Friday 6 January 2012

Buffy, Je T'Adore

Who can tell if I'm using french correctly there? Not me, obviously, and I don't really care- you all see the word adore up there, so you get it, right? I LOVE BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and I don't care who knows it! I realise that, by writing about Buffy now, I basically sound like I'm about 9 years behind the times (well, 9 years behind the end of the series, really, I guess its time started way earlier than that), but when have I ever been one to keep on top with whatever is popular now? (Case in point- I reviewed about 2 books last year that were actually released last year. Yeah.) And, anyway, I already realised how great it was like 4 years ago, I just didn't have a blog way back then to tell everyone about it! Much as it got me through a rough patch that time, I turned to Buffy again when I found myself unemployed (again) in September last year, and by the end of November, I'd watched all 7 seasons. What can I say? I'm a glutton for Buffy.

Here's the thing though: I'm not really a huge fan of sci-fi, really in any form. Obviously I love Stephen King (I know, he's really horror, not sci-fi, but I think the two genres do overlap) but other than that, on the whole, I tend to stay away from the whole monster-y, supernatural-y realm (unless, say, they're using supernatural beings for social commentary, a la True Blood. That's just fine). Buffy is a completely different matter, and I think there's a very good reason for that. Joss Whedon, series creator and all round genius, said in one of the season recaps on my DVDs (yes, I watch the special features, I am a Buffy nerd) that he doesn't know anything really about science, or how any of the supernatural aspects of the show would actually work, but what he does know, is people. And really, that's something which is so evident on the show, even to the most casual observer- Buffy showcases characters that are incredibly human, sometimes even when they aren't, and relationships that remain believable and are never sugar-coated. It is the characters that make Buffy the programme it is, and that make even the most hardened sci-fi sceptics warm up to the show.

I also think that, as part of this, there is the perfect balance of action and talking in the programme, which means that you never get bored of either, and never get bogged down in either the kick-punch-kick, OR the talk of monsters and stuff. It's an incredible feat, and an incredible TV show, even if it's not wholly a perfect one. Because, and I don't think I could really talk about Buffy without mentioning these two little thorns in my side, Riley and Dawn, both major characters, are really too annoying for words. I can forgive the show partially for introducing them, because I can see what they were trying to do with each character (namely, with Dawn, teaching Buffy a greater responsibility than even saving the whole world; with Riley, bringing up the issue of whether she could be happy with just a regular, and even slightly annoying, guy [short answer: no]) but I also almost can't forgive them for Dawn's introduction especially, because she devalues everything that happened in the series before- we have to adjust our thinking to understand that, in the gang's memories, many of the things that happened also involved Dawn, which is really just too annoying for words!

Nonetheless, Buffy still manages to be awesome, and one of my favourite things about it is the way that it's completely unafraid to make fun of itself, and just generally have fun with the genre it's a part of. This can just be in the form of a vague description of something, or something like, for example, in Season 7, a time when Buffy makes A LOT of inspirational speeches, she quips, "Yesterday I gave an inspirational speech to the toaster." I love this because it makes it clear that, even while you're thinking something is a bit naff (the speeches get just a tad... oh, I don't know, boring after a while) the writers have already noticed it themselves and are fully prepared to mock it just a little bit. In other words, the writers are my (our) people!

Since, you know, I'm me, I couldn't exactly write this glowing recommendation of Buffy without talking about feminism (this is also true of my daily life, basically). But not just because I'm me, but also because Buffy is pretty much the most empowering programme in the history of TV. Here you have this tiny blonde girl, traditionally seen as weak and the easiest to kill in say horror movies and scary TV shows and EVERYTHING EVER; and yet Buffy is stronger than anyone or anything else. She's the most formidable force in the whole show, and the power part of empowering certainly applies to the show. And the strong woman thing doesn't stop with her. Willow is incredibly powerful, both because of her considerable intellect, which is so useful in the early seasons, and then as a fully fledged witch, who quite literally saves the day at the end of the series. There are so many villians that either are women (Glory, for example, who I would argue is the strongest of all the big bads) or who wouldn't be able to exist without women (Spike, in season 2 for instance, or the Mayor in season 3, whose plan hinges very strongly on Faith, another slayer). In the Buffy, then, Whedon has created a universe where women hold most, if not all, of the power and the strength. How cool is that?!

So do I watch Buffy because of its patriachy-smashing nature, and because of its deeply imbedded understanding of people? Not really- I watch it because its wholly entertaining, engaging and consistently well-written television. All the other stuff is just icing on the cake of a phenomenon that deserves to be remembered, revered, and re-affirmed every single day by Buffy-lovers just like me (note the defence of being waaaay behind the times, again). For all its vampires, monsters, Gods and nerds, Buffy is the most human of programmes, and that's when it's at its best. If you are, or were, a Buffy worshipper, then I guess you'll probably know what I'm talking about, and if not then why not?! Is there something wrong with you? Did you never get the opportunity to watch it? Whatever your answer, I wholly recommend acquiring a boxset any way you can, sitting down for about 2 weeks, and just watching the whole thing. I guarantee you'll get more than you bargained for, plus, you know, you'll make me all happy and stuff. Good enough?

