Buffy reloaded! With all the craze over a Buffy re-boot it made me want to revisit the series. In my late teens I was obsessed with it (and Angel) and came back to it again and again over the years. Recently my husband bought me the box set and now we are going through it together and as an almost 40 year woman it’s very interesting to watch what my young self saw. Comparing that with how my older self sees things is providing an enlightening experience.
On A Personal Note
Buffy impacted me as an aspiring writer, a nerdy teenage girl, and someone fighting to find my place in the world. I saw myself through Buffy’s eyes and felt her pain over and over. I related to the angst and suffered the same base emotions she was feeling. Even if I wasn’t saving the world or fighting evil, it sure as hell felt that way at times. I felt her torment over heartbreak, her struggle to find her place in the world, and her constant fight against the odds.
Joss Whedon finally gave us young girls that didn’t connect to Clarissa or any of the 90210 icons someone to identify with. She wasn’t a victim, but she didn’t have all the answers either. It wasn’t about happy endings, it was about dealing. I finally felt represented. I felt like I had a voice and I wasn’t alone.
Watching now reignites all of those feelings with a lot less confusion. Now I’m able to embrace so much of it, and sometimes just wish I could go back and hug my teenage self.
The first three seasons are really the best as far as an ensemble cast is concerned. The trio of Buffy, Willow, and Xander with Giles as the surrogate father is the nucleus of Buffy. From season 1-7 they all remain the heart. No matter the conflict between them all, or the love interests or when they drifted amiss, it still always came back to all of them. And anyone who joined “The Gang” in later seasons always felt that bond that was simply theirs.
As a teen I had what many other girls my age had: a super massive crush on Angel. I was all for the brooding tortured soul guy. I also appreciate Angel a lot more on his own show. There his character is able to develop and we see more of Boreanaz’s charisma and humor. But on Buffy, he’s a lot more stagnant and one dimensional. Even so, on both of their shows he still feels like her one true love. That may be writing or that just might be the chemistry between Gellar and Boreanaz. I say it’s both.
But here comes Spike. Spike is simply one of the best written and acted characters ever in the genre. It doesn’t matter if it’s stone cold killer or comic relief James Marsters just delivers. This was the role he was born to play. His evolution and his redemption arc is one of the greatest payoffs of all 7 seasons. Watching my husband see Spike change from the “Big Bad” to eventual hero and champion is so far one of my greatest pleasures experiencing this re-watch. When we reach the end of season 7 I’m probably going to be watching his face instead of the screen. Who ever thought Spike could become the greatest beacon for hope and for change?
Character’s I Hated
I always loathed the addition of “Dawn” even though now I “see” why she’s really there. At the time I thought it was purely an attempt to stay connected with an adolescent audience since the rest of us were growing up with Buffy. I never liked Riley either. He was an import of convenience and his eventual end with Buffy seemed only natural. I still want to throw rocks at the TV every time I see Veruca. My steadfast loyalty to Willow remains constant. Warren is an obvious choice. Kathy was tremendously annoying though was supposed to be. Buffy’s stupid creep ex Scott. Harmony is another obvious choice, though I did like her as an addition to Angel. Parker still remains on the top of my list for similar reasons to Veruca. PARKER BAD! Kennedy to no fault of her own. There was just too much “try hard” to make her cool. Which is weird since one of the great things about Whedon’s characters being cool is they aren’t trying to be.
Joss Whedon is never afraid to kill off a main or dear character and has had his share over the seasons, but on Buffy the sense of loss and loneliness is easily the main theme. Sometimes loss doesn’t mean life. With Buffy you see it as parts of her, at one point even her own humanity.
Spike, The Master, Drusilla, Glory, The Mayor, Angelus, The Judge, Mr. Trick, Faith, The Trio, Caleb, The First, Uber Vamps, Evil Willow, Ethan Rayne, and The Gentlemen. There’s more. Take your pick. Whether they were good, bad, or just a ton of fun, Buffy had some of the best villains any TV or Movie series has ever had. Pick any of those and you have a pretty good chance of any of them walking the line of good/evil pretty closely. That dichotomy always kept things interesting.
It’s Still So Good
Even though it’s a trip down 90’s lane, it still remains relevant. Cringing over some of the clothing I thought was so cool, and embracing all of the bands that frequented the “Bronze” is maximized nostalgia. Even now it’s the characters that make Buffy worthwhile. Joss’s ability to convey the haunts of teen life, being an outcast, and that familiar tune of loneliness won’t change with different decades. It will always be significant and it will be there like a blanket of comfort for anyone that ever needs it.
I’m still thankful to Joss for giving me a female heroine that was strong, flawed, but never stopped fighting the good fight. Even in moments of her greatest loss or defeat Buffy still wouldn’t give up.
“Strong is fighting! It’s hard, and it’s painful, and it’s every day. It’s what we have to do.”
So I’m weirded out by the idea of a reboot, because even in spite of some of the missteps (I still hate everything about “The Initiative”) of the show the message was always the same and the story was told. What else is there to learn or say? The finale is one of the best finales of a show ever and has never failed to not gut check my tear ducts each watching. It’s hard to not get excited about an expanded universe, especially with Joss involved, but I guess we don’t have to wait too long!
P.S. What’s the deal with you and snakes Joss?