Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a girl who nobody took seriously, but who had the weight of the world on her shoulders. And she had the powers and strength we all wanted. However, the real power was in the show itself, the themes running through it, and the power it held and still holds over me.
Over seven seasons, I watched Buffy and the ‘Scooby gang’ develop and grow as people, (and witches, slayers, werewolves, demons and vampires). Over seven seasons I grew with them, understanding and relating to their plights, relationships, and unofficially declaring myself as part of the group. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, as a programme, became a very special part of my life, and has stayed with me 20 years on.
At the time, when the programme was in full force, it was difficult to understand the effect that it was having on my life and my persona. I never related to just one character. I never wanted to be Buffy and Buffy only. As I have gotten older, I understand that it was because every character and their encompassing actions, nurtured the person I was turning out to be.
From Buffy: her reluctance to let go completely. Her hesitation and fear, leading to relationships with Spike, and Faith. She wanted to let go, and these were the people to help her do it. She broke the rules, consistently. Rules that were written for her, without her consent. She died, and she came back (twice). She fell in love with vampires, went to school and university, and she fired her watchers. Buffy did things on her terms, and she was better off for it. Though tough lessons were fought along the way, she survived, and to me that’s what the programme became about. A young girl. An outsider who felt isolated and alone, but survived, and who realised she was going to win!
To Willow: who literally blossomed from the typical geeky, bullied at school kid, to a (literal) powerful woman who wasn’t afraid to explore her sexuality, fall in love or show her feelings. Willow battled addiction and, though it was magic and witchcraft, it showcased the damage addiction can do. Dark Willow- who she turned into after the loss of Tara- was a metaphor for deep dark loss, addiction and entering a dark place. A place from which only true love can bring you back.
This was one of my favourite episodes, as it gave Xander a chance to be a hero. He came of age in this episode. He always struggled to fit in, as he didn’t have a special power. No super strength and wasn’t the luckiest in love, (and the irony of him being attracted to demons, and then falling in love with one wasn’t lost on us). But the scene where he brings Willow back from the brink of no return, by simply telling her he loves her and allowing her to accept her feelings showcased the power of humanity and empowerment. Xander was the ultimate feminist.
Even the changes that Anya went through, adjusting from demon, to human, to a human in love, to a demon with humanity. Understanding these different stages of life, and learning to adapt to them, we can all relate to. Growing up- having no worries other than yourself, to suddenly having to deal with feelings and responsibility, and realising there is no going back no matter how hard you try, is something we all go through.
For me, Buffy is about dealing with the challenges of growing up, even as a 28 year old, I am still learning, changing and growing. The programme, and it’s characters still hugely influence me 20 years on. The ‘Scooby gang’ taught me how to face my problems, overcome them and the value of good friendships. Buffy empowered me, and showed me what can happen when you rewrite the rules. The programme reminds me of the power of continuing to fight, both for my own individual survival and for the world that I want to live in. And that’s a beautiful thing.