I watched Buffy on and off when it originally aired depending on whether I had the channel it was broadcast on. The show started in Spring 1997 when the Scooby gang were sophomores in high school, and I was finishing up my 7th grade year. So they were three years ahead of me and my heroes. My second watch was in 2007 when I was still in college. A lot has changed in those six years, and my newest rewatch has me filled with new observations.
What hasn’t changed is how much I adore the show. The writing is just phenomenal. The special effects and makeup design are also award worthy, particularly for nineties teenage genre shows. Joss Whedon won my heart with Buffy and rewins it every stinkin’ time I watch the first few seasons. I would join Joss’s cult. Truth.
I’m only currently about a third of the way through season three, but I’m having so many feelings that I wanted to get them out before I forget about them. The reasons I love the show have definitely altered since 2007 in really fascinating ways (at least to me). Traditionally, the first three seasons (mostly two and three) have always been my favorite so I think this is a good time to pause and reflect.
Initially, teenage Brooke loved Buffy best. She was my favorite character because she’s who I wanted to be. She managed to be a normal girl who could also save the world time and time again. Ordinary wrapped in extraordinary. Buffy faces all the normal challenges of adolescence and fails in those challenges as often as she wins. But then she would kick a vamp’s ass and be awesome.
If Buffy was who I wanted to be, Willow was who I was. She was smart, nerdy, shy, and super awkward with boys. Pretty much my own high school years in a nutshell. I felt like I was seeing a version of myself on the screen. Despite the fact that Willow didn’t have super powers, she was still amazingly gifted and managed to help Buffy out loads of times with the skills she did have.
Interestingly, adult Brooke loves Xander best. And I’m not even sure why. His wit, charm, and floundering are all endearing to me as I head out of my twenties. Xander is always the most loyal and perhaps even most moral character. He’s also the most directionless which is how most of my later twenties have felt – at least professionally. He proves that even a normal person without super inspiring ambitions can be happy, healthy, and pivotal to society. My ambitions since graduating college have definitely fallen, and now I just strive to find my own version of happiness and to help those most important to me. Everything else be damned. Xander gives me the courage to continue on this path.
Another observation that smacked me across the face is how Buffy is my Harry Potter. Seriously, so many parallels – chosen one, child saving the world from evil, trusty sidekicks, and really the list goes on and on. I’ve always been so sad that I didn’t really have HP growing up (They were published during Buffy’s time, but I didn’t read them), but now I realize I did! I hope all young people find something or someone so inspirational – it makes all the difference really.
And finally, the epic love that is Buffy and Angel is no longer my OTP. I still love them and think they have epic (although rather instant) love. But Angel (as one of my all tme favorite characters ever – but mostly in his own show) is far more interesting without Buffy making him lovesick. In season two, Angel really came into his own as Angelus. Evil Angel kicked ass. As for Buffy, I don’t really ship her with anyone she met on the show. I prefer to think she kept on kicking ass until someone equally strong and reliable came into the picture. But if that never happened, cool beans – Buffy doesn’t need a man.
So those are my current thoughts. I’m sure I’ll have more as the seasons continue and once I start Angel. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Angel/Cordelia dynamic so I’m looking forward to seeing how I react now. I think rewatching these shows on the cusp of turning thirty is kind of poignant in a very geeky way. Sentences like that make me love my life!
But mostly, thank you Joss Whedon! You helped get me through middle and high school. And you’re continuing to help me succeed into adulthood. Which is why I will see everything you produce even if nothing will ever replace BtVS as my favorite.