With the ABOUT GODDAMN TIME arrival of my Amazon order (see here and here and here), I am now completely engrossed in “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Seven.” I got into Buffy (not literally, oh, but how did I hope …) my last year at Towson University. As an English major, I learned one thing quickly: most of the girls in my classes were, surprise, surprise, Buffy fans. As sort of a “this makes sense” bit, most of the guys were open to the show, too. There was this one girl I had several classes with, Jennifer Schweers — and she was always in the computer lab, too — (and I forget her name**!!!!!) but she would always come into class the day after Buffy aired, talking about the show — ranting, might be a better word — and … oh, memories.
(Y’know, sometimes I miss college, not so much for the educational aspect of it, but just for the people you meet, and especially for the creative, whacky, nutso English majors. The creative arts always get the coolest people.)
And it isn’t hard to see why. Joss Whedon is a good story-teller – he’s sarcastic, bright, and usually able to create characters who are not only interesting, but also familiar to the audience. Sure, we may not all go out and slay vampires, but most people can identify with Willow, the outcast nerd; Xander, the ‘trying to be macho’ dude with lady problems; even Buffy struggling to make ends meet, and forced to grow up and assume responsibilities above her “vampire slayer” super-hero job. I mean, could you imagine Superman working in a fast food restaraunt to pay his rent? Well, neither can I — but I can picture myself working a variety of low-paying demeaning jobs to pay my bills while I went to school.*
Yeah, the concept of the show is a bit nutty — girl gets super strength and must save the world from the evils of the “hellmouth” located beneath a high school — and if you don’t have an open mind regarding sci-fi themed shows, it probably would skip under your radar. But there’s more to Buffy than killing vampires and slaying demons, like most great dramatic television series, it’s also a soap opera. I don’t say this to demean the show, any hour long dramatic show with character arcs is certainly going to have its “soap opera” characteristics – heck, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was supremely opera-ish, especially compared to its predecessor, The Next Generation (with its infamous “reset button”).
What makes the show so attractive, beyond the usual high excellence of writing and humor (although, admittedly, sometimes it is so “tongue in cheek” its like clubbing yourself over a head with a hammer), are the themes of friendship, devotion, sacrifice. Interestingly enough, these are the same qualities that made Whedon’s short lived Firefly great.
If you’ve never watched Buffy, do yourself a favor, turn on F/X channel (#32 here in Baltimore County) in the afternoon and find out what all the fuss is about.
* Interesting side note – one semester, I worked two part time jobs and a full time job while taking 15 credits. I was very happy — and not a bit broke! — when that semester ended.
** I do remember that she wrote a 10-page for Dr. Dugas discussing the roles vampire hunters have played in entertainment, ranging from Van Helsing (not the Jackman version) through Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. I have a copy of this paper – somewhere, and if I found it, I’d probably find her name, but oh well) – and I remember she handed me a copy while I was working in Linthicum Hall’s computer lab, and a quick check through the reference sites produced NUMEROUS scholarly papers referring to Buffy as a cultural icon. And, rightly so.
PS – if you’re wondering why I wrote her name, and then said “I don’t remember her name”, it’s because I dug through a stack of notebooks and found the paper. So, Jen, if you ever google yourself and find this page, drop me a note and say hi!