Buffy Turns 20 This Year; 8 Reasons Why We Love It.

Another win for our old friend Time.

Irony aside, a Buffy birthday is something to celebrate. Why? I polled a few friends of mine to ask why the show has a special place in their hearts and came up with some pretty unaminous answers… but you can’t have a blogpost that just says ‘BECAUSE IT’S REALLY GOOD‘, so let me expand.

Buffy Summers

We love to watch Buffy because she’s a multi-faceted heroine. Joss Whedon’s empathetic depiction of a female character enabled him to create a strong woman that anybody could admire. Her physical and emotional strength coexist with her interest in beauty and relationships, she can defend herself without being portrayed as a ‘bitch’ and her quips are just as loved as her looks. She’s interesting. She’s enviable. Or as mi amigo Adam put it,

‘Buffy is a kick-ass lady. And is hot.’

Big Bads: Vamps’ and Violence

Every episode delivers some fast-paced fight scenes courtesy of Mr Pointy and the Scooby gang. Vampires are textbook cool creatures: immortal, pretty and nonchalant, however they’re the arrogant enemy in a universe where ordinary humans are heroes. The Big Bads are often disguised as harmless, like ‘the trio’, who Whedon uses to highlight the threat posed by narcissistic entitlement.

Most of the fight scenes take place in the graveyard so we get a double scoop of spook, and you can often see the microphones in shot. So ’90s.

Coming of Age: The High School Setting

It’s the perfect platform for a lot of heart-wrenching character development, as my friend Bridie pointed out, and it enables us to look at the ‘cool kids’ dynamic with a fresh pair of ambivalent eyes. We follow Buffy on the familiar journey from angsty teen to reluctantly responsible adult and we watch her grow as if we’re holding a lens up to our own past.

Life Lessons

Buffy is so beloved due to its’ thematic variety. Some episodes are non-stop comedy, some are quasi-horror shows and others simply break your heart. The wisdom sieved into the making of each story arc (beyond the first Season perhaps) is Whedon’s way of sharing his own story in a way we all find accessible. He pinpointed the more discrete feelings we bury under the surface as though he was our personal psychologists, and that’s a big part of what gives Buffy meaning.

From depression to grief to unrequited love, no avenue of human pain was off limits.

LGBTQ Representation

My friend Bridie articulated it’s importance beautifully when she said ‘the relationship between Willow and Tara was the first instance of a female same-sex relationship I’d ever seen on television. I know a lot of queer women my age credit that as something that helped them feel comfortable in their own sexualities.’ Even now, onscreen lesbian love is often sexualised. Tara and Willow were so beloved because of how tender they were to each other (we’ll glide over the obvious error he made when dealing with a certain character’s treatment).

Spike

Spike isn’t really a villain because we don’t love to hate him, – we just love him. His aesthetic is based on punk rock Londoner Billy Idol and his personality reeks of a man trapped in the toxic masculinity of pretending to be tough when all you want is to feel love. We hate the things he does but only sometimes. His backstory shows us the sensitivity his current incarnation denies him and his flawed relations with Buffy are ultimately endearing.

He’s there to remind us that nobody is entirely evil/give many fans a sexual awakening.

Five By Five

Quips and puns line the mouths of each character, whether part of the Scooby gang or not. Whedon has the talent of any hugely successful writer in that all Sunnydale residents speak with alien vernacular, where phrases like ‘totally wigging‘ and ‘five by five‘ apparently make sense. Despite this, every piece of dialogue is paced to perfection so it never feels stilted or unrealistic.

Once More With Feeling

The musical episode is one of the greatest pieces of television aired to date. Importantly, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously and thus throwaway humour and cheesiness is imbued into each installment of the chosen one. The musical episode is masterful because it gives us a dose of something different while proving that experimenting with format can pay off.

The list could go on and on….

It’s camp, dated and hugely sentimental but still it stands the test of time. Buffy is the show that inspired lots of young women and made many alienated young people feel as though they weren’t alone after all.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Character Signs. Part 5!

Faith: Sagittarius

Faith is carefree, an area of Sagittarian expertise. She arrives as the badass in town: an outsider with a rebellious tendency, her outgoing personality and zealous fighting style run parallel to the righteous Buffy Summers. Buffy slays out of duty – Faith kills for kicks, it makes her ‘hungry and horny’. Slayer no.2 brings nonchalance to the game of life and death as she closes every statement with ‘five by five’… whatever that means. She doesn’t know or care, making her a unique character who willingly never fits in anywhere, just like a non-conformist Sagittarius.

Her arrival in Sunnydale is beset by her direct nature and attention-seeking tendencies as she regails stories of nude ass-kicking adventures to the Scooby gang. She’s focused on the bigger picture and therefore doesn’t desire gossipy, organised meetings with the herd. But not everybody operates with such an open manner, meaning she falls prey to the Mayor’s manipulation and Angel’s pretend pact against Buffy. She always saw Buffy as competition, even body-swapping with her in pursuit of victory, like a determined centaur. Strategy is a game this fire sign can play well due to their sharp intellect, even in their love life. Despite not necessarily existing as mutually exclusive concepts, success trumps romance in the Sagittarian mind, enabling them to play the field with a fast recuperation rate (poor Xander).

Like a true fire sign, she’s uninhibited and that’s why she’s loved. Plus, even as the Mayor’s employee, Faith is nothing if not free.


Number 5 in a 5 part series, start from the beginning to read about Buffy, Giles and the others…

Buffy Character Signs, Part 1

Music videos of my childhood in the 1990s: Bon Jovi – Always

Before we begin, please admit that you’ve mimed the chorus while doing the power ballad air-grab at some point in your life. Once you have stopped living in denial, read on.

Smoulder me good, Jon.

Possibly the quintessential portrayal of (rock) music video melodrama, ‘Always’ incorporates everything: big hair, guitar solos, explosions, long shots of city streets, infidelity, fancy dress parties, and baggy denim. Mini-movies like this take the blame for my idealised view of adult life as a hedonistic whirlwind marked by passion and really, really good-looking people. Speaking of which, we see Jon Bon Jovi at his aesthetically pleasing peak in the band close-up shots, with a hairstyle I would like to see re-appearing on the faces of more men, please and thank you.

Throw those veggies at ’em! I’m with ya.

To veer away from my shallow appreciation, the song is sentimentality in a 6 minute punch. Nowadays, hit songs rarely invoke contemplation on what it would be like to care indelibly for somebody who isn’t yourself, and definitely not to this extent: “if you told me to die for you, I would.” Dramatic declarations are too late to save the couple on screen however, as the Mick Jagger-mouthed protagonist cheats on his beautiful, fun-loving girlfriend with her flatmate in a decision nobody has ever understood. I can remember watching the video on VH1/MTV as a young whippersnapper when my brother relayed to me the thought process behind the man who stared a regrettable action in the face and said “yeah, I’ll do that!” It was basically akin to a 2 year old seeing a forbidden sweetie and grabbing it, only this was a grown man who should know better. As you can tell, I have never forgiven Jagger-mouth for his wrongdoing.

He ruined his shot at redemption when he enacted an arson attack on an unsuspecting artist who lived down the street. In what can only be described as the most glamorous one night stand of all time, a beatnik man in a black turtle neck jumper painted a portrait of the lovelorn lady while they inbibed white wine and listened to Bon Jovi, probably. Our protagonist felt entitled to rage upon this incident as he has no control of his emotional impulses, and admittedly, this fits the song perfectly. The storyline fits, entices and enthrals you… Link below!

Bon Jovi – Always