Wednesday, November 23

the slayer

let us retro-actively and without too much thinking about it blame my gaggle of younger siblings for monopolizing the television back when Buffy the Vampire Slayer was on. we could also blame my tendency to read instead of watch television. or we could blame my obsession with Xena: Warrior Princess. maybe that distracted me from this other female action heroine. who knows.

anyway, I hadn't ever seen any of this Joss Whedon show until one February evening in 2013, at my very first academic conference (this one, at which I presented something about food photography on Pinterest), some of the conference organizers set up a double-header showing of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (which I had seen already at that point, and knew I would enjoy) and the musical episode of Buffy (which I knew nothing at all about ended up enjoying, more or less).

for years, people have been telling me to watch Buffy.

for years, that musical episode was the only shred of it I'd ever laid eyes on.

last July, friend Chris and I had this conversation:
me: what should i blog about?
Chris: buffy the vampire slayer.
because i watched some and i've had the theme tune in my head all day
look, friend Chris! I am blogging about Buffy, at last, 16 months later. heh. the theme tune is in my head sometimes. my brain always confuses it with this Offspring song.

a few months after that July conversation, Chris and I were discussing another of Joss Whedon's television creations, Dollhouse (which I quite liked, and characterized at the time as "sufficiently thoughtprovoking inbetween excuses-for-drama-and-excitement-and-fighting"). I recommended Dollhouse to Chris, and he took another chance to recommend Buffy to me.
Chris: you should watch buffy
me: yeah... i probably should. but will it seem way weirdly dated now?
Chris: it's seven seasons. but nobody says you have to watch them all
it is very nineties, but it also holds up very well, i think
it helps that looking a bit trashy and b-movie is a deliberate part of it
first season is okay and dumb and obvious with the teenage allegories
along with the rest of his persuasions, Chris added, "also, you liked some of joss whedon's other stuff and i'm pretty sure this is his best." now that I've watched three seasons, I don't know that I'd agree about Buffy being his best work. but I do get the overall appeal. Buffy's main characters are so unique and charming, and it does hold up pretty well for a nineties show.

fiance Jeremiah have been making our way through it a few episodes at a time. he has seen it all before, and so far he is putting up with the interruptions of my knee-jerk reactions and snarky commentary pretty well. we just finished season 3, at the end of which the whole of Sunnydale High School comes together (huzzah!) to defeat the quirky, semi-cruel, semi-bumbling villain. they survive not only all the bloodthirsty, supernatural insanity of the unfortunate town they live in, but also the terrible ups and downs of high school. how warm-fuzzy and amusing, eh?

I shall not gush unreservedly about this series, though. I do like it, and want to keep watching, but I must confess that Angel, Buffy's non-sparkly but incredibly brooding, shadowy, vampire-with-a-soul   love-interest, annoys me quite beyond my ability to explain. his character is so barely-there, so moody and vague and pointless for most of these early seasons. and friend Chris agrees with me, to some degree, that "he's a very boring twilight-y character-- two hundred years old and skulking around schoolgirls." I keep waiting for him to leave the show for good, but he probably never will. such back-and-forth heartbreaky drama and silliness. I know he pre-dates Ms. Stephanie Meyer's creations, but still. it is impossible not to see Angel and Edward as practically interchangeable.

with that exception, everyone else in the Buffy universe is at least tolerable, at best fascinating. Willow is my favourite and I am jealous of her adorable face and rockstar hair. Jenny Calendar was really cool. Spike and Drusilla make an interesting duet of villainy in season 2. I appreciate her insanity and randomness much more than I do Spike's British bravado. and thankfully, the ensemble of sidekicks rarely disappoints-- Giles and Xander and Cordelia and Oz and Faith and all of them. there is plenty of depth to the story arcs, even when they seem hokey. that's what Joss Whedon is good at, it seems-- embracing and embellishing one set of tropes while at the same time subtly subverting and skewing another set into something new.

we'll see what the next four seasons bring. 

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