody because of that, and people ascribe him meaning. This, to me, means that we’re being successful because this means they’re not worried about everything else, which means they sort of did understand most other things.”
Despite this, theories about the Cheese Man abound, even after all this time. Over the years, I’ve heard everything from “the cheese stands alone” as Buffy does, to the cheese is the connective tissue between this close-knit group of friends, to Whedon is simply a huge fan of cheese. “Buffy Meets the Academy: Essays on the Episodes and Scripts as Texts” has an entire section written by Melanie Wilson arguing that not only is the Cheese Man not meaningless, but he is actually an integral aspect of “Restless.”
As someone who once dreamt I gave birth to a litter of socks, I’m not going to argue whether or not the Cheese Man has some deeper significance, though, for me, he was always just a gag. Ultimately, dreams have whatever meaning you attribute to them. Whedon may have added the Cheese Man as a nonsensical comedic element, but it’s pretty fascinating that there are so many varying beliefs about a character with practically no screen time.
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is still my favorite show ever, even if its creator has made my love for it increasingly complicated. Just because the Cheese Man is meaningless to Whedon, doesn’t mean fans can’t find meaning wherever they choose.