How I Finally Wised Up to the Genius of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’

July 10, 2014

Even though I was a late bloomer when it came to appreciating Buffy, the series was well worth the wait. I didn’t watch Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it first aired. Not during the third season, nor the sixth. In fact, I was so late to the Buffy party that people were already recovering from their hangovers. Since the movie by the same name left me unimpressed and because my younger brother and stepsister were fans of the television series, I figured it was an insignificant pseudo horror show for teenagers. Time went by, and I gifted my brother Buffy calendars and a couple seasons on DVD without ever watching an episode myself. Then, in graduate school, I dated someone obsessed with movies and television. My animosity towards Buffy disturbed him deeply, and he borrowed the first season, convinced he could change my mind. I knew he was wrong. The pilot didn’t do it. The main character seemed too bubbly, and I wasn’t keen on the bumpy vampire foreheads. But I kept watching.  By the middle of the second episode, I was an addict. Over the next year, we watched the entire series.  I even bought my brother the last two seasons well before I needed to get his birthday and Christmas gifts, so we could watch them first. (That’s not tacky, right?) Why is it my favorite show to this day? Here are a few reasons:

  • The slayer. Buffy won me over. How could I not admire a girl kicking ass all night long? Vampire, demon, and monster ass, with witty repartee, to boot.
  • The relationships. The Slayer is destined to be a loner, but Buffy’s friends make her stronger. Willow with her computer aptitude and later witchcraft (until that got ugly). Xander with his big heart and handy construction skills. Giles, whose cool British exterior falls away to show a fatherly love for Buffy.
  • The deeper meaning. Supernatural issues like students turning into a pack of hyenas or Halloween costumes that change the identity of the wearer can be analyzed as metaphors for real life problems.  Or they can just be enjoyed as entertainment.
  • The musical. “Once More with Feeling” is one of the most perfect episodes. Ever.
  • The heat. Buffy and Angel. Willow and Tara. The much-awaited Buffy and Spike.
  • The humor. The obviously funny characters like Cordelia, Harmony, Andrew, and Clem. Xander and his uncanny attraction to the wrong girl. “Tabula Rasa” where lost memories lead to a mishmash of relationships.
  • The fear. Whether it’s “The Wish,” where we see the darkness and terror of a Sunnydale without Buffy or the true creepiness of the gentlemen in “Hush,” it can be hard to watch but harder to look away.
  • The pain. Angel torturing Buffy. Joyce’s death. Giles leaving. And for me, the minute I finished the last episode. The ending was beautifully poetic, but I felt like I was yanked away from my family and friends.

Luckily, I now own the box set and can revisit them whenever I want. It’s like going home. – Read more film reviews and entertainment reflections from Farley here.

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