It’s Not Too Late To Watch: ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’
21 years on, and Buffy is still worth watching.
“Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.” But if you’re one of the people who totally missed why Buffy The Vampire slayer was one of the best shows on television. Luckily, it’s not too late to start watching.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is now over 21-years-old, and it’s recently been announced that series creator Joss Whedon is going to reboot the iconic show. This is a pretty bad idea for a number of reasons, including the fact that Whedon has been established as a fairly premium ballbag, and we should be pretty suspicious of all his projects. Especially considering his ill-fated Batgirl script.
But the most compelling reason is that Buffy is still amazing television. It was a show that was revolutionary for its time, a vanguard for feminism and genre TV. It was about a tiny girl who beat up vampires. It was also deeply weird.
In short, it’s perfect, and it’s time to jump on the Buffy train.
Are You Ready To Be Strong?
The first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer opens up with a teen couple breaking into a dark high school.
It’s an immediately recognisable horror trope, with something bad clearly about to happen to the trembling blonde girl in a uniform. But after building the suspense, Buffy twists that trope, and shock — the tiny blonde girl is the vampire — and she turns on the pushy sexually aggressive jock and eats all his blood. It’s cool.
This scene is emblematic of what Buffy the Vampire Slayer is about — a world where one tiny blonde girl is given the power to fight back against the monsters that lurk in the dark. It was pretty necessary for its time, a vampire slaying superhero to join the ranks of the Spice Girls and Xena in carrying the flag for female empowerment.
And as important as that was, Buffy was also specifically important to girls and young women — she was boldly and rebelliously all about being a teenage girl, in a time when that was seen as being a punchline and a joke. She balanced the ability to chop demons heads off with the unrepentant desire to date boys, to wear cute clothes, and go to prom.
It was pretty amazing.
It was also an extremely queer show, not only representing a loving relationship between two lesbian witches — in the early naughties, no less — it was also the first on-screen representation of magically floating cunnilingus.
It’s About Power
Even though some of the feminism is slightly dated these days, the heart and soul of Buffy hasn’t.
Buffy is a really fun show that swings from campy horror through sci-fi, action and teen drama. This show has LAYERS. And there’s no way that it could have been carried off without some incredible writing and a brilliant cast. Sarah Michelle Gellar really threw herself into being Buffy, to such an extent that it’s almost impossible to separate them now.
It’s the dialogue that carries the show, helping the characters express moments of true vulnerability and sadness amidst all the vampire slaying, or quips and sallies to lighten the drama. At the time, the show was sometimes deplored for its light and bubbly slang, but it’s one of the most quotable shows in the world. And it’s sometimes easy to forget it was FUNNY.
“If the apocalypse comes, beep me,” she says, outdatedly.
At its heart, Buffy was an ensemble show, that continually pushed the message that being alone was never as strong as being surrounded by friends.
“Seize The Moment, ‘Cause Tomorrow You Might Be Dead.”
There’s just so many iconic moments in Buffy — they can range from the dramatic — such as Buffy’s leap into another dimension, or the time she lost her virginity to a vampire — to the incredibly silly, like the episode where she couldn’t stop reading minds, or the time magic beer turned her into a literal neanderthal.
There’s kickass fights, like when she fulfilled every teenage fantasy and blew up the school or her show-down with her nemesis Faith, the evil slayer.
Buffy is known for one of the most tragic TV deaths ever on screen, a brutal and brilliantly executed episode that once seen can never really be forgotten. I won’t spoil it for anyone who isn’t aware, plus anyone who’s seen the show already knows. We can never un-know.
There’s also the time Buffy magically introduced a new family member in the fifth season of the show, and just pretended that she’d always been there. It was a bold move, and an amazing way to shake up the plot, even if that character was generally regarded as being stupendously annoying.
Also, Buffy had the greatest musical episode of any TV show ever.
They also spend a lot of time in the school library, which is full of occult books of magic. Also, Giles is actually very hot.
There’s also the time Buffy died (again). This show has it all.
She Who Hangs Out In Cemeteries A Lot
It would be weird to find someone who hasn’t at least heard about Buffy, who knows about the mythology of the sassy, slangy teenager who kills vampires, even without having ever seen an episode. That’s how much of a pop-culture phenomenon she became.
There’s also conversations that have endured beyond the show — for example, the question of which Buffy boyfriend is better is a fun one. You’ve got Angel, the dourest cup of soup in the world, the loaf of bread that was Riley or the incredibly sexy Spike. Who will win?
It’s worth watching just so you can find out the story behind the hype.
Where To Start Watching Buffy?
Seasons one and two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are dated — it looks grainy, the special effects are hard to watch and theres some really good old-fashioned slut-shaming level of gender politics going on. That said, some of the best gags and story arcs are still in those early seasons.
Of course, there’s numerous problems with the show — there’s some extremely troubling lack of racial diversity, which is unfortunately common for TV shows of the time. They basically invented the tragedy-queer trope. And there is a sexual assault storyline in a later season that is just… bad. But, if you want to push through, you will be rewarded.
Just know that the third season is often regarded as the best of the entire series, so you don’t have to wait long to get to peak Buffy, and her nemesis, a small-town mayor who just wants to be a giant snake.
A lot of people reckon the series becomes much worse by the sixth, but conversely, it could be said it transmutes into something darker and equally amazing. You gotta make your way to the apocalyptic and empowering end of Buffy.
the only Buffy the Vampire Slayer I’ll ever acknowledge. pic.twitter.com/0q1at2xX7o
— Sarah (@SarahBelles23) July 25, 2018
Where To Watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer In Australia?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be streaming on Stan.
Patrick Lenton is an author and entertainment writer at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.