How I Came to Love Buffy

If you had told me in 1997 that I would one day cite Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series as my favorite show of all time, I would say you were crazy. You see I had absolutely loved the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was one of those cult movies that seeped into the vocabulary of young teens, like Valley Girl (1983), Heathers (1989), and later Clueless (1995). Just like “gag me with a spoon”, “I’ve gotta motor if I’m going to make to that funeral”, and “as if”, the Buffy movie was full of great lines like “All I want to do is graduate high school, move to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die.” That was my philosophy around age 14 when the movie came out. So in 1997, I could only view the television series as a lame attempt to cash in on the success of the movie. (Of course, I did not realize at the time that the movie had been universally panned by critics, hence its cult classic status.)

The premiere of the Buffy television series also occurred during my Sophomore year of college, and I really wasn’t watching much television in college. It wasn’t until a year after I graduated that I discovered syndicated episodes of Buffy on FX. I would come home from my crappy, first post-college job and vegetate in front of the television watching reruns while I ate my dinner. I was intrigued, but I wasn’t hooked yet.

I decided to start watching first-run episodes a few episodes into Season 4. At first I was shocked, because in the first new episode I saw Buffy had sex with some guy she just met at college. I didn’t expect such an “adult” situation. Plus, I am a little prudish (or just smart) when it comes to the issue of premarital sex. I was less shocked after seeing that episode in context with the rest of the season and series, although I am still not a big fan of gratuitous sex on television.

As I watched more and more Buffy, though, I was struck by it’s complex use of characters, plot, metaphor, and humor. In almost every episode there was something with which the viewer could sympathize. And the writing was just excellent from start to finish of the show. They also made excellent use of the show’s history and tried to incorporate a few shout outs to the movie that I fell in love with as a teen.

Is Buffy something I would necessarily allow my kids to watch? Not anytime soon. Despite being initially marketed to teens, I don’t think it was ever really a show for teens despites it’s “high school is hell” metaphor. I wonder, too, with my children being homeschooled if they will be able to relate to it the way I have. I really have enjoyed Buffy, though. Part of me is so glad that they stopped making new episodes before they jumped the shark, but part of me also misses it. I still have my DVD’s, though.

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