My parents love telling me all about how, in the first grade, I was called on to tell every student (and their parents) what my favorite TV show was. The adults were left aghast when I said it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I mean, a first grader watching a show with death, blood, sex, and other assorted acts of debauchery? Scandalous! But it isn’t hard to impress a first-grader, and now, as an adult, does Buffy the Vampire Slayer still light up the “entertainment” section of my brain like a halogen bulb? Well… sort of. Nostalgia does wonders for the show, but even without rose-tinted lenses, Buffy the Vampire Slayer can still stand as a legitimately fun show.
The titular Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is the Slayer, a girl imbued with supernatural strength to use in battle with the forces of evil. With her pals Willow (Alyson Hannigan), Xander (Nicholas Brendon), and Giles (Anthony Head), she does her darnedest to protect her hometown of Sunnydale (and sometimes, the whole world) from destruction.
The basic plot pitch won’t win any awards, but what makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer so enjoyable is its mix of dark seriousness and late-nineties campiness. On the one hand, Buffy and her friends regularly find themselves fighting for their lives against violent monsters. But on the other hand, Xander’s always present to drop a clever little quip or pop culture reference, like saying “I laugh in the face of danger… then I hide until it goes away,“ or, “this was no boating accident” when the gang finds a slain member of the Sunnydale High School swim team.
It’s this mix of silliness and seriousness that gives Buffy the Vampire Slayer its unique flavor, and it helps support the show throughout its seven seasons. The show never seems to run dry of clever ideas, like an episode that’s actually a musical, or a demon who’s terrified of bunnies.
On the other hand, the show’s attempts at adding a romantic subplot usually fail to impress. Different love interests for Buffy cycle in and out of the show, and they rarely add to the show’s entertainment factor in any meaningful way. That said, there was one particular episode that centered around one of Buffy’s love interests that deserves special mention for, if nothing else, its creativeness. In the episode “Where the Wild Things Are,” Buffy and her then-boyfriend have so much ferociously enthusiastic sex that it awakens a sexually frustrated poltergeist, and no, you didn’t misread the first half of this sentence. But that’s the single most creative use of Buffy’s love interests in the show, and apart from that, they only become major to the plot when the writers decide that they needed an emergency injection of cheap drama.
When you get down to it, Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn’t an artistic triumph, or a generation-defining work. It’s a simply an entertaining show, and you know what? That’s great. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has its faults, but it manages to entertain throughout its seven seasons, and that’s an accomplishment worth praising.
*Images from fanpop.com, video from Buffyverse trailers