... and then I'm not looking at any more Friends stuff this morning:
What's the relationship between the Normalverse and reality on BtVS?
Our choices include:
A) Buffyverse real, Normalverse poison's effects.
B) Normalverse real, Buffyverse delusion
C) Both realities exist independently.
D) Something else.
I've talked about this before on someone's journal, which I'll never remember now. My line is that Buffyverse is real and the Buffy Institutionalized is a false delusion. I see the last few seconds of the scene in the hospital as being the real Buffy in the Buffyverse looking back at the comfort of the delusion and wistfully thinking about if it would be worth being crazy to know that Joyce is alive and her and her dad are still together. I choose not to interpret it as being "proof" that Buffy is really there in a psychotic break.
My reasons are pretty straightforward: The delusion is too complicated to be real. If the Buffyverse only exists in Buffy's mind, that means that Angel only existed in her head, which means that his whole leaving for L.A. only existed in her head which means that this whole time she's been having TWO incredibly detailed delusions. At the same time she's making up characters and events in Sunnydale, she's also making up brand new characters and situations for her delusion-induced fake ex-boyfriend's life, too.
That is taking the possibility that everything is one giant delusion JUST TOO FAR. And, while Joss likes to play with the audience, I don't see him as being this disrespectful to tell us that everything we've been getting so emotionally involved in has been a giant put-over on us - a big joke at our expense - <insert a Nelson HAH-hah> - which I just don't buy.
If it was only Sunnydale's stories that would be impacted, then yes, I'd accept an interpretation that she is in the booby-hatch and we've all got egg on our faces. But when you add Angel's adventures, that is just too much for the explanation to work.
So, why can't both of them be true and the demon poison somehow connected Buffy's perception with her alter-egos? I can actually support this interpretation without much problem, even if it isn't my preferred choice. If this were spell induced, I'd accept this option as at least a likely possibility - but the fact that it is a toxin bothers me. Why would a poison allow someone to view an entirely different reality? Even a mystic poison would be hard pressed to pull that off - and why this particular reality - unless the other-verse Buffy was also injected with a variation of this poison that would allow the two Buffy's to briefly connect across dimensional realities. There is no indication that the other-Buffy is perceiving Sunnydale, however, except in as far as the doctor is acknowledging that is why she is there. But, it means that not only would the poison have to allow Buffy's consciousness access between the 'verses, but it would also have to have some sort of temporal distortion allowing one Buffy to have suffered her visions at a different point in time than her counterpart (the Normal Buffy has already been in hospital for some time - probably back in Season 2 when she tried to tell her parents about the vampires she was 'hallucinating' about), while our Buffy isn't impacted until years later.
Even if this were somehow a factor, what in the 'real' world would have the properties necessary to mimic the demonic poison our Buffy is dealing with in her universe?
See - it's just too complicated for it to be realistic, unless you start messing with the properties of the Normalverse, which will immediately negate the whole point behind the episode. You could certainly write a fanfiction in which a version of the normal universe included a compound that mimicked the properties of the demon poison in the Buffyverse and allowed the scenario to play out - but that is clearly not Diego Gutierrez' intention. His intention is clearly to place Buffy in a universe which we, ourselves - the audience, writers, directors, etc - are inhabiting and here there are no substances that could allow us to receive visions of our alternate selves lives in other realities.
So - the Buffyverse is real, the Normalverse is a delusion caused by 1 part demon poisoning and 2 parts Buffy's struggling to live in a world where this is all her actual life and her numbed depression at losing the utter peace of Heavenly existence.