A Look Back: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

 

In each generation a slayer is born. One girl in all the world, the chosen one, with the strength and skill to hunt the vampire.

You’re in the Hellmouth now. Come on down, the water is warm. Wait. What water?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, cancelled from the WB in 2003, reached t.v. cult status, gathering millions of fans and creating series spin offs, video games and merchandising. Despite airing back when cell phones still had pull out antennas, the show remains smart and funny, with snappy dialogue and good FX. If you have a daughter, make some popcorn and turn on Netflix. The show is full of strong, empowering messages for angst ridden teenagers. Especially female teenagers.

Buffy has it all: she’s gorgeous, in killer shape, and can spot a bad guy and kick his teeth out before you can say, “That library gives me the wiggins.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer is entertaining, but has a feminist message. There are college classes still taught in psychology, sociology and women’s studies that use the series as an academic teaching tool. While getting a PhD in Buffy Studies may not help you find a job, it would definitely school you in the fine art of strong women, who suffer loss and heartbreak, but still manage to save the world.

As if Buffy as a character wasn’t enough, there’s the Scooby Gang. Originally including a librarian as supernatural supervisor and two low-caste high school kids, Willow and Xander, the group was joined over the years by other intriguing characters who excelled in the art of monster-whomping. Willow and Xander suffer through the changes growing up brings, while supporting Buffy in her quest to kill vampires and other assorted demonic bad guys. Over the years the Scooby Gang reminded us that the coolest kids in high school aren’t necessarily the most popular, a lesson every thirteen year old should hear. For adults this show may be a guilty pleasure, fun to watch, but with a redeeming social message. If you named your first born Xander, then you already know what I’m talking about.

This gang of underdogs battled some of the same real-life issues that haunt high school. Over the years we watched them graduate, lose their virginity and get jobs. Just like your life, but with better dialogue. Oh, and blood sucking monsters. The one constant in Buffy is the endless parade of monsters, including vampires. Lots of vampires. While these vampires look appealing at first, they’re inhabited by demons that morph out when stressed, just like teenage acne. What do we do with acne? We kill it. ASAP.

This series always ends on a high note, despite death and loves lost. True to form, the show finally ended with the monsters vanquished and Hellmouth closed. Buffy, so haunted by her supernatural inheritance, is finally free to live a full, battle-free life. The ending messages of the series ring with the power of love and perseverance against hardship. Well played, Buff, well played.