Throwback Thursday: Why You Should Watch (or Re-watch) Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an excellent program that ran from 1997-2003. If you’ve already seen it, then you are aware just how awesome it is, and your soul will benefit from you re-watching it. If you haven’t seen it, then you are in for a treat of epic proportions. Here’s why.

Joss Whedon created it.

Whedon is a well-known director responsible for many blockbuster movies in recent years, including several Marvel films,  as well as the cult TV hits Firefly and Serenity, which are excellent programs as well. According to the show’s IMDb page, “[t]he idea for Buffy came from all the horror movies he had seen featuring a helpless young blonde who would almost always be the first to die,” and Whedon “felt she needed a better image.” Buffy is a traditional girly-girl in many senses of the word. She’s a cheerleader who likes to look nice. She worries about boys and being popular, but she is still the Slayer and kicks major ass. Buffy feels a sense of loss over the life she could have had if she weren’t the Slayer, but she knows what she has to do and is still the hero. This is refreshing now in a time when television typically portrays powerful women and heroines who are ashamed of their femininity. There is nothing wrong with that, but there’s also nothing wrong with being feminine if you so choose. Put succinctly and colloquially, the running theme of the show is “you do you.”

It’s relatable to the high school and college experience.

Many of the monsters Buffy and the Scooby Gang (as she and her friends charmingly call themselves) fight are relatable to the high school and (eventually) college experience. This adds to the depth of the show, because all of the monsters on the surface are just that — monsters — and superficially, it is still good fun to watch a cute blonde girl kicking serious monster butt. However, once you look past the surface at the themes present in many of these episodes, it is really a coming of age story for this group of friends who struggle to be popular and cool while coming to terms with who they are.

It confronted issues of sexuality before most other TV shows.

Speaking of coming to terms with personal identity, it would be remiss of me to forgo mentioning the character Willow. She is a bisexual girl who realizes her identity while in college. Initially, the rest of the gang struggles with this revelation, but they are ultimately kind and accepting of Willow once the initial shock wears off. Willow’s relationship with Tara is shown shown with the same amount of openness given to the heterosexual couple Xander and Anya; both couples are shown in bedroom scenarios. Even today, many shows still struggle with depicting alternative sexualities. In that light, it is commendable that the homosexual and heterosexual relationships are treated as equals on a network television program from the late 1990’s to early 2000’s.

Did I mention it’s loaded up with non-problematic sex appeal?

Yeah, this is really shallow, but the two who stand out are both vampires (of course). If you’ve seen the show, you know I’m talking about Angel and Spike. David Boreanaz, who plays Angel in Buffy and, more recently, Booth in Bones, hasn’t aged a day. Seriously, that man must be a Time Lord or something because he was just as fine then as he is today. And James Marsters’ Spike plays just as sexy a bad boy as Angel does a tortured soul. This show represents vampires as the scary bad guys that we all know and love — none of that Twilight nonsense. They follow traditional rules of vampirism — they burn in the sun, can’t be around holy relics, die via a stake to the heart, the works. So the romantic element is tempered by the fact that Buffy (played with hella-empowered and hella-gorgeous Sarah Michelle Gellar) is fully capable of killing them at any time she chooses, placing her in the position of power, or at least them on equal footing in romantic situations.

Last but not least, the writing is excellent.

This show has a great sense of humor. The storytelling is awesome; sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it’s goofy, but it’s always good. It is very self aware, which just adds to the charm. The musical episode (Season 6, Episode 7 “Once More, With Feeling) encapsulates the attitude of the show pretty succinctly, so if you’re on the fence about watching it, this may be the episode that makes up your mind for you. It won’t make as much sense without the context of the previous six seasons, but the sense of humor combined with the difficult issues the characters have to face in their personal lives makes for truly great television.

Now what are you waiting for? Get the gang together and watch some Buffy!

Natalie Heath

Natalie Heath

Natalie Heath is an explorer, writer, and reigning champion of the Netflix marathon.

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