Saturday, May 14, 2005

Adventures of a Slayer-Wannabe

Every girl who could have the power... will have the power... can stand up, will stand up. Slayers... every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?
Chosen, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 7.

The first time my husband caught be watching Buffy, I was embarrassed. (How cheesy.) The second time I was defensive. The third time I was too in love with the show to care. (That's the subversive charm of the show -- it lures you in slowly but surely.)

If you are a non-convert, I know what you're thinking: Something called Buffy, The Vampire Slayer is bound to be silly and marginal...and why must people that like a show make it seem more than it is?

I'm here before you are a relatively non-stupid human being to tell you that I love this show because it has depth, humor, intelligent writing, and quality acting. I'm standing slayer-like to defend a show that, even with it legions of fans, is still underrated.

Even the name has a subversive brilliance when you consider the show is largely about underestimating women. Who could take a show with that name seriously? Who could take a little blonde girl seriously? But if you take the name or the girl at face value, you're missing a lot.

Joss Whedon got the idea for the show because he was sick of some little blonde girl always getting killed in some dark alley in horror movies. He said he wanted the blonde girl to "take back the night."

That's right -- Buffy at heart is a show about girl power. (Jennifer Garner, and every other woman in Hollywood playing kick-ass women, need to thank Joss.) It was also a show that made it clear that with power comes responsibilities and choices. And that no matter how strong you could use a few friends.

It was a show that dealt in the supernatural, but also used it as a metaphor for real life challenges...loving the wrong guy, physical abuse, sexual assault, death, first jobs, growing apart from friends, finding out your parents liked to you... In an episode called Weight of The World,, Buffy saves someone and they say to her, "But you're just a girl!" Buffy wearily replies, "That's what I keep saying." Who hasn't had that feeling?

It was a show unafraid to take chances. In the 4th season episode, Hush, the town in plunged into silence and so is the viewer. In the Season 5 episode, The Body, Buffy loses a loved one and a decision was made not to have incidental music because Joss felt it was too much of a comfort to the viewer -- what remains is one of the most realistic portrayals of what losing someone really feels like. In Once More With Feeling (Season 6) Joss made up for the lack of music by doing a musical...and if that's not gutsy, what is?

Words. BtVS was a show that loved words. Clever turns of phrases, funny dialogue, moving language, a rich tapestry of vowels and consonants that communicated so much. For anyone who loves language the show was a smorgasbord.

Buffy also featured one of the best lesbian relationships ever shown on tv. Ironically the network (WB) tried to tighten the reins on what could be shown. If he had engineered a kiss for sweeps week, it would have been all whiskers on kittens, but a long and loving relationship between two women gave the network the vapors. (And clever Joss had their first on screen kiss be so incidental that nobody could object.)

I began to watch the show by accident, but it won me over because it was that good! I'm a person who can like a show, and still not watch it if the remote is not in sight, and barely notice when it's cancelled. I'm wearing out my DVDS, I watch the reruns on TV, I read books on the show like the one listed below (and which I recommend.) I'm passionately in love with this show in a way I've never been with another show.

If you have not seen the show, borrow the dvds from a friend or relative. Give yourself a chance to fall in love with not just Buffy -- but Willow, and Xander, and Spike, and Tara... Allow yourself the luxury of seven seasons of intelligent writing which you can now view at warp speed. (Oops, mixing shows here.)

You know you want to join us!
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