If you know ANYTHING about me, it’s that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been my biggest love since I was four years old. Today, it turns twenty.
While I was barely even a month old when it first aired twenty years ago on March 10th 1997, I am so proud to have been alive at a time when this show was around. My cousin, Ellie, was the biggest fan, & it wasn’t long till I was watching episodes with her – the very first one I saw was season five’s premiere “Buffy VS Dracula”. Somehow my Mum decided it was a good idea to start watching the show from the beginning with her then tiny daughters, but I think we’re all pretty okay that it was the best decision.
We used to rush home from school every day & see how many episodes we could fit in from the VHS boxsets on loan from Ellie, & laugh & cry watching Buffy & her friends save the world (a lot). We made visits to London to visit our cousin whilst she was at university obviously to see her, but also to get the next season from her – I distinctly remember when we first received season four, which was a DVD boxset. I was completely floored by the fact that we were up to date with the show enough for it to be on DVD. Whilst I was born at the tail end of the nineties, you have to remember that my family never had loads of cash when I was growing up, so we didn’t really have the funding to catch up with the times of DVD’s etc until like, 2002.
We weren’t quiet about our Buffy obsession either. At school I used to rope my friends into playing Buffy with me (of course I was always Buffy herself); at home my sister & I used to play “the vampire game” which involved us pretending to run into open doors & not be able to pass through them because we were vampires who hadn’t been invited; & we actually even threw a Buffy themed Halloween party for our school friends & made them all come dressed as characters despite them not even watching the show. My Mum went as Fiesta Giles & it was great.
Here’s me as Faith fighting my next door neighbour as Spike:
Here’s my two best friends as Xander & Anya with my cousin as Drusilla:
And here’s my sister & her best friend as Tara & Kendra
(sorry for the low quality photos, these are from an old album on the family computer that’s like twelve years old)
In 2006 when we went to Madame Tussauds for the first time, we were ECSTATIC to “meet” their Sarah Michelle Gellar. My little sister even straight up refused to have her photo taken with any other figure, only wanting Buffy.
Even now, you can tell we’re all still huge fans. I have books lining my shelves, official guides & non-canon books, comics & graphic novels & a plushie stake resting on top. I have stickers on my laptop & Sunnyvale varsity jackets in my wardrobe; & the pride & joy of our living room is our figurines cabinet that we’re proud to say hosts everyone from Buffy to Vampire Willow to Spike in his Hawaiian shirt.
We also actually have a framed photo of Rupert Giles on our windowsill. I wish I was joking. My sister, cousin & I all wear claddagh rings daily too. We really aren’t casual fans – hell, I met my boyfriend dressed as Buffy at a costume party.
Buffy is a huge part of my life. I don’t even have to think about it, it’s just all kind of ingrained in my brain. The other day I was talking with my Mum about someone in season four of Buffy, & when she asked me to remind her what season four was I was so thrown – season four is season four. I don’t even need to think about it. Once, when I was seven, someone went on the show Mastermind with their specialist topic as Buffy, & I beat her score. Buffy is just my specialist topic in life.
I think what has made Buffy stand the test of time is the writing. Yes, it was a show about a girl who played monsters, but it was also about her growing up, dealing with heartbreak & loss & college & adulthood. Their monster of the week was a metaphor for online dating, or domestic abuse or even having a new stepfather – & all way ahead of it’s time. The whole premise of the show was to expand on the ‘high school is hell’ idea & make it something that could actually help. The fact that it was then able to carry on into just a general ‘life is hell’ was just a big plus.
These were all brought to life by the most amazing writing team, who had the most amazing talent of being able to create the perfect blend of seriousness, excitement, wit & light heartedness. Buffy language became a thing that so many other writers tried to replicate, & I was still learning to talk properly at that stage so a lot of my dialogue is inspired by it too I guess.
It has some of the most powerful episodes from any show to ever air on television; one almost entirely lacking speech; one in full on musical numbers & one without any music at all. Buffy revolutionised television, made bold moves that nothing had ever done before.
It was the first show to feature lesbian’s in a loving relationship kiss, the first even to use the term “google it”. It paved the way for so much. Are you a fan of The Vampire Diares, True Blood, Twilight, Teen Wolf or even Pretty Little Liars? Wouldn’t be there without Buffy. The Vampire Diaries even take exact storylines from Buffy to use in their show but we’ll save that discussion for another time.
It’s not like it was easy either. Creator/ writer/ director extraordinaire Joss Whedon had to fight like hell to get this made. He came up with the idea years before, & managed to get it picked up by a major film company who took the idea & butchered it into the so bad it’s good 1995 that saw Buffy first come to life. It was unheard of to make a film into a television series, more so if it were a bad film, but Whedon pushed & fought so he could make the Buffy he knew people needed to see. The fight didn’t end there, & throughout the whole series he was constantly working to create what he knew was right. When the network wanted to cut the first kiss between two main female characters in a relationship, Joss threatened to walk off the show. The network panicked, the kiss was left uncut, history was made & hundreds & thousands of people saw that loving someone of the same sex was normal.
But the most important message of all that Buffy gave, is that being feminine doesn’t mean you can’t be strong. If anything, it showed us that being feminine can make you stronger, that girls can fight, that girls can be in charge & that we can be powerful. Also, that you never had to be alone. Yes, it was Buffy who was the slayer & had all the powers but she had a loving mother, amazing best friends, the best father figure a person could ask for & so much more.
It resonated with me on such a level that even though some of the messages initially went over my head, I adored it. Buffy represented so much of what my life was like – I too, was in a family of three girls & was the older sister, I too was then blonde & wanted nothing more than a pair of red leather trousers. When Buffy cut her hair in season six, I had to cut my hair too, even if I then cried for days mourning my long hair. Rewatching it over the years has only grown my love for it, where I’ve been able to realise the episodes are so much more than monster of the week.
I’ve met Michael Cudlitz & Alexandra Breckenridge at Walker Stalker Con & talked with each of them about the Buffy episodes they each had roles in – Cudlitz got so excited & gave me a high five & a big hug.
I’ve met Anthony Stewart Head (Giles) twice at conventions, & been tweeted by Amber Benson, Emma Caulfield, Sarah Michelle Gellar herself & even FaceTimed Tom Lenk.
Honestly, I could talk about this show forever. It means so much to me that I find it incredibly difficult to put into words. But for now, I’ll just say that my life would be completely & utterly different without Buffy the Vampire Slayer ever having been in it.
So thank you, to Joss Whedon for creating it; to Jane Espenson Steven S. DeKnight, David Fury, Drew Goddard, Drew Greenberg, David Greenwalt, Rebecca Rand Kirshner, Marti Noxon & Doug Petrie for writing it; to Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Anthony Stewart Head, Seth Green, David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, Eliza Dushku, James Masters, Emma Caulfield, Amber Benson & Michelle Trachtenberg for bringing life to those characters.
Thank you to my cousin Ellie, for introducing it to me; & to my sister Lucy for watching it with me.
And thank you to my Mum, for raising me on the best show ever.
Happy Birthday Buffy. You saved the world, a lot.
If you want to read me go even more into why this show is the best thing to ever happen, read this post.