When Buffy the Vampire Slayer first aired in 1997, I was four years old, so I was maybe just a tad young for it. I do remember the first time I ever watched it; I was around eight years old and didn’t really know what it was about, but it sounded cool. I watched for about five minutes, then switched it off, thinking something along the lines of “nope-nope-nope-nope-nope”. Literally just as I wrote that sentence I made a connection in my head. Until I was, if I’m honet, about 15, I slept with my duvet pulled right up over my neck and with my hair down. I remember thinking that it would somehow protect me from vampires, as maybe if they couldn’t see my neck they wouldn’t think to bite it; clearly, my childhood logic wasn’t the best. Considering I never had any major exposure to vampires as a child, I always thought that this was just a precaution I had randomly decided to take, like when I started building houses for woodlice after I saw one dead in my Nan’s sink. After remembering that very brief foray into the Buffyverse, I’m realising that perhaps I got it wrong, and it wasn’t random.
So, my first time watching Buffy didn’t go brilliantly, leaving me with a low-key fear of vampires that lasted for several years. I eventually returned to Buffy in the last quarter of 2016. A guy I was dating it expressed horror that I had never seen it, and it had been floating around the back of my head for a while as something I wanted to watch, so I said what the hell and decided to watch the lot. I dumped the guy but entered into a committed relationship with Buffy.
I had just moved back to Manchester and was sans the internet for a month, depending on the free WiFi on the tram to work for my Instagram and Twitter kicks once I ran out of data. Luckily, I had all of Buffy saved on my laptop, and thus the marathon began. Buffy episodes are fairly hefty, running at forty to fifty minutes an episode, but with nothing else to do, I was watching at least two episodes a night. I worked my way through all seven seasons and finally finished it in January, and I may have cried a tiny bit.
I will admit that the first episode didn’t exactly draw me in. I continued watching more because I didn’t have anything better to do, but by episode three I was hooked. The use of supernatural elements to talk about parental abuse, school stress and internal conflict told me a lot about where the show would go, and it didn’t stray far from those early themes. I was already familiar with the “monster of the week” format, but I loved that it had an overarching grand plot for the whole series, which kept me coming back to find out how it would be resolved.
While the plot was fun, the characters were what really did it for me. I do tend become invested in characters very quickly, and my favourites were Willow, Buffy, Giles and Cordelia. I’ll probably anger a fair few die-hard Buffy fans, but I am not a fan of Xander, Angel or Spike, though I have a serious soft spot for Oz. Buffy is strong but conflicted, Willow is like an amplified version of myself (way less confident, way nerdier, way more anger issues and way gayer) but I definitely saw myself in her. I adore Anthony Head, and Giles is clearly the best character. He genuinely cares about Buffy, and is the guiding hand for the first few seasons. I have mad respect for Cordelia; she’s a stone cold bitch but she knows it, and she actually works damn hard. She never pretends to like anyone, instead saying exactly what she thinks and feels, regardless of how it makes others feel. Cordelia looks out for herself. Oz doesn’t appear until Season Two, but I loved him from his first appearance. He’s taciturn but sweet, a little nerdy and he plays in a band. He’s also incredibly respectful towards Willow and never pushes her to be something she isn’t; he just loves her the way he is. Sure, he screws up, but the circumstances were fairly exceptional. As for Xander, he’s the whiny, creepy “nice guy” that so many of us are familiar with; Angel is just plain creepy to me, and Spike is so messed up that he’s completely fixated on whoever he’s into to a terrifying extent.
Some of the baddies were genuinely scary, with The Gentlemen, Gnarl and Der Kindestod springing to mind. The worst, though, were the ones who were just plain old humans. Often they were warped by circumstance or a supernatural element, but the very deliberate human motivation for their actions was always what scared me. You might not have nightmares about them, but they’re the ones you remember when that guy on the tram won’t stop breathing down your neck, when your ex won’t leave you alone or when you’re walking home at night.
I could pick out several favourite episodes, but overall Seasons Three (I cried at Graduation Day) and Five were my favourites. While Dawn was a bit of a wet blanket, I was SO confused by her existence for a good while, and the events with Joyce actually broke me.
I was recently introduced to TVTropes by my boyfriend and have since spent an inordinate amount of time reading about my favourite TV shows and films, Buffy included. Buffy was actually the show that inspired the website originally, so it’s safe to say that there’s a fair amount of content, but do beware spoilers as I accidentally ruined the end of Season Seven for myself. I recommend the Fridge, Trivia and Headscratcher tabs in particular.
I don’t know if I can be bothered to watch Angel, as I understand it’s quite different in tone, and I don’t really like Angel himself. I’m also not touching the comics as I read a brief summary of them and they sound utterly ridiculous and not in a good way.
Let me know if you think I should watch Angel, or if you disagree with me about any of the characters!