Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gone But Not Forgotten: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

This is the first of what I hope to be a series of posts in honour of those great television programs that are no longer in production. It's my hope that after reading my insightful interpretations you will be inspired to run to your local DVD (or possibly Blueray if you're fancy) retailer and purchase these forgotten gems.

The first subject for interrogation is, of course, Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Contrary to what I may have said above I don't think my ideas will be inspired enough to justice to this amazing program. Therefore I have invited a friend of mine to help sway your opinions. Tidlewine (check her out at TV of The Week) will do a much better job of engaging your emotions then me (I'm pretty sure I don't actually have any, emotions that is).

Anyway read on and enjoy...

First things first: Why begin with Buffy?

I'm bias, really I am but Buffy was my favourite television program when I was growing up and when it ended a little bit of my soul died with it. I know it wasn't cancelled, but cancellation isn't a prerequisite for this kind of post. It's no longer being made, a fact that upsets me even as I type thing (it doesn't hurt as bad as Firefly, but we won't discuss that yet) which means it counts.

I don't think it should ever be forgotten, and this is my little attempt to make it last forever.

The reason I wanted to write this blog is because I realised that there is a generation growing up in a world without Buffy and that is a world I don't even want to try to comprehend.

So without further ado, please allow my friend Tidlewine to prove my point for me...

When I first began watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I was a na├»ve teen stuck in a small town with an unhealthy addiction to television. Buffy did nothing to help lessen this obsession. The show was, and continues to be, one of my favourite television programs, and there are a lot of factors about this particular show that could explain why it’s made such a lasting impact on me. As a 15 year-old sitting cross-legged in front of her television every Tuesday night, it would have made sense to cling to what Buffy Summers represented – a strong, brave, kick-ass role model in girl form. There wasn’t a lot of that on TV back then, and Buffy was definitely influential on all the future Sydney Bristows, Max Guevaras, and Starbucks of the world. You can’t really ask for more when you’re a teenage girl with no discernible super powers yourself. But that’s not why I fell in love with Buffy.

I could have loved the show because it had epic romances: star-crossed lovers who could never be together, vampires fighting to get their souls back for the woman they love, two witches unafraid to love one another with their entire beings. But that’s not why I love Buffy so much.

I could have loved the swoon worthy men (even Giles had a little something going on), the witty one-liners, the sometimes terrifying monsters (The Gentleman anyone?), or the bad-ass big bads, but none of those reasons is why I truly love Buffy.

I could have loved the great risks Joss Whedon took, and the way those risks always kept me glued to my TV, begging for more. Transforming Angel into Angelus? Heartbreaking. Bringing in a full-grown sister five seasons in to the series? Blew my mind. A completely silent episode? Unheard of (did you see what I did there?) A musical episode, with completely original songs? I think my head just exploded out of happiness. All of these moments could easily explain why I love Buffy so much. But they are not why.

Everything I’ve mentioned plays a part, sure, but in the end the one thing that keeps bringing me back to a show that’s been over for almost a decade is much simpler: it’s real. No, there are no such things as vampires, or mayors who turn into giant snakes, or vengeance demons (although maybe there should be). Take away the supernatural creatures and the magical spells, and at its core Buffy was a show that addressed very real feelings. I may not have been a “chosen one” but I definitely knew how it felt to feel different, or alone, or misunderstood. What teenager doesn’t feel that way? And watching Buffy, Willow and Xander cope with those same emotions helped me feel less isolated. Throughout the whole series, these characters dealt with some pretty heavy stuff, but they were still able to laugh (or at the least, make us laugh), and most importantly they were able to make it through. They beat the odds, and sometimes they suffered, and sometimes there were casualties (RIP Tara and Anya, we miss you), but overall, they survived. And that gave, and continues to give, me hope.

What Joss Whedon did so wonderfully was create a world where no matter how crazy or unbelievable things seemed to be, there was a firm foundation of realism. It’s because of this that it is still incredibly difficult for me to watch an episode like “The Body.” Why “Innocence” still makes me feel insecure and why the final scene in “Empty Places” fills with me anger and betrayal. Life is not easy, and there are going to be horrible moments and happy moments, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer showed me that to survive you didn’t need superpowers – you just needed friends, family, and the ability to love.

Sorry I can't seem to be able to type through the tears that are streaming onto my keyboard. I could not have said it better myself... literally. Which is why I didn't. Don't worry I am going to stop, now – mainly because I really need to watch me some Buffy.

I am not even going to give you the option this time – you must do as we tell you or bad things may happen in your life, at some stage, in the future... or not.