Buffy – Buffy, Buffy, Buffy. You have plagued the shadows of my life for way too long. I have heard of you, I have seen your fan art, I have listened to my friends talk countless of hours about your awesomeness. But up until this very moment, I had nothing to do with you. That’s right. I’m a Buffy virgin.
But if it weren’t for recent peer pressure (as per usual), then I would still be living in the dark. In every generation there is a Chosen One. I alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of Netflix. I am the slayer! And these are my chronicles while watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer for the first time…. as a 35 year old woman.
So here’s the back story. In a recent Podcast (Episode 46) we (Ryan, Watson, and I) played a little game where we got to pick and choose random topics to talk about after San Diego ComicCon. Long story short (too late!), I was tasked to watch just ONE episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer because it has always been a geek blind spot for me, and well – I always thought it was a little lame. I mean – vampires? Gag.
I never watched BuffY in it’s prime. Never. Not one episode. Not even a magazine article outlining which 90’s styles came from the show. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. But you know what happens over time? You grow up. And in my “growing up” I’ve watched a lot of crappy TV. I mean – I watched ALL (yes, every single stinking awful episode) of True Blood. And if I could
waste my time make it through that, then surely I could watch Buffy?
So here I am, writing my experience while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time – ever. I asked all of my current geek friends (because my old friends are not as geeky as I am) to name their favorite season of Buffy, and one of them gave me a death threat. I’m not kidding. She probably would have driven a steak through my heart given the chance. How dare I ask her to choose just one favorite season! Some of my other reasonable friends all agreed that the show really started to take off after Season 2. So keeping that in mind, for my first two updates only, I will be recapping my reaction to the entirety of Season 1 & Season 2 in separate posts. After that – I will do episodic updates as I watch them.
And if you didn’t already know it – there are about a bazillion spoilers ahead. I mean – come on people, I shouldn’t have to give you a spoiler warning, the show is over 10 years old. But alas….for those of you who haven’t watched Buffy (I don’t even know how that’s possible because I am the last person on earth who hasn’t seen it) – consider yourself warned.
Here we go!
Season 1 Recap:
Okay, I’m really doing this. I’m watching Buffy! And OMG! We’re totally going back to the 90’s. It’s like the 90’s threw up all over the TV. Oh shoot me now. Did I ever dress like that? Because those clothes are awful. And the hair. And the totally 90’s attitude and steriotypical cliques. Oh holy hell – what have I gotten myself into? The show started in 1997 – so that would have made me 17 at the time. Shit. That means I DID wear those clothes, and ooooooooh god….. I totally identify with all of this. I’m in trouble.
See that picture of me above? I’m pretty sure Willow wore the same shirt in one of the episodes. Shoot me now. And what’s with the puka shells as a necklace? Was that a thing? I totally don’t remember that being a thing.
I guess that was totally a thing. Damn it. As you can see, I’m not the shining example of fashion. I was pretty much a tom boy through and through. Maybe I meant that Xander wore something like that in 1997? Doesn’t matter – back to the show. Thank god I’m not 17 anymore!
So a couple of things I noticed about Season 1 (other than the abhorrent 90’s stench on everything) was the typical high school drama theme. You know –
- Skater boy (Xander) meets new girl (Buffy), has crush on her forever and ever until-they-die-so-help-them-god.
- Geeky smart girl (Willow) is always in the shadows and nobody loves her, yet she’s still totally awesome and we all identify with her the most, and of-course-she-loves-the-boy-who-doesn’t-notice-her.
- Bitchy popular girl (Cordelia) like, totally, like, runs the school, like, keeps everyone in check, like because, like, she’s the worst.
- Caring teacher type (Giles) is always there to be the voice of reason, yet really has no power and secretly just wants to fit in because he never grew out of his own personal awkward phase.
- And finally the central character (Buffy) is the one who apparently has no rules, no parents, no worries, and no consequences because, duh…..she’s hot.
Okay, I get it – these are the main cast of characters. But lord help me – it’s bad. Not just the old tropes, but the acting is pretty bad as well. Who thought this show was good when it first started? Anyone? Did anyone really say – “you know what Sarah Michelle Gellar, that inner dialog you’re letting slip out of your mouth is really compelling – top notch stuff.”
I can get past lame story lines, and hee-haw zingers only because the underlying theme of the show is ridiculous. Vampires plaguing a city unto which the school itself is on the center of a “hell-mouth.” That’s stretching it folks….yep, that’s stretching it. So, bad acting aside, the show at it’s core is built on a house of cards. Hell-mouth? Really?
