I may have come a little late to the Buffy obsession, it’s true. When everyone else was going crazy over Joss Whedon’s masterpiece (well, one of many), I was occupied with Power Rangers and Sonic the Hedgehog and a whole range of other (much more age appropriate) forms of media.
Once I was old enough to be ‘political’ about my choices in media consumption, I indulged in a somewhat Frankfurt School-ian belief that TV made people into mindless zombies, TV was stupid and normative, TV should be shunned. Luckily the Cult Film and TV course I took in my undergrad opened my eyes.
I can’t begin to discuss the hours of my life that have been wonderfully enriched by TV shows learned about in that class (Deadwood, Justified, Firefly, Veronica Mars, The Wire). Buffy is the latest, and dare I say, perhaps the greatest of them all. There is a reason why academics, especially of the feminist variety, absolutely adore Buffy. Joss Whedon has the ability to create a show full of fun magic and monsters and yet everything seems to symbolize the absolute most real moments of a young woman’s life.
I’m at Season 6, fast approaching the terrifying end, and in this season, two major issues (and a whole bunch of smaller ones) come up. These are of Buffy’s abusive relationship with Spike, and Willow’s magic addiction. Besides that there are issues of rape-by-magic, depression, marriage, the pain of dealing with break-ups, and teenage girls growing up. Oh, and shall I mention the way in which Joss Whedon provides a homosexual couple that defies all stereotypes (well besides the Wicca part…) and just manages to function like any other normal couple?
One of the most beautiful and refreshing things about Buffy is that within these issues, women are constantly foregrounded in a way that never occurs in average movies/TV. And 99% of the time the women are the ones doing all the saving.
And throughout all the seasons, we see Buffy grow up. She and her friends deal with all the issues that the average teenager-growing-into-a-young-adult deals with. We cry when her mom dies, and we feel her pain when she loses her first love (who just happens to be a vampire) to his evil nature.
Overall, despite the silly costumes and special effects (and a lot of really bad leather jackets), Buffy is one of the most realistic of all TV shows.