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It ran for seven seasons, garnered critical and commercial success, spawned the hugely popular spinoff Angel, and established Joss Whedon on a career that would lead him to the dizzy Avengertype heights he today commands. How wrong could they be? Was it a show about a girl who ran around with her friends killing vampires? Well, yes it was. But it was about so much more. The genius of the show, and a huge part of its popularity, lay in the ability of the writers to ensure that almost everything that happens is metaphorical, taking the monstrous things about being a teenager and making them literal.
Rarely have horror and humour been as seamlessly blended as they were on Buffy. Renowned for his brilliant ability with dialogue, Whedon and his writers filtered enough laughs throughout the show to almost allow it to be categorised as a comedy as well.
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Often the laughter would be perfectly placed to relieve moments of tension, with characters such as Andrew and Anya providing some cracking lines and situations.
All hail, Joss Whedon! We have Buffy to thanks for making a star out of Joss Whedon. And the one thing that will rid him of it? Having sex with Buffy, the consequence of which is to return him to evil. Talk about sexual tension! Her other love, Spike, also a vampire, offered a fascinating take on our attraction to all that is forbidden, these natural enemies finding each other irresistible.
But one of the most trailblazing episodes of Buffy, The Body, is extraordinary for reasons other than its portrayal of death. They hold each other and kiss, their first in a series which had seen their relationship as a couple work its way into the hearts of fans. Whedon and the team of writers had been careful not to sensationalise their first kiss, as other TV shows with gay characters had done in the past, and to place it within an everyday context.
Whedon had wanted it to go unnoticed and, in doing so, normalise it. This bunch of high school misfits plus their grown up Watcher, a far from cool librarianlooked out for each other, loved each other and saved the world — a lot. Hell, they even let Spike in.
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The music As is the case for any teen angst drama, music is vital and Buffy had a soundtrack as enjoyable as the show itself. How did that happen? Because one night, as a grown man who had dismissed the idea of the show as something for teenage girls, arriving home from work and putting on the TV, I slumped on the sofa and on came The Body. Despite not really knowing much about the show, let alone who most of the characters were, I sat astonished at the depiction of grief being portrayed, as Buffy arrives home to find that her mother, Joyce, has died of natural causes.
Hardly any supernatural content. It was extremely emotional and absolutely stunning. And to top it off, that lesbian kiss was presented in the least exploitative way imaginable. By the end of the next day, all of the box sets were next to my TV. And boy, did we love to hate them. And when they became allies, like Spike and Faith, well that was even better. As the show developed and the writers played more and more with our expectations, they threw quite a few surprises at us.
Where did she come from? She was just, well, there! Other writers might have been tempted to answer what was happening sooner but this lot, brilliantly, continued to keep us in the dark. It has influenced popular media culture The popularity of Buffy led to a surge in supernatural themed TV, film, and fiction. Buffy studies OK class, pay attention.
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Not only has it had more academic papers written about that than almost any other show, the range of study is wider than that of other programmes, too.
From issues of feminism and identity to studies of social issues examined within the form of fantasy, Buffy leads the way. Buffy was perhaps the first TV show of its kind to legitimise the study of popular culture. Joss Whedon went one better than capturing the language of the era in Buffy — he created it.
And the way was simple. Realising that using contemporary slang quickly dates a show, Whedon and his fellow writers simply followed the rules of slang and created their own. So, even twenty years on, the Buffyisms we knew and loved from the start still feel fresh. Angel As a character, Angel is a brilliant creation. A vampire who was once infamous for his cruelty and viscous nature has his soul restored by an angry gypsy clan, meaning that he is constantly tormented by his former evil deeds.
Only an act of pure happiness will rid him of his torment. That moment of happiness comes when he and Buffy finally make love, turning him back into a monster. As a spinoff series, Angel often achieved higher ratings than Buffy, and this expansion of the Buffyverse turned into a great show in its own right.
Buffy differed from other The fictional universe created by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and expanded by Angel is one of the most comprehensive in TV fiction, both as a result of the shows themselves and through the continued devotion of fans. In the Buffyverse, magic, demons, vampires, werewolves, slayers, and watchers all exist, as does resurrection, alternative dimensions and the gateway to Hell.
Outside of the TV show, the Buffyverse has been expanded in different forms. There are comics and novels, even a video game, and much of this fiction serves to keep the insatiable appetite for and love of the Scoobies satiated.
Much like a vampire needs blood, Buffy fans need, well, Buffy. Long may the Buffyverse continue to expand. Only here, the addiction could have led to the end of the world. The end female heroes like Wonder Woman in that she was never overtly sexualised in that role. She never had to run around in a revealing outfit to ward off her foes, and her relationships with men, whilst complex, did not define her.
And it showed that feminism comes in many guises, including blonde cheerleaders. Bad Willow — best character arc ever? One of the things that TV can do better than film is in giving characters an arc that can last for years rather than the twohour confines of a movie.
And has there ever been one more satisfying than that of Willow Rosenberg? She starts off as a shy nerd; a girl with some magical ability. This ability grows stronger through hard work and study, through passion and need. But what makes the idea so great is that it reflects the very theme of the programme, the empowerment of young women having been central to the show all along.
She is, finally, free. Legacy Shows that came about because of Buffy aside, Buffy the Vampire Slayer really should have changed the world. Well, at least the world of TV. Buffy should have started a cultural shift in the way programme makers presented women.
And finally… We cared. Oh lord, did we care. Of course, there had been plenty of other TV shows before Buffy in which we loved the characters, and there have been plenty since Battlestar Galactica, anyone?
Did any show make us care so hard we cried, we laughed, we stayed up far too late to watch back-toback episodes on the box set, we grieved when we lost beloved friends again, some of us are still not over Anyaand our hearts melted when love shone - sometimes straight, sometimes gay, sometimes human and demon - whatever!
The overriding message of Buffy - love, friendship, support, cooperation and never going anywhere without a wooden stake - became life lessons for us all. So there you have it. It may be twenty years since we first fell in love with Buffy, but the affair continues thanks to the passion of fans and the various tie ins which keep the Scoobies with us so that hopefully Buffy and pals will continue to save the world — a lot. The cash might come in handy to keep the party flowing on a Saturday night, but what if things go wrong?
Do you really want total strangers messing about in your head without a safety net? But it was a game of two halves; with home-grown shows, our young minds were relatively protected by familiarity - we could relate to the works of Oliver Postgate or Gerry Anderson; we instinctively understood the playbook for BBC serials or ITV adventure series.
As we grew into our teens, nothing really blindsided us anymore. Most of the shows she and her successors presented dated from the s or even earlier but, re-edited and re-dubbed, they found immortality in the summer holiday schedules of the s; series like French Musketeers-on-speed saga The Flashing Blade with its pulsating opening titles chant all together now: Adapted into three parts from a feature film and shown repeatedly by the Beeb untilit told the story of a spoilt Princess who demands a wealthy Prince bring her an enchanted tree if he wants her hand in marriage.
Little does the Prince realise that this simple task will pitch him lederhosen-first into a quagmire of animal metamorphosis, spooky enchanted forests and an evil dwarf.
David Lynch and Tim Burton were definitely taking notes; this was proper strange, particularly as you could still hear the original German dialogue fading in and out under a strident British voiceover that told us what was apparently going on. We just had to take his word for it. Couture Colour by Master Colour Experts A master colour expert is recognised as one of the highest colour qualifcations in the industry.
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