Creator Joss Whedon rejuvenated the Buffy verse after the film version aired in 1992. Five years later, he had constructed a whole new Buffy and a whole new world for her to fight in.
The pilot titled, ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ introduced Buffy to the town of Sunnydale, her best friends, Willow and Xander, and her watcher, Rupert Giles. These connections formed the foundations of the bond the characters shared. Each was truthfully complicated, richly human and most importantly relatable.
Whoever we were, we could relate to the mistakes, desires and issues the Scoobie gang were experiencing, all in a world where the demons, vampires and supernatural underworld reflected the best and worst of them.
The familiar yet other, terrifying yet comforting brought a unique energy and spirit to the series.
The Core of Heart
As the leading hero, Buffy had a determined, brash, quirky, funny and warm-hearted nature. But her other qualities, such as, her assumption that she was the leader led her to dismiss her friend’s thoughts and ideas. Buffy contradicted herself in the early days of the series when she rebelled against her Slayer destiny, but immediately took leadership of any situation that required her to act.
Her mistakes and actions caused conflicts between her friends but it was how she dealt with them that displayed the true strength of her character. At first, she would kick some demon ass, crack a few snappy lines, then do something wonderfully human, take responsibility for her actions and accept help.
And Buffy isn’t the only one of the core group to do this. Willow, Xander and Giles all believed in their friendship enough to move forward and admit their own weaknesses, allowing them to become better versions of themselves as they saved the world.
Those Meddling Kids
Here comes the blood, the gore, the spells, the deaths and the madness. In parallel to the rich, human elements of the series, the supernatural/horror ones struck an ideological balance between the Scoobie gang’s beliefs and those that festered in the darkness.
These ideologies are broken down into distinct categories. Season 1’s vampire king, The Master, craved freedom and power which interlinks with Buffy’s desires. She wanted freedom from being the Slayer, to think about homework and boys. But, she knew that being the Slayer was a core element of who she was. The power Buffy had became central to how she experienced her relationship with Angel.
In season 2, Angelus represented the speciesism of the demon world. He believed humanity deserved nothing but hell and torture, that demons were superior. Yet, when invested with a soul, his love for Buffy enabled him to understand why humanity deserved protection.
With season 3, Mayor Wilkins was the symbol of change and transformation. At this point in the Scoobie gang’s lives, they were experiencing one of the biggest changes, their high school graduation. With Buffy and Willow moving on to university, the threat of Adam and the Initiative were the catalysts for Buffy to seek new territory as the Slayer. To adapt to different rules, whilst discovering how much strength her friends gave her.
Coming into season five, Dawn’s arrival as the key and hell god, Glory, was the pinnacle moment for Buffy and her family. Dawn’s need of protection and the death of their mother, Joyce, forced Buffy to mature and grow as a person, not as the Slayer. However, her development as a human being reinforced her Slayer strength. Her sacrifice for Dawn was one of the most important moments of Buffy’s development.
That single act of sacrifice to save her sister transformed Buffy into the most powerful and beautiful version of herself.
The last two televised seasons showcased the best and worst of Buffy and her friends. In season six, Buffy’s resurrection left her disconnected from who she was. The trio made up of Warren, Jonathan and Andrew were the opposition to Buffy’s own weaknesses and emotional suffering. They had no true power but because Buffy wasn’t connected to the world she left, the threat they posed was greater.
Similarly, Willow, Xander and Giles experienced the most vulnerable and isolated aspects of their lives. Willow’s addiction to magic tipped the balance between who had more power and what the wrong kind of power could do. Xander’s deep rooted fears of becoming like his abusive father represented his reluctance to grow up and make a life-long commitment to Anya.
Giles continued to drift as his role as watcher came to a natural but fractured end. He was no longer the father or teacher. This dramatically affected his relationship with the core group as he grew detached and hesitant to understand their decisions and choices.
Season 7 ‘s focus on the Slayer line and Buffy’s true power counteracted the first evil’s ambition to sever the Slayer line. It became clearer to Buffy and the gang that their friendship and loyalty to one another was their greatest power.
Progression of the Soul
With the ideologies central to the success of the series, the social progression of it was another brilliant justification when determining the show as legendary. By reflecting our reality through the characters desires, hopes and fears, the social changes that followed the Scoobies were vital to the emotional connections fans made, and continue to make, with them.
Willow and Tara’s relationship evolved the series into a new and exciting direction. LGBTQ fans could relate and follow their relationship; giving the core message of the series a louder voice: Strength is accepting who you are and never letting your fears win.
The Buffy/Angel and Xander/Anya relationships also showcased non-conformity and unconventional stories by exploring the deepest passions and fears of two beings who defy humanity’s falsely constructed idea of what love truly is.
Giles story of self-discovery outside of the watcher’s council was superseded within the more central character arcs. His fatherly love for Buffy and loss of Jenny defined his character to the point where he makes the decision to leave Sunnydale. There aren’t many older, mature characters within a supernatural, fantasy series that are given the platform to explore moments of isolation and loneliness. To me, that’s why Giles development is a standout element to the legend that is Buffy.
The story never ends
Legendary definition: ‘of, or of the nature of a legend. Celebrated or described in legend.’ It’s been over 12 years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a legend.
To this day, the series continues in comic form and celebrated around the world for its rich, complex characters and powerful and gripping stories; showcasing the best and worst of humanity through a supernatural spectrum.
But most of all, the legend of Buffy is its lifelong lesson and legacy. To always be open to change. Love and care for those closest. Accept help when needed. Explore and learn with all your heart. Never give up. Never stay quiet. Love powerfully and painfully.
The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it. Make your choice, are you ready to be strong?