On March 10, 1997, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” made its debut on television on The WB (now The CW). The television series was based off the 1992 movie of the same name starring Kristy Swanson as Buffy Summers. The series, starring Emmy Award-winning actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, was written and directed by Joss Whedon (who would go on to write and direct the film adaptions of “The Avengers”), and lasted seven seasons.
Seasons one to seven intros to “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”:
The series focused on Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) as she tries to balance a normal life as a young girl, while simultaneously being the “Slayer.” Buffy Summers was her generation’s Slayer, coming from a line of young women who are chosen (by fate) to battle against vampires, demons, and other forces of evil, and given the strength and skills to do so. When one Slayer died, a new one is “called,” with the cycle itself repeating with no apparent end. The Slayer is guided by a Watcher, an individual who trains, teaches, and guides her on her quests.
Buffy Summers lived in Sunnydale, California, a town built on top of the Hellmouth (a portal to Hell). Because of the town’s location, the town was always a magnet to evil. What made Buffy stand out from other slayers was the fact that she didn’t allow her fate to control her, but decided to control her own fate. She surrounded herself with friends (commonly referred to as the Scooby Gang), as well as did her best to live her life as normal as possible (e.g. attending prom, going to college, having a boyfriend).
A recurring storyline throughout the seven seasons was the relationship and love between Buffy and Angel, even when they were separated and in different cities. Angel himself was a vampire who was cursed with a soul, therefore making him “good.” Given the dynamics of their lives, with Buffy being the Slayer, and Angel a vampire, the relationship itself faced many hurdles seeing how they were considered natural enemies.
The series itself has received a tremendous amount of critical acclaim, and has gained a huge cult following. Ever sense the series went off the air, it has lived on in fan work, comics, as well as a season eight on paperback written by Joss Whedon. The series is often discussed in various academic institutions; and academically speaking the discussions and lectures are referred to as “Buffy Studies.” Teachers tend to use the series to help explain academic topics such as women studies, gender studies, sociology, psychology, the importance of culture, as well as family studies.
One of the most acclaimed and popular episodes of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” was season four’s “Hush.” While many critics praised the dialogue of the series, Joss Whedon wanted to create an episode in which it was devoid of spoken word. Out of the 44 minutes of “Hush,” only 17 include dialog, resulting in the episode being nominated for an Emmy Award “For Outstanding Writing.”
Promo for “Hush”:
“In ‘Hush,’ a group of fairy tale ghouls named ‘The Gentlemen’ come to town and steal everyone’s voices, leaving them unable to scream when The Gentlemen cut out their hearts. Buffy and her friends must communicate with one another silently as they try to discover why no one can speak and find whomever is murdering the townspeople. They must also find ways to express their feelings about each other and keep some semblance of control as the town descends into chaos. ‘Hush’ addresses the limits and assets of language and communication and the disruption to society when communication breaks down. The Gentlemen are often counted as some of the series’ most frightening villains, and the episode is frequently included on lists of the best of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'” – via Wikipedia
The series was successful enough to garner its own spinoff, “Angel.” “Angel” followed the vampire Angel (played by David Boreanaz) as he travels to Los Angeles to live his life, and fight the forces of evil. “Angel” also featured “Buffy” character Cordelia Chase ( played by Charisma Carpenter) as a lead character as she tired to make it in Hollywood as an actress, and subsequently assisting Angel on his missions. “Angel” would also feature cameos from “Buffy” characters such as Willow (played by Alyson Hannigan), Spike (played by James Marsters), and Faith (Eliza Dushku).
Eliza Dushku turned down the opportunity to have her own spinoff that would follow Faith as she traveled the country trying to find her place in life as she battled forces of evil. She turned down the spinoff as she believed it was too soon for the spinoff to occur (it was suggested following the series’ finale), and to focus on the show she was working on, “Tru Calling.” As many Buffy fans know, Faith was “called” as a Slayer following the events of Buffy’s drowning. Before Buffy was given CPR, she was technically “dead” for a minute, therefore “activating” a new slayer. That slayer was Kendra (played by Bianca Lawson). Kendra was killed, therefore “activating” Faith. Faith was considered the anti-slayer, using her power for selfish reasons, only to reform in the end and arguably become Buffy’s biggest ally.
Throughout the seven seasons of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” Buffy Summers died two times. The first time was when she drowned, therefore “activating” Faith as the new slayer (after Kendra was killed). The second time was when she sacrificed herself to save the world, and her sister, Dawn. A new slayer wasn’t “activated” seeing how Faith was still alive, and considered the “current” slayer. Buffy’s second death occurred during the season five finale, and correlated with the series shifting from The WB to UPN. When season six debuted on the UPN, it was promoted with the tag line “Buffy Lives” and only showing Buffy’s eyes in promotional posters. The tagline was meant to symbolized a new start on a new network.
The series is often ranked as one of the best television shows of all time, while the character of Buffy Summers has achieved pop culture status. The series has ranked on TV Guide’s list of “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time,” Empire’s “50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time,” on TV Guide’s “Top Cult Shows Ever,” and listed in Time magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time.”
Buffy Summers was created by Joss Whedon in order to create a strong female character, and have her be a response to the stereotypical horror female victim. While Buffy Summers fit the profile of a “helpless victim,” she was anything but that. She was depicted as a strong female character, as a leader, a fighter, and more importantly, as a crusader for female empowerment. Due to Buffy’s pop culture status, the character has ranked on Bravo’s list of “The 100 Greatest TV Characters” at number 13, ranked by Entertainment Weekly at the number three spot on their “100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years,” named the sixth “Most Memorable Female TV Character” by AOL, and AfterEllen.com listed her as number five on their “Top 50 Favorite Female TV Characters.”
Random Pop Culture Fact: Sarah Michelle Gellar did a good majority of her fight scenes on Buffy; she holds a black belt in Taekwondo.