Why Buffy The Vampire Slayer worked, until it really didn’t

Let me tell you about my Thursday nights as a kid. Well, as a teenager. It was sort of the best night of the week. I would park myself in the dining room, for three solid hours of tv. Those hours were devoted to some of the best television I’ve ever seen.

Buffy, Angel and Charmed. 

Yes, I have been a nerd my whole life. 

The darling husband and I have been binge-watching Buffy and Angel recently, because what the hell else are we going to do? And I have to say, I can see why I loved Buffy so much as a kid. As an adult, I can also see where and why it went downhill.

Boy did it go downhill fast. 

When it was good

It’s very good. It’s a fun show for a teenage girl to watch. The characters are a lot of fun. Willow is relatable, so is Zander. I loved Giles and still do.

The show was funny, but it also had deep moments. No one was a throwaway character. People reacted when someone died. 

None of the characters were perfect. Buffy was a pain in the ass. Everyone kept secrets Ozfrom each other, everyone was selfish sometimes. Except for Oz. Oz was always perfect.

It was just a really fun show to watch every week that wasn’t preachy, stupid or overly complicated. 

I’ll grant, though, that it might be benefiting from nostalgia. Would I like it so much if I didn’t still have those fond memories of Thursday nights? I honestly don’t know. That’s one of the bad things about revisiting shows we loved in the past. We can never again see them with fresh eyes. We’ll always see them through the lens of the past, with the heart of the girl who first fell in love with them.

When it started getting bad

On the other hand, my eyes have still gotten used to modern special effects, and the ones from Buffy did not stand the test of time. The husband and I just watched an episode with a giant snake monster, and we were howling anytime the thing was on the screen. Probably not the impact they were going for. 

Sad to say, but I think most of the good writers left Buffy and went to Angel when it split off. The stories from that point on got a little less mature. They got a little more silly, a little less coherent. 

And character development changed. That was a big issue for me. Buffy continued to grow as a person, but not into a very nice person. She’s selfish and unaware of how she uses people. She doesn’t care about the emotional well being of anyone else, her problems always seem to overshadow everything else. And it’s not just when we’re talking about saving the world problems. It also includes boy troubles. Which are no more crucial than anything anyone else is going through.

I also wasn’t thrilled with many of the story arches. Some of them just seemed designed to be heartbreaking. 

Like Joyce dying. I get that the actress wanted to leave the show. I get that people lose their parents. But I don’t think that this sort of thing had a place on this kind of show. It felt out of place, too mean. 

Finally, let’s talk about the worst addition to the show.

DawnDawn.

I hated this character. I love the actress, but the character is a huge pain in the ass. She’s the scrappy doo of Buffy. I honestly can’t tell you what she adds to the show. Buffy didn’t need an annoying little sister. She didn’t need additional responsibility. 

Which isn’t to say it stopped being good then. It’s still fun, so long as we’re not having a depressing episode. And the addition of the antagonist Glory was great. 

Mind you, I’m not saying that Buffy wasn’t worth watching. I still enjoy the later seasons, right up to the last episode. It just wasn’t what it was at first. It was still a revolutionary show that opened doors for a lot of work we wouldn’t have now without it. That’s worth overlooking some flaws.

Now I want to hear what you think. Did you watch Buffy when it originally aired? What are your thoughts about it now? Let us know in the comments. 

One thought on “Why Buffy The Vampire Slayer worked, until it really didn’t

  1. I loved Buffy and Charmed but never got into Angel as much (I was a nerd too!). I adored Oz and thought that he was the perfect match for Willow. But I agree, the writing did start to go down hill, I also didn’t understand the Dawn addition, and once they went to college I think it really nose dived. I must admit, Buffy and Spike as an item was one of my favourite things, even though it didn’t make a lot of sense.

    Still, I honestly think we were lucky to be teenagers in the 90s!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s