So Season 1 sets up a couple of things we need to know. Like the “Slayer” prophecy, and the fact that there is a “Watcher.” I wonder if there is a builder, a baker, or a candlestick maker? It also sets up a couple of other cray-cray ideas like:
- Apparently there isn’t a safer place to have a home base than in the school library. *Slaps forehead* This is a terrible idea. Did anyone, at any time, think “hey, maybe we should find a secret safe spot?” But no, everyone thought it was perfectly logical to have a protected fortress of solitude be at the very place where there are hundreds of people there every day. On top of a Hell-Mouth. Yep, that’s totally practical!
- Under age “clubbing” is a thing, because, you know, being 16 at a club is totally safe and normal. The idea of the Bronze club proves that the 90’s were recovering from the drug haze of the 80’s. On top of underage drinking and dance parties, we also get crappy grunge bands. (Side note, I love grunge bands, I’m just not a fan of Buffy grunge bands, which I can’t even begin to explain). Shitastic Bands at the Bronze – yes, that is a real thing.
- Vampires in Sunnydale just stand and stare at their prey. Sounds about right. We needed more 90’s drama, so we place a scary demon looking vampire on the opposite end of the hall, street, room, whateverthefuck, and have them glare their yellowy eyes menacingly before they then tell us what they’re about to do. And apparently they move slow, just like zombies. No one runs on this show. They must have a thing about not running. I kind of like that. I have a thing about not running as well. Bravo. You’ve hooked me in with your promotion for minimal exercise.
Despite some of these shortcomings, thankfully the 1st season gives us our first sighting of Angel. This is when we find out that he has no friends, he likes to brood, and he has a thing for Buffy. Well listen here Angel, I don’t mind your broodiness, actually, I’ve totally got a thing for you. Ever heard of the #Jenny30? Because if not, you will….oh yes…. you will. Momma say knock you out.
Yes, Angel…. you always brood. But I don’t care. Keep on brooding right on over to Austin, Tx. Thanks. I’ll be waiting for you.
Moving on – After our rag-tag team finally figures out that they are going to be friends. We find out the group has super powers! No – just kidding. We find out they have “special talents.” For example, Willow is a hacker! Didn’t see that coming. And WHOA – WTF – Buffy can just jump over fences? Okaaaaaay. And bust through steel doors! Wow. Oh, and of course Giles is like a super computer – I mean, we all know the librarian thing is just an elaborate front. He’s a cyborg, right? And Awwww – Xander… Yeah, so Xander is really good at…. ummm. Yeah, too bad for Xander.
The whole season wraps around the idea that Buffy is figuring out how to balance life, being a 16 year old, and also having the responsibilities of being “the slayer.” They mention this concept quite a bit. Buffy is the only slayer – so the whole world’s safety rests on her shoulders. Screw school, screw sleeping, hell- screw screwing because you don’t have time for that. Actually – ain’t nobody got time for dat! A girl’s gotta slay! So while buffy slays, the show keeps going on and on with the same formula, like a broken record. Problem arises, Scooby Gang gets together to figure out the problem, Xander just gets in the way, and eventually Willow and Giles figure out what needs to be done, and Buffy executes. I like that they set this up over and over again for season 1. I didn’t mind the repetitive nature as I was trying to figure out each character. It gave me time to really dig into whether I liked these people individually or as a group on screen. Verdict? I like them.
Now, to be clear, that same admiration for Buffy and her friends did not extend to the dark side. The villains this season were terrible. I feel as if they were having a hard time thinking of bad people or monsters to kill. Maybe it’s because I’m jaded and have watched a lot of HBO, and anything goes on HBO. But the villains were weak. I wasn’t impressed. But, as much as some of the villains this season were totally and utterly corny and awful, the “big-bad” Master was a force to be reckoned with. I’ll give them that. I appreciated his sinister demonic ways, and at least it was a centralized villain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad that he’s gone, because I know that Spike is on his way (yes, I’ve already watched season 2, remember?) But all in all – the villains this season could have used a little spice when everything is said and done.
Okay! So that about wraps it up. Despite the overly 90’s version of everything I was watching, and the corny villains and bad acting, it still wasn’t as bad a True Blood in it’s final seasons. And according to all my friends, this is the worst season of Buffy, so everything gets better from here – right?
I am soooooooo looking forward to what’s coming next. Hell-mouth be damned, give me more Angel, and more Buffy, I’ve already slayed season 1 – my training is complete.