Sunday, 18 August 2013

Stuff I like Sunday: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Oh yeah, the big one. The holy grail. The show that went on in the late 1990s where a small blonde high school girl kicked evil in the arse repeatedly while dealing with serious high school things, and then grew up and dropped out of college and had to deal with even more serious life things, but still all the arses needed kicking all the time and that was no problem because hey, she's the Slayer! Nothing wrong or weird about that.

I could actually make this entire blog post just videos interspersed with overlong gushy sentences.

But no, let's do some writing! I first discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1998, back when I was still a young thing who should probably not have been watching violent shows aimed at teenagers (although to put it in perspective, my brother's favourite films growing up were Starship Troopers and Predator...) I was completely hooked, downloaded all the episodes onto VHS when Fox Australia did their whole season marathons (Slayerfest!) and spent a lot of the next few years writing endless juvenile stories about myself as the slayer, except of demonic frogs rather than vampires.

There were a few things I thought were weird about the show when I was nine. I thought it was strange that even though Buffy and Angel were clearly meant to be together forever, he turned evil in Season 2, wouldn't really talk to her in Season 3 and then left altogether to do his own crazy Angel thing. What's with that? Similarly, I didn't really like Spike coming back without Drusilla in Season 4, especially as it ruined the symmetry- Spike and Drusilla are supposed to be one entity! One Big Bad! You can just imagine how I felt about the Troika in Season 6. On many levels. I also had friends at school who thought it was very unrealistic that Willow would give up places at top universities in order to go to UC Sunnydale, because obviously you go to the academic best university that you are given a place at with no consideration for other factors, right?

It did not seem at all weird to me at the time that this would be a female-fronted show where women characters in general are seen as far more powerful and in touch than the men around them. Likewise, it didn't seem weird ‒ once I'd accepted the idea that characters can have more than one romance in their lifetimes ‒ that Willow would fall in love with Tara and be a lesbian from that point onwards. To be fair it also didn't seem weird that Buffy's entire life was defined by antagonisms with male authority figures (yes, and her Mum, that's true) but hey. It wasn't perfect, but there's nothing else that's ever been like it.

Proof that Buffy was better than everything that came after, if you ever needed it:

I actually thought I had much more to say about Buffy - after all, it's one of the only shows I know of with its own dedicated journal, Slayage - but actually I'm going to leave this here, if only to avoid looking up more amazing videos. This was one of the very best shows for representation of women, and it ended ten years ago, and there's been nothing quite like it since. Why is that? Hmm.