The best part of BUFFY to me has always been that while Buffy and the Scoobies are living their real lives throughout each episode, the supernatural threatens them. But the story is always about them and the way they live their lives. The supernatural is secondary to their interactions. I think this formula got turned on its head during Season 7 when it became so arc-heavy with the Potentials and the First. Buffy's life became consumed by the mission. She had no life outside of the mission. And it's a huge part of why people are dissatisfied with Season 7 because it meant the Scooby interaction was pushed to the sidelines because if Buffy is all about the mission, then there's little room for anything else.
So going on to Season 8, I've been thinking about all the arcs so far and realizing the plot still seems to be coming first to character interaction and exploration. And it saddens me. I remember Joss saying about Season 6 "Au revoir le metaphor!" and sadly I think this has gone even further than he'd intended. Life is no longer a metaphor for the supernatural here. More specifically, Buffy's life is no longer a metaphor that's shown through the forces she has to fight.
Buffy's life struggles in the beginning ranged from doomed romance, to surviving high school, to maintaining her friendships, to then surviving college, to helping take care of her mother and maturing, to adjusting to life after being in heaven, to being a leader of the potentials and finally a leader to all Slayers. The personal side of her life keeps getting burned away. Maybe it's still happening, I dunno. But it's not being shown to us on the page and frankly, that's why all the fans still care. We want to see the characters interacting and having a life.