Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on March 10th 1997, although if you’re reading this post there is a good chance you already know that. Slated as a mid-season replacement for the start-up network, The WB aired the two-part series premier “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and “The Harvest” back to back. My parents caught both episodes and thought my brother and I might like it – I don’t think it ever dawned on them that I would like it so much.
At the time I was only 11 and had a 9pm bedtime so I didn’t typically get to watch anything after 7th Heaven but the following week my parents let us stay up to watch Buffy’s third episode “The Witch”. The show quickly became a family favorite and an exception to our 9pm bedtime rule.
While everyone in my family considered themselves a fan and the show remained appointment viewing for all seven seasons, it became clear around the 4th and 5th seasons that I was way more invested than my family or even friends for that matter. So when I say “Happy 15th Anniversary” to Buffy the Vampire Slayer I guess I really mean to say, “Thanks Joss Whedon for the last 15 years and for creating the Buffyverse”.
To celebrate this occasion here’s 15 things I love about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
1. Joss Whedon took creative chances, which led to some of the most excellent and original episodes of TV that I have ever seen. Standouts include “Hush”, a mostly dialogue free episode, “Once More With Feeling”, the musical episode, “Restless”, a dream filled episode with lots of hints about seasons to come, “The Body”, which deals with the loss of a loved one in the most uncomfortably realistic way possible, and “The Zeppo”, which gives Xander a chance to shine while the typical A-story apocalypse happens in the background.
2. The show shifts tones almost seamlessly. Laughter and tears are totally possible in the same episode. The humor in the show undercuts the serious moments, which is pretty much my approach to life on a regular basis.
3. At the end of every episode the little Mutant Enemy man crosses the screen saying “Grr Arrg”, and on very special occasions it mixes it up with a santa hat, graduation cap, or other episode related in-jokes.
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and many of Whedon’s other works feature villians who are truely creepy and devoted to their evil ways. The bad guys aren’t just caricatures but multi-dimensional characters that truly believe what they are doing is right or are unwaveringly committed to being evil. The Mayor is a great example b/c he takes the time to meet with the boy scouts, acts as a fatherly figure to Faith, and is a germ freak yet he’s a demon who ascends on Graduation Day.
5. Whedonverse characters grow and not just up. They mature, learn to be less selfish, and embrace responsibility. Buffy empowers another generation of girls, Xander accepts his non-superpower self, Anya chooses to become a human and fight till the end, Faith goes on her own redemptive journey, and Cordelia becomes a hero in her own right.
6. Buffy made being an outsider okay. The show teaches you that with the right group of friends you can survive anything from high school to the end of the world.
7. Just about all two-parters were action packed and insanely suspenseful. From “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and “The Harvest” to “Surprise” and “Innocence” and “Graduation Day Part 1 & 2” the week-long wait between new episodes was almost unbearable.
8. Over seven seasons Buffy and the Scooby gang celebrated several holidays, which is great to re-watch every year. Besides Buffy’s Birthday there is Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Valentine’s Day.
9. Every time I hear the theme song by Nerf Herder, I can’t help but rock out. I also love Oz’s band Dingos Ate My Baby, a.k.a Four Star Mary.
10. While I firmly believe that seasons 1-5 are better than 6 or 7 I still appreciate the way the show went out. Buffy the Vampire Slayer finished up on its own terms and in a way that seemed fitting for the series.
11. The show’s quotability: “I mock you with my monkey pants.”, “You made a bear. Undo it.”, “… bogart out the cheesy chips.”, “five by five”, “The earth is doomed.”, etc…
12. Buffy chooses Buffy over Spike or Angel. Although I’ve never really been a ‘shipper I’ve always been partial to Angel, even though there is that whole risk of Angelus returning, but either way I was happy that Buffy chose to be on because as she put she was still “cookie dough”.
13. One of the few bright spots of season four: Anya’s bunny costume and general fear of those normally cute creatures. What started out as a sight gag became a long running joke that never got old.
14. The show kicked more than demon ass. Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured strong male and female characters that everyone could look up to. Throughout middle school, high school, and even in college when I would re-watch episodes on DVD, Buffy remained a constant in my life and helped me through the good times and the bad.
15. She saved the world a lot.