Twenty years ago a midseason replacement show based on a flopped 1992 movie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer hit TV screens and it instantly changed my life. For some, maybe it was My So Called Life, Friends, Dawsons Creek, Gilmore Girls or even Party of Five, there is a TV show that will always be the one, the one that changed TV forever, that you obsessed over, lost weekends rewatching, and in my case even inspiring my dissertation, yep, I did a media degree and I wrote about Buffy and her impact on the world. For some, mainly those that have never seen the show, they might say, it’s just a TV show, but for me, it was and is so much more than that, it was a chance to see a kick-arse female being strong, vulnerable, geeky, quirky, falling in love and being unapologetic about adolescence.
It was funny, romantic, scary, heartbreaking, an adrenaline rush, the show with the ultimate one-liners, and most importantly groundbreaking, what other show would give you a musical, an episode where there was 20 minutes of dialogue-free action, an hour looking at grief when Buffy’s mum dies, or to show the first lesbian kiss, without Buffy the Vampire Slayer making young female characters central to the show I don’t think I would have got to enjoy some of my other favourite TV shows including Alias, Charmed and most recently, Jessica Jones.
What you have to remember is, Buffy was a show that came before social media, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a community, for me, Buffy-mad fans and their love of forums is what inspired social media as we know it now. I remember getting time on our shared internet at university, listening to the dial up and then slowly heading to the forums to discuss the latest episode. There were even drinking games to do while watching Buffy. What made Buffy special was how real it was, it didn’t shy away from showing teen life, it embraced the complex nature of growing up, and even brought the sense of the world into the show, do you remember the Earshot episode that showed a Columbine-style massacre before it happened. Yes, it was funny, but it was also harrowing, and it really delved into some big issues, as well as saving the world from the hellmouth.
I’ve been thinking about why 20 years on Buffy is still relevant, why I don’t tire from watching the episodes over-and-over, and I really think it is because Joss Whedon and the writing teams, as well as the cast were just so incredible, they made Buffy relatable. When watching you are invested in her winning, you feel her pain, it makes you think you are part of the Scooby Gang, and most of all it is a feminist story, about the empowerment of women, and doesn’t that still feel so real today.
I think even in a 100 years time people will remember that Buffy saved the world and changed television – a lot!!!
So, what are your favourite Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes?
It’s hard to narrow it down the 144 episode show down to just say five key episodes but I’ll give it my best shot:
“Once More, with Feeling” (Season 6, Episode 7)
Come on who would have thought a vampire TV show would make a great musical? I love this episode so much I even have the special CD of the soundtrack. I dare you to watch this episode and not sing along!!!
“Hush” (Season 4, Episode 10)
I’m obsessed with this episode as it really is terrifying and yet still hilarious, oh and half of the show is without any dialogue, yep Joss Whedon made a silent horror episode. I’m not going to lie The Gentlemen that steal the voices of everyone in Sunnydale might give you nightmares but you will love this memorable episode.
“The Prom” (Season 2, Episode 20)
Seeing Buffy presented with the Class Protector award and having Angel show up to the Prom to give here that fairy-tale dance moment makes this one of my go-to episodes when I need a Buffy fix and it is all set to Wild Horses by The Sundays, one of my favourite tunes.
“The Zeppo” (Season 3, Episode 13)
Need a Xander fix? Well, you can’t get better than this hectic, crazy, Xander-centric episode where he falls in with a dead crowd, has a romantic moment with Faith, screams a lot and averts a bomb going off in the school. This episode is such a rush.
“Band Candy” (Season 3, Episode 6)
Ever wondered what your parents were like when they were teens? Well, this candy-induced episode is so funny, especially Giles, oh and there’s a scene where Angel is doing tai-chi with his top off, you’re welcome.