Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been a cult favorite for 25-35 year olds since it made its debut on the WB on March 10, 1997. With many doubters wondering if the show could distance itself from the failed movie many tuned in and ate their words. The show takes up where the movie left off and is based on 16 year old high school student Buffy Summers who has moved to Sunnydale California after being kicked out of her previous school. The idea of a science fiction show that involves vampire slaying was at best a laughable concept but with all the other boring drivel that was being produced at that time it was a refreshing look at teen angst. Buffy is the Slayer, the one girl in all the world chosen to protect us from vampires and demons. An insane idea you might say but it looked at the trials and tribulations of a teenage girl with the added responsibility of saving the world. Buffy went through the dating scene, trying to keep her grades up, being popular, and having friends all while slaying at night and saving the world on the weekends.
The show all throughout its history has stayed on the edge of programming. Some episodes caused quite a stir bringing current social issues to the forefront as well as using many metaphors to protest the government. After the Columbine shooting in Colorado the country was still in shock that two students could change so many lives in such a violent fashion. Before Columbine the writers at BVS (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) had already completed filming an episode called Earshot in which Buffy inherits the power to read minds from a demon and overhears a student plotting to kill other students at school. After Columbine the producers and creators decided to delay the airing, originally set for April 27, 1999, of the episode out of respect for those who died. Buffy is not far from controversy and has always walked a fine line between what is fact and what is fiction.
Among its many positive forces behind it Joss Whedon the creator, director and writer of the show constantly surprised and intrigued us with his creative storylines and exceptional skills at playing make believe. He created demons, worlds and languages that can only be compared to J.R. Tolkien. In worlds where demons live with souls Joss created a piece of fiction that can only be described as genius. Joss knew that casting the lead roll of Buffy was the most important task of starting up this show. If the wrong person was brought on to star it could shift the entire direction of the show and tank. After seeing thousands of actresses he chose Emmy winning Sarah Michele Gellar who originally auditioned for the roll of Cordelia, a snotty stuck-up cheerleader. Seeing in Sarah what the rest of the world would eventually see he knew she was made for greater things and cast her as Buffy. The rest of the characters would soon be cast, Nicolas Brendan (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), and Anthony Stewart Head (Giles) the Scooby Gang as they are so affectionately called in the show were made up of mainstream unknowns who were about to make names for themselves.
After Joss had some time elapse and BVS had become a household name he began to take even more chances and made history with his silent episode called Hush. Hush involved demons called The Gentlemen and was one of the most frightening episodes that they’ve ever done. They dressed in suits and floated around the town cutting the hearts out while you slept and took your voice so you couldn’t scream hence the all silent episode. It earned an Emmy nomination but sadly did not win.
In a landmark episode called The Body, February 27, 2001Buffy and the Scooby Gang had to deal with the loss of Buffy mother Joyce Summers. Buffy comes home to find her mother lifeless body on the couch, dead from natural causes. As Buffy tries to revive her mother we come to realize that this is the one person Buffy couldn’t save with karate, stakes and magic. She lost her mother and during the entire episode we see how this affects not only Buffy but her younger sister and friends. Joss’s use of grays in lighting was what struck me the most it added to the sadness of the entire situation and seeing Buffy trying to pound on her mom’s chest and breaking her ribs trying to revive her is heartbreaking at the least.
Each character went through life changing events to have them evolve into what they were when the show ended. Buffy died, Xander left Anya at the alter, Willow battled a magic addiction and lost her true love Tara to an act of violence and Giles loved and lost. All in all each character truly came in to their own and showed us how our everyday problems in society can translate into great science fiction.
May 22, 2001 BVS airs The Gift episode 100, and their season finale. Before the show even airs magazines and news shows are flooded with rumors that Buffy was going to die and that BVS would end with a bang. The show did finally air and all the hype helped the ratings skyrocketed. Buffy did end up sacrificing her life to save the world and also ended the show’s stint on the WB. On October 2, 2001 Buffy does come back but to the UPN network and Buffy’s death was just a metaphor for the show’s departure from the WB. The debut show Bargaining has the Scooby Gang planning to bring Buffy back to life as they attempt to keep the world safe without her. Now that BVS was on UPN we found they had more wiggle room and were able to really get creative and tackle such issues as Lesbianism making Willow a regular character fall in love with another woman. Joss also had a bit of fun with a musical episode called Once More With A Feeling to which he wrote songs and wrote and produced the original score. All of the actors did their own vocals and dance routines really showing off their talents.
May 20, 2003 BVS airs its 144th and final episode in the series. Season 7 is arguably to this day the best BVS season of all time. The Chosen which ended the series was the final chapter in Buffy’s life in Sunnydale CA. Joss introduced all the potential slayers those who are young and haven’t yet learned they are the slayer and brought them together to battle the big evil, evil itself. In an epic battle of good vs. evil they banned together to fight a war. In the end Willow ends up giving each and every potential slayer in the world equal power so that no longer will the slayer need to fight alone. It was an amazing ending to an amazing series and although it is over there are still books and fanclubs that meet yearly for a BVS convention where they can talk about the good ol’ days and how Buffy changed lives. I’ve only touched upon some of the episodes in this series but truly it was groundbreaking and opened the door for many other sci-fi horror series like it and without BVS taking the chance we may not have shows like Medium and Supernatural.
Like many shows that have come and gone Buffy will remain an essential in any DVD boxed set collection. Each season is filled with excellent writing, creativity and vivid imaginations by writers who are kids at heart. Please see this show.