Flashback Fridays: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The opening narration of Joss Whedon's "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" still brings chills down my spine: “Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.” Even having seen every season 5 plus times, the show evokes a sense of nostalgia of the late 90's and early 2000's.
A cure-all solution to this feeling of reminiscing on what once was, is to binge-watch this gem; a feat made easier since Netflix revived this 90’s cult classic just a year ago to the satisfaction of many fans.
"Buffy The Vampire Slayer" had tremendous success considering the low expectations the movie set back in 1992. The movie came out in a year where the CGI was lacking, even when compared to the show five years later. Not to mention the movie has a more comedic approach, so it’s hard to compare the two.
The movie garnered negative attention from critics and the thought that the show would become an influential TV drama was laughable. Whedon wrote the movie, but you get a sense that he didn’t have full control, and by the time the TV adaptation came along you forget the two were ever connected. With the original title still attached, the show came about in 1997 and proved naysayers wrong.
"Buffy The Vampire Slayer" was definitely the archetypal vampire/supernatural show for generations to come. The relationship between Buffy and Angel in seasons 1 and 2, represented the struggle between a human and a supernatural. The human falls in love with the vampire, but becomes naive about the bloodlust of a vampire despite the heady feelings. Years later and now many shows about vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural phenomena have shown relationships like this in a similar way (i.e. "Twilight," "Vampire Diaries," etc.).
The show took place in fictional Sunnydale, the exterior of the high school being the not-so-distant Torrance High School, and Buffy's home is a few blocks north. Spooky enough, the cemetery that created nightmares for the inhabitants of Sunnydale (Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery) is right across from where I went to high school; the show also featured a makeshift cemetery in Santa Monica.
The fictional city was on top of a "Hellmouth" that invited all kinds of mystical forces and eerie dwellings. This created an atmosphere of high school as a horror movie.
Though, the series continued for 7 seasons, following the characters into their college/adult years, there was no shortage of uncanny characters surfacing around Sunnydale, from vampires, demons, werewolves, gods, witches, soothsayers, invisible people, and possessed puppets.
While "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" set the tone for other television dramas, it didn’t come without influences of its own. Whedon drew from shows like "The X-Files" for its storytelling, and some of the seasons shared very similar plot lines to those of some Marvel comics. That should be no surprise as Whedon began writing for comics as well as their live-action adaptations.
"Buffy The Vampire Slayer" was definitely Whedon's first major directorial success. He went on to write and direct for many other successful projects including Marvel's "Avengers" and "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," along with some that were less popular but received their own ravenous cult followings like the quirky outer space-themed "Firefly," "Dollhouse," and the Buffy spin-off series, "Angel."
No one was wondering what happened to Angel when he ventured to Los Angeles. David Boreanaz (Angel) and Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia) were better off finishing out the Buffy saga, or better yet just disappearing altogether. Carpenter as more than a mean-spirited, popular cheerleader leaves more to be desired. We’ll forgive Whedon for that questionable series.
Whedon presented refreshing themes in the Buffy series, most notably those of a "girl power" notion, revealing strong female characters. If you notice, most superpowers and even "Big Bads" encountered are women. Meanwhile, most of the men in the series are merely seen as support in the form of friends, boyfriends, and crime fighting sidekicks.
Playing Buffy was an iconic role for Sarah Michelle Gellar. Previously she was seen running away from trouble in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "Scream 2," but Buffy gave her the platform to be seen as a kick-ass hero, an alpha female.
Besides the obvious feminist themes, the show makes you feel like you want to attend Sunnydale High. Like you want to go to school with Buffy, Willow, and Xander, and hang out at the Bronze. The scooby gang has an unbreakable bond that makes you just want to be a part of it and slay vampires and battle the forces of evil.
Hopefully Whedon will follow up with more epic dramas, but "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" will always remain the generational standard of its time. Even though the show has been officially off the air for ten years, the series still lives on through re-runs and is available for streaming through Netflix. There is also a comic series that expanded the "Buffyverse" that may or may not contradict the continuity of the show's series.