Thoughts on the 25th Anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

You never forget the first female TV character that inspires you to become a badass.

March 10th was the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It was more than your standard coming-of-age high school drama. The supernatural elements were an allegory for the messy and very complicated experience of being a teenager. Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has more to deal with than grades, boys, and friends. She is the Chosen One, the Slayer who has to save the world from all manners of evil that only exists in the very darkest of imaginations.

Writer and showrunner Joss Whedon (whose reputation has recently tanked due to his inability to act like a mature adult), took the allegory of growing up, added a few literal monsters, and in doing so, made the audience feel seen and understood. We related to Buffy and her friends because they were just like us. The fact that she could kick butt and had to save the world was just the cherry on top.

What made the show appealing was more than its title character. The other people who populated this world added additional flavors and colors. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) was initially introduced as an unsure young woman trying to find her place in the world. By the time series ended, Willow had come out, both as a gay woman and a witch, lost the woman she loved, and grieved in a way that was representative of how powerful that loss was. Angel (David Boreanaz), was both Buffy’s antagonist as a vampire and her first love. After they slept together for the first time, he turned into Angelus, a villain of the first order. The analogy of sleeping with someone who then becomes someone unrecognizable was all too clear. Buffy’s mother, Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland) tries to understand what her daughter is going through. Like any good parent, she is doing the best she can. But that does not mean that she is fully comprehending who Buffy has become.

The reason why BVTS has lasted a quarter of a century and continues to appeal to young people is its ordinariness. Underneath the supernatural nature of the series was the everyday experience of becoming an adult and the pitfalls of that experience.

Happy Birthday, Buffy. Here’s to another 25 years.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Joyce Summers

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

To be the parent of a teenager is not easy. Especially when your teenager is different from their peers. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland), is Buffy Summers’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) single mother. Joyce hopes that moving to Sunnydale will give both of them a fresh start. But while Buffy is caught up in her new identity as the slayer and Joyce focusing on creating a life for them, their relationship becomes strained.

When Joyce finally comes to understand who her daughter is, she is understandably shocked. She gives her daughter an ultimatum: stay home or leave. Buffy make the decision to leave her mother’s house and Sunnydale. After spending time in Los Angeles, Buffy returns home and learns the difficulties her mother faced without her.   But underneath those difficulties, Joyce has never stopped loving her daughter.

Joyce appeared for the last time in the fifth season. She has not one, but two daughters. Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) is the key placed in human form so it can be protected by Buffy. As far as anyone knows, Joyce has always had two daughters. When she tragically dies from cancer, she leaves two heartbroken daughters and a circle of characters who are grieving as much as Buffy and Dawn are.

To sum it up: Being a parent requires love, patience and understanding. Joyce Summers embodies all off these qualities, even if she is not always the perfect parent. Despite her initial misgivings and frustration about her older daughter’s abilities, Joyce never stopped loving her children. If nothing else, that is what anyone would wish to receive from their parent?


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