Sixteen years after the first season aired, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still a oft heard topic of discussion whether due to a feminist lens or Joss Whedon being the old it guy that is the new it guy in Hollywood with the commercial success of The Avengers. Whether it is a new generation of young people finding this series, or people that never paid attention to it before and are now finding it through The Avengers connection, fresh eyes are discovering the Buffyverse and all its wonder.
“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping. Waiting. And though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir. Open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us, guides us. Passion rules us all and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love, the clarity of hatred, and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow, empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.” –Angelus
There are a few things newbies need to understand about wading into this series which spanned 1997 to 2003 when life on this planet went from dial up to a global world wide web community, before everyone had cell phones, as hip hop went from a fading Fresh Prince era to 50 Cent, and the waistline of clothing dropped a foot and caused a widespread Crack problem.
Buffy: “Does it ever get easy?”
Giles: “You mean life?”
Buffy: “Yeah. Does it get easy?”
Giles: “What do you want me to say?”
Buffy: “Lie to me.”
Giles: “Yes, it’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.”
The First Season needs specific introduction:
- What if the little blonde girl in horror movies that wandered down the dark alley…was really the most dangerous thing in that dark alley?
- It was shot in a grainy dark cinematography, as is Season 2, intentionally, to give it that old creepy horror feel.
- The clothing dates it. Hey, 16 years, it happens.
- The budget was next to nothing for this show. This made a tight focus on the writing a big huge deal, and we are better off for it, but the sets are often recycled and the monsters are totally cheesy, and they knew it when they were filming it, rolled with it, and went for the campy aspect. Do not mistake the low budget and campy feel for low quality television. It’s a smart show with layers. There have been university classes on this series. Grad students write their thesis on this series. BTVS has some of the best writing on TV, ever, and many of the shows that you the viewing public have watched in the last decade and are watching today are influenced by it, or in fact may have a former Buffy writer on its team whether in writing or production. Jane Espensons’ Twitter states: “If you ship it, I might just have written it.”
- The dialogue reflects Joss Whedon’s unique way of speaking. The show did not set out to create a Buffyverse language or slang, but that is what happened. Everyone and their brother in film making has tried to duplicate the quicksilver banter and throwaway dialogue, the Gilmore Girls were the most glaring, and annoying, offenders. People have written books about “Buffyspeak” and linguistics.
“Love makes you do the wacky.”
“What’s the sitch?’
“Can you vague that up for me?”
“There’s gotta be a reason why the chip is going all wonky.”
To the series as a whole:
6. High School is Hell.
7. Young women have power, they just do not realize it. Yet.
Angelus- “No weapons. No friends. No hope. Take that all away, what’s left?”
8. The most safe, unassuming, boring things are the most dangerous.
9. There are MANY continuity issues (especially in the first few seasons).
10. We must remember that this show began in the day of viewing a tv episode once or maybe twice a year, before we had giant flat screens and expected to watch TV shows over and over again on a high def screen or marathon seasons on DVD or Netflix. Thus, stunt doubles are easily discernible, and many of the small continuity issues become glaringly obvious.
11. The big reveals, important emotion, and even foreshadowing sometimes comes in small, comic, and what seems to be throw away moments. Pay attention.
12. An important lesson from Buffy: Knowledge is power. Knowledge and preparation comes from reading-from literary reference in the dialogue, to stopping the big bad required research. Dynamic action required, but knowledge is a power all its own.
When I was thinking of adding screencaps or photos for this blog, much of what came up in a Google search was reference to Twilight and how Buffy would hate Edward and stake the Cullens’ and such. No matter how horribly conceived and illogical the Twlightverse vampire canon is, oh, you silly, silly people. You obviously have never watched Buffy. Buffy would so not slay the Cullens’, no matter how annoyingly they sparkled. Are you kidding? Buffy would recruit them.
Try playing Six Degrees of Separation between BTVS and the spinoff, Angel, and any American TV Series or American movie made between 1997 and today. Mind blown much?