So, as some of you lovely people know, on March 10, 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on the then-fledgling network, the WB. Since then, it’s been a part of pop culture consciousness, helping pave the way for serial television with a story to tell (others did it before, but Buffy did it well!), as well as shaping the life of your humble blogger.
I was 13 when Buffy premiered, close in age to the heroine herself, and as such, I grew up with the show just as surely as I did with my family and friends.
First, Buffy entertained me, and then it taught me.
I’m not gonna say that the themes and subtexts I find in the show now I found then, because that’s a bold-faced lie, but they simmered there, beneath the surface, and the structure of the show made it so that as I grew, my understanding grew, so much so that now Buffy is as much my narrative as it is Whedon’s.
That sounds a bit presumptuous, I know, but when I say Buffy belongs to me, I mean that Buffy’s story is the story of my life, albeit without supernatural elements.
Buffy and I share common threads: we’re both children of divorced parents, we both had a really small circle of close friends, we react to things similarly, we had disastrous first relationships (and a really shitty other relationship), we don’t fit into a cookie-cutter mold, we made our own families.
But the great thing about Buffy is that it’s not the story of just one person. Sure, there’s only one name in the title, but the story isn’t just about her. The diversity of stories in Buffy means that its themes are as universal as it gets. There’s something for everyone, despite silly people calling it a “teen show.” There’s nothing wrong with teen shows (well, not all teen shows), but it’s a very limiting way of describing Buffy, and inaccurate, besides.
Buffy grows up during the series. Her problems get more complex (as the baddies get simpler—go figure), and her worldview changes. This show isn’t just about kicking ass, it’s about becoming.
And that’s why I love this show, and why I will always love this show. Buffy is funny, smart, cheesy, ridiculous, strong, painful, and necessary. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy birthday, Buffy.
Many happy returns.