OK, I’ll admit it: growing up I was a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the 1992 Kristy Swanson film). I think I rented it from the local video store at least once a month for several years (along with Pet Cemetery 2 and Encino Man—-hey, don’t judge me). I’m not sure what about this film resonated with a farm girl from Iowa, but I couldn’t get enough of it. Perhaps I was just a fan of early Ben Affleck. Who knows? Whatever the case, I watched the hell out of that movie.
So, with as much as I loved the film, it’s fairly surprising that I never watched the Joss Whedon TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Well, not until recently that is. Sure, I knew about it. I had friends who obsessed over that show. Heck, I even caught a clip or two here and there, but I had never seen an entire episode of the show before Netflix. Weird, huh? How was it possible for a geek to go through the 90s and early 2000s with no Buffy, no Xander, or no Willow? I guess I’m just lucky I made it through those decades without seeing vampires being bested by martial arts.
I actually feel rather silly providing a synopsis for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In part this is because I’m sure just about everyone knows what it’s about; but also, it’s one of those shows that just sound silly when you put it into words, not matter how cool you try to make it seem. Challenge accepted!
Buffy is just your normal, spoiled Valley Girl who learns in the 1992 movie that she is the “chosen one”–the one person in a generation who is born to fight vampires (later in the TV show, we learn there is actually more than one “Chosen One” born in a generation… and that this person fights anything evil, not just vampires, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it). In the TV series, Buffy apparently has to undergo plastic surgery to alter her appearance (from Kristy Swanson to Sarah Michelle Gellar) and relocate to Sunnydale, the location of the Hell Mouth and location for all types of effed up evil activity. Not only is she the slayer, destined to save the world from destruction on almost a seasonal basis (hmmm), but Buffy also has to go to high school (bummer). There she meets Xander, Willow, and Giles—all of whom team up to help Buffy kick some ass…. well, mostly they research while Buffy does all the physical activity. Later (in season 4) Buffy and Company move on to the “real world”: college and work all while still fighting those damn evil-doers.
When considering the seasons as a whole, I liked seasons 1 through 3 the best. Here, the gang had to navigate the difficult waters of high school and kill the undead. However, season 4 was a little strange to me. Perhaps I couldn’t adjust to seeing Willow and Buffy in college, maybe the main villain seemed “meh,” or it might have been that Buffy’s new boyfriend was incredibly dull. Whatever it was, season 4 was my least favorite. Not to worry, though, things pick back up seasons 5 through 7. Phew!
While watching Buffy, I could not get over how they dressed in the show. I became confused why most of the main characters insisted on wearing clothes typically found on 40-year-old soccer moms. Normally, I wouldn’t focus on this, but the Buffy from the film was super fashion-conscious and would probably barf if she saw some of those outfits.
Also, vampires and demons in the 90s are a lot different than they are today. Consider:
In the 1990s vampires/demons relied heavily on martial arts to take down their prey. While they supposedly still had super strength and speed, many tended to bounce around, waiting for Buffy to approach, then throw a poorly aimed punch. Today, according to the latest season of True Blood, vampires have moved on to missile launchers.
The vampire from over a decade ago weren’t quite as sexy as their counterparts today. Their faces got all wrinkly and their eyes turn dog piss yellow when they are angry or fighting. They also seemed to favor the grunge look then. Twilight, however, would beg to differ. From watching that series, one would infer that in today’s society, we like our vamps to be pasty and delicate (and sparkly!!).
All kidding aside, there are some really innovative episodes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course, most people would refer to “Once More with Feeling” (a musical episode) as one of the most unique of the series. And while I agree (and, not to mention I really like that episode), there are quite a few others which are inventive as well. For example, in one episode, the entire town loses their ability to speak—causing the majority of the show to have zero dialogue. Now that’s ballsy. It also worked really well.
Overall, I really enjoyed most of the main characters. Yes, Buffy is annoying after a few seasons and doesn’t grow much as a person, but the show addresses this on several occasions which somehow makes it OK in my book. I appreciate that they added (most) of the new characters to their evil-fighting gang because it added more depth and greater options for various story arcs. Sure, it’s a bit convenient that the majority of said group survives regardless of all the crap that is thrown at them. And yeah, I’m a little bitter that they ended up killing off two of my favorite characters, but I’ll deal (barely).
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV series) is fun and worth checking out if you have time. I found myself caught up in the series, watching an episode or two each day. It’s even been rumored that I had my own personal Buffy-a-thon one Saturday when my husband went sailing for eleven hours with his friends. I had weird dreams that night, let me tell you.
Thanks for reading and have a glorificus day!
Netflix Watch Instantly Queue: 156