While I was looking for some nice pictures to go with this post, I came across this, so I'm now considering moving to DC since this is clearly the coolest place EVER. Also on the internet: many, many Buffy tumblrs that I want to marry. Guess I'm not as behind the times as I thought! Also, the Buffy love from people who are younger than me? Heart=warmed.


  1. uuh, now i want to watch the series again - and it's your fault XD
    i loved it too - a lot. and i am totally on your side: dawn was such a nuisance. i wanted to hit her for being so annoying.
    and who doesn't love spike? a really awesome character. i loved his changes throughout the show.
    well and angel.. at first i liked him - later not so much (i think spike just kicked his butt :)
    but i liked angel again in his own spin-off show.
    now i'll stop gushing about the characters - or i won't be able to anymore ;)

  2. I love this post! I used to warn my friends not to call me on the night the Buffy was on. It's definitely a show that I will never ever get tired of watching!

  3. I hate explaining to people that Buffy the series is nothing like Buffy the movie!
    I love the characters, the plots (except the Dawn addition, like you!); I even love all the episode titles. Sure there are no great effects and stuff that the series today have, and you can almost always make out the doubles in the action scenes - but for me the plots and the originality definitely beat all the other supernatural-ey series!! And it's one vampire series, that actually gives a concrete reason why some vampires are kind of good.
    Awesome post, makes me want to watch the whole series all over again!

  4. Of COURSE that's correct French. "I you love." Only they could say it so clearly (FRENCH BURN).


    Ok, I've only made it to s2. But that's because I got distracted by Doctor Who and remain so, but BUFFYYYYYYYYYYY! It is so excellently good. And made me crush on Sarah Michelle Gellar, which is AWKWARD, but whatevs. And yeah, I used 'crush' that way. NO JUDGING IN THE BUFFY ZONE. Unless you're a vampire. Then you'll get judged. BY A STAKE.

    No more commenting right after lunch. I don't know why, but it seems like a breeding ground for bad jokes and over-excitement.

  5. @Yto- WATCH IT ALL AGAIN! Spike is totally sooooo much better than Angel, there's literally just no contest (I did like Angel at first too. But after Spike he just seems... meh.) Aaaaand I've seen the first episode of Angel, and I was not all that impressed... but I'll accept that it does get better!

    @Denise- that's so excellent! I remember watching some of the last series when it was on tv, but other than that I'm pretty much a latecomer to the Buffy! Which, I don't really mind because it's SO AWESOME, but I feel like being excited about it for like a week (every week) would have been really cool!

    @Priya-Yes. Just yes. All the things that you said. And I do especially love the whole 'if a vampire has a soul then he/she is good' thing, because it just makes so much sense!

    @Reading Rambo- Aw bless your excitement! Maybe you're eating too much sugar at lunch..? ANYWAY, BUFFY! Have you seen all of season 2 or are you just up to it? Because, Season 2, OMGGGGGG! It's literally the bestest. Much better than Doctor Who *ducks abuse*. Also yes to crushing on Sarah Michelle Gellar, but also on Willow, Giles, sometimes Xander and Angel (and later, and above all, Spike.) So yes. WATCH THE REST and then we can abuse Riley together and stuff!

  6. Picking up on Reading Rambo's comments: I've crushed on most of the major characters in the show. Spike is about five hundred more kinds of awesome than Angel. Dawn WAS annoying. Glory rocked (sidebar: anyone else think that she was the prototype behind the villain in The Emerald Atlas?). Nathan Fillion as Caleb still gives me chills. And Hush was all kinds of good tv, despite the fact that it happened in season 4, which empirically was not one of the better seasons.

    Lawd, but I do love me some Buffy. Really more than almost anything except books. And that's sayin' a lot.

  7. I have the box set and watch the entire series 2 or 3 times a year and I'm old enough to have watched it the first time round :)

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd out

  8. @Crowe- I HATE CALEB! Which, I realise, is kind of the point, and therefore he's sort of awesome. And YES! Hush is so about the only high point of season 4, possibly because Riley doesn't speak much in it, and definitely because it introduces us to Tara! (she's my favourite character in the whole show!) And, also, of course, because it's BLOODY SCARY!

    @bookdout- YAY! I definitely need to up my Buffy watching I think, because most other tv shows just don't do it for me...

  9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is one of my favorites too. Thanks for letting me relive the memory.
    Mike Draper

  10. Kindred spirits! My heart swells with joy.

    I have been known to say that I would rather live vicariously through Buffy than actually bother to live my own life. I have also been known to weep uncontrollably when Buffy and Angel do their goodbye prom dance to "Wild Horses." And when Spike starts falling for's like re-experiencing first love. It's palpable.

    But what about Anya?! She isn't the kick-assiest of the female characters, but I think she gets some of the best dialogue: "I can just hear you in private. 'I dislike that Anya. She's newly human, and strangely literal'."

    And the musical episode!!

    *Hugs Buffy box set*