"In each generation a Slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a chosen one. One born with the strength and skill to hunt the vampires. To stop the spread of their evil, blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it, okay."
That’s right, I have heard it. And I never get sick of it. Since its first episode on the 10th of March 1997, ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ has reigned supreme within the hearts and minds of the overlooked, the easily forgotten, the downtrodden, the disaffected, and those who just plain love fucking awesome television. ‘Buffy’ ran for seven seasons, resulting in 144 episodes. Through those seven years and beyond it spawned a spin-off series ‘Angel’ which ran for five seasons, along with comic books, colouring books, video games, college and university courses and countless 'Buffy' parties, theme nights, marathons and CosPlays around the globe - and it turned its creator Joss Whedon into a God among us mere mortals. It’s even been credited as “the most studied works by academics.”
'Buffy' was - sorry, is - more than just a TV show. One is not simply a “fan” - fans have bumper stickers and yell at a screen once a week, or occasionally speak enthusiastically about their desired subject. But 'Buffy' harboured a community, an obsession, a lifestyle and exulted it to almost religious status.
I was 13 when ‘Buffy’ finally made it to Australian television screens. Sixty minutes later, I was hooked. The week between episodes seemed a lifetime and the months between seasons was almost unbearable. Luckily it seemed the world shared my views. I spent almost all of my “hard-earned” pocket money on magazines, ‘The Watchers Guide’ books, and devoured the internet - keep in mind that these were dial-up days and the information was not was it is today. I painstakingly cut out articles and posters from whatever I could find and lovingly wallpapered my room in said articles and posters. I was surrounded by what I loved and never thought twice about it. It wasn’t until my parents started parading my bedroom to visitors to show them how mental it was that I started to think it may have been a bit much. Not to worry, those thoughts were quickly shaken off and before I knew it my collage expanded to include the ceiling. I owned shelves worth of books, bought episode scripts from eBay, saw Joss Whedon speak at the Opera House, collected crucifix necklaces, bought a 'Buffy' board game, invited friends over to play it, and after two hours declared that it made absolutely no sense and to the back of the wardrobe it went. I painstakingly recorded every episode (without commercials, a-thank-you) onto a VHS and then carefully labelled them where they took pride of place on my bookshelves ready to be pulled out, watched, rewatched, and rewatched again until I had them memorised. And why did I do all this...?
'Buffy' defies genre, with each episode comprised of comedy, drama, fantasy, coming-of-age, romance and action elements. While studio executives labelled it a mid-season replacement unable to define it, audiences were lapping it up. ‘Buffy’ and Joss’ influence on film and television is undeniable – not only is it responsible for the resurgence in Vampire stories such as ‘Twilight’ and ‘The Vampire Diaries’ but meatier teen dramas and mixed-genre television series as well. Now dramas aren’t afraid to be funny and comedies aren’t afraid to be dramatic. Within a 42-minute period, you could laugh out loud, boo a bad guy and wipe away streaming tears. Not to mention that the entire series was one giant allegory! Between the vampires, werewolves, witches and M’Fashnik, the show dealt with love, loss, sex, sexuality, bullying, growing up, fear, sacrifice, relationships with friends, family, lovers, authority - the whole enchilada, and all under the guise of a little blonde girl kicking arse in a world where everyone and everything (including herself) underestimated her.
Joss and his team also broke new television ground producing an all musical episode, an almost all-silent episode, and had critics and nay-sayers eating out of the palm of their hands with ‘The Body’ in which all previous conventions went out the window as Buffy herself and her friends dealt with the death of Buffy’s mum in one of the most spectacular episodes of television, ever. And while the show was a critical and commercial success during its run, it was never exactly a big awards show fixture (outside of its technical, hair and makeup achievements), however ironically, it was ‘Hush’, the show’s silent episode, that earned Joss Whedon a Primetime Emmy Nomination for writing. The show known for its sharp, sassy, and poppy dialogue, yes it was the ‘Buffy’ episode that featured some crudely drawn projector sheets and had the cast wearing whiteboards around there necks that lent itself to one of the show’s scariest and fan favourite villains - The Gentlemen - and of course some long overdue industry love. It’s okay, we always knew the show was golden, and Joss had the last laugh as he has since written and directed both ‘Avengers’ films and is now one of the leaders at the Marvel Cinematic Universe round table. Suck it, Emmys!
One is not simply a “fan”... 'Buffy' harboured a community, an obsession, a lifestyle and exulted it to almost religious status.
It’s funny, 20 years later and I may not be able to trivia someone under the table or recall a line at the drop of a hat any more, but just the mere mention of 'Buffy' sends a flutter to my heart. Now in my 30s, I still attend conventions if I know a 'Buffy' star is going to be there. I’ve thrown most of the books and scripts away, but I’ll always hold on to “The Watchers Guides’. My handmade VHS tapes have now been replaced by a stunning DVD collection I didn’t even hesitate to spends hundreds of dollars on. Just in the last two years I’ve attended trivia nights, comic-cons, an all-night marathon, and I have a theme night at a bar in celebration of the 20th anniversary penciled into my calendar. It’s a costume night, and while I may be too old to adorn my Faith look as I’d done many time before in my youth, I will still dig through my bottom draw and pull out my Scooby Gang t-shirt and wear it loudly and proudly.