Original air date: March 10, 1997 – May 20, 2003
Episode running time: 43 minutes
Creator: Joss Whedon
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter, Anthony Head, David Boreanaz
Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 1
It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed since Sarah Michelle Gellar made her first appearance as Buffy Summers on the television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This also means I’m now twice the age I was when the show first started and unlike the vamps she dusted on a weekly basis I’m growing old gracefully with my much-loved memories of Sunnydale’s finest Slayer. But it wasn’t exactly love at first sight.
For any of us old enough to remember the utterly forgetful 1992 film, you might also recall a slight feeling of scepticism when a spin-off show was announced with an all-new cast line-up. What I didn’t realise back then was that it was creator Joss Whedon’s chance to put a lot of things right that many of us also recognised was wrong with the film.
After writing and partially funding a 25-minute pilot for the show, it was then sold to the WB Network. The premise was groundbreaking and yet so simple that it’s surprising that it hadn’t been done before. According to Whedon, it was “just the idea of some woman who seems to be completely insignificant who turns out to be extraordinary” ¹.
Picking up some time after the events of the film, Buffy arrives in Sunnydale with her mom to start a new life. Almost destroying your old high school isn’t the sort of thing that gives you glowing recommendations but Principal Flutie is willing to give her a chance at his school if she can manage to keep out of trouble.
Yet trouble seems to find Buffy whether she’s looking for it or not, starting with making a bad first impression on popular girl Cordilia Chase (Charisma Carpenter). Things go from bad to worse as her social credibility takes another dive when she starts hanging out Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon) and Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), the geekiest pair in Sunnydale, but that’s the least of Buffy’s problems.
The school librarian, Giles (Anthony Head), informs her that he’s her new Watcher and his job is to guide and train her in her duty as a Slayer. And the library sits on a Hellmouth, a portal between Earth and Hell.
In the seven seasons that followed, Buffy and her gang of friends, known as the “Scoobies”, would fight all manner of vampires, werewolves, demons, gods, witches and sometimes even each other. Week after week, and season after season I found myself addicted to the show and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next, they became part of my everyday life. Among my friends, who also watched the show as obsessively as I did, we’d assign characters to each other based on what traits we had in common with them. I was always Giles with my tendency to hang out in the school library and dress like a middle-aged man with neat trousers and ironed shirts. We even had our own Spike and Drusilla.
Whatever was happening in the storylines of the show we would always be able to relate it somehow to our own lives. Season 6 had a particular resonance for me, and although it’s a season that many fans said “dropped the ball”, there was a lot I could identify with from my life at that time.
After being brought back to life by her friends, Buffy has a tough time adjusting, not just to being alive again, but also coping with new responsibilities now that she has to take care of her little sister, Dawn, on her own.
While I didn’t die a mystical death and wasn’t resurrected from the dead by my friends, I was for the first time understanding my responsibilities as an adult which in many ways separated me from my former high school friends. Things were changing and like Buffy, there were times when I experienced moments of intense loneliness, self doubt and even an incredible urge to just give up entirely.
Things come to a head for Buffy in the musical episode Once More With Feeling where, under a spell, the Scoobies are all compelled to sing what they have been neglecting to say to each other. The lyrics from this episode summarised my own emotions so perfectly that I recall walking alone through the streets at the break of dawn singing and lamenting at my own pitiful existence. Minus the big band playing and the special effects, of course.
Later on, during the song Life’s a Show, in front of her friends Buffy finally confesses what she’s been feeling, forcing her friends to reflect on the fact that they didn’t just resurrect her from the dead. The music stops and she sings…
So that’s my refrain.
I live in hell
’Cause I’ve been expelled
I think I was in heaven.
So give me something to sing about.
Please give me something”
It’s also here that Dawn says to her “The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it.”, a reference to what Buffy says to her in the Season 5 finale, The Gift.
For all these moments and so many, many more I truly love this show and still can’t believe 15 years have passed since it started. It really makes you think about how time changes us all.
Whether your high school was hell, your boyfriend was a monster, you felt invisible all the time, your step dad was a robot or you have a tendency to really become your Halloween costume, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a show you could relate to because it took all of those fears, anxieties, conflicts and worries we all experience at one time or another as a teenager or young adult and made them real for its characters, entertaining and somewhat easier to cope with we as went into adulthood.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .