Turns out, Buffy the Vampire Slayer can't even buy itself an Emmy nomination. Just ask the show's creator-executive producer Joss Whedon, who reached into his own pockets to help fund an aggressive campaign to get voters' attention. With a zero return on his investment — the critically acclaimed dramedy failed to get a single nod — Whedon naturally is bummed.

"I feel a certain embarrassment," he tells TV Guide Online. "I feel like I just spent a lot of money trolling for a compliment that I didn't get. So I felt stupid having even gone there.

"But that's part of the business," he adds. "You're supposed to pay for an Emmy campaign. My wife is like, 'Why don't you give the money to something worthy and get an Emmy for free?' I was like, 'That makes sense, honey.' So you feel kind of like a dork having tried, because we were never meant to get Emmys. It's Buffy the Vampire Slayer!"

Still, after receiving a 2000 writing nomination for his silent but bloody-good "Hush" installment, Whedon — who topped himself with this year's haunting "Body" episode in which Buffy's mom dies — felt the show was just a few Variety ads short of pulling a major upset. "I thought we had a shot with 'The Body,'" he admits. "It seemed like the kind of show that might get nominated. Also, my actors really shone in it. And because we're going to a new network, I wanted them to be able to carry that prestige."

Whedon's Buffy partner, executive producer Marti Noxon, believes the way to crack the Emmy code is by recruiting a younger electorate. "The voting population are not the people who watch our show," she laments. "And I think the newer people to the [Writers Guild of America] and the [Screen Actors Guild] don't know they can join the Academy."

But in the end, Buffy's overlooked title heroine, Sarah Michelle Gellar, points out that, "We don't make the show to win awards." Adds James Marsters, who plays her vampire suitor Spike: "Also, it's kind of cool: We're not mainstream."