With the recent 12-year anniversary of the hit show Buffy the Vampire Slayer having come to an end following its seven-season run, I thought it would be fun to take a look back to what made this show so great.
Disclaimer: I didn’t actually watch the show until 2013, but it’s since become my favorite show of all time and I did a rewatch of the whole series a year later.
It’s hard to choose where to start with this show and all the great things it’s accomplished. I highly recommend the show to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, so I’ve kept this piece largely void of spoilers. For those who have seen it before, enjoy this nostalgia trip.
The show follows teenager Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), who discovers that she is the Slayer according to a prophecy, which entails her having to slay vampires, demons and the other forces of darkness. Of course, that’s hard enough without the perils of high school she must face on a daily basis. At the beginning of the show, she and her friends Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) and Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) along with her watcher Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) battle the forces of darkness regularly, all while trying to blend in at Sunnydale High. Joining them were Buffy’s vampiric love interest Angel (David Boreanaz), Queen Bee Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) and werewolf named Oz (Seth Green).
As the seasons progressed, part of the group headed to college and eventually tried to get on in the real world as young adults, all while facing monster after monster.
Joss Whedon wrote an incredible cast of characters that received top-notch development over the show’s run. New characters such as the oft-changing vampire Spike (James Marsters), blunt ex-demon Anya Jenkins (Emma Caulfield), witch Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) and young teenager Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) were seamlessly transitioned into the plot in a manner that worked well, joining or replacing the older characters.
One of the biggest perks of the show is how unique it was in delivering a female protagonist like Buffy that kicked ass, but also went through the motions of life that most of us do, displaying not only superhuman strength, but very human shortcomings. She reminded us that we all have our flaws.
Willow was also a very empowering character for women. She had arguably the best character development throughout the show, transitioning from a shy, technologically-gifted geek in high school to a powerful badass witch over the course of the seasons. Both sides had their positive and negative traits.
Conversely, the character of Xander empowered men. Xander was unique on the show in that he was one of the few characters that didn’t have super strength or magical skills or anything that made him seemingly unique. Xander possessed gifts not many other characters on the show consistently showcased: his heart, love for his friends and the ability to see outside the box regarding the tough situations he and his group faced. Xander proved that being a normal but compassionate individual was a power itself.
I could go on all day about what makes each character great. The show consistently used witty and unspoken analogies for our daily lives. Buffy and the rest of the Scooby Gang, as her friends became known as, had to take down a very powerful enemy, or ‘Big Bad,’ in each season while battling personal issues while finding out things about themselves and their friends. There were other enemies they had to take down occasionally as well, some of them symbolizing real-life obstacles: a pack of student hyenas as an analogy for the human mob mentality or Moloch, a symbol for a cyber predator, and showing how seemingly innocent wishes could lead to disasters, etc.
The show consistently blended several genres, creating a very unique niche in television. Comedy, drama, horror and romance were blended to result in the perfect brew. There was even a musical episode, “Once More With Feeling,” which showcased the immense talent of the cast. I’m normally not a fan of musicals, but the episode still delivered an interesting plot while endearing us all that much more to the characters as they unwillingly revealed their juicy secrets to the rest of the gang through song.
Another great thing about the show is that it isn’t without its dark moments that sometimes break up a happy atmosphere. Beloved characters meet their untimely demise throughout the show. In some cases, you know it’s coming, and in others, the viewer is caught completely by surprise.
While some seasons may be better than others, all of them have their high points, in my opinion. The plot is fantastic and engaging, and very binge-worthy.
It’s never too late to try and get into the show. It’s on Netflix, and now that it’s summer, it’s prime time to binge-watch a show. You won’t regret giving Buffy the Vampire Slayer a chance, as it’s a prime example of why people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.