The Importance of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
Around once every year or so, when I’m sick of watching QI repeats and desperately trying to procrastinate, there’s one series I will always turn to – Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
If you’ve never seen it, firstly – where have you been?! And secondly – you should definitely get onto that! I was obsessed with this show when I was a kid – it had action, monsters and a timeless romance to rival that of Ross and Rachel. Buffy was such an influence on me as a young girl that I made the always terrible decision to give myself the Buffy haircut – all evidence has since been destroyed. But aside from my bad fashion choices, Buffy had a very positive influence on young girls as the powerful female icon we’d all been waiting for.
A badass vampire slayer just trying to live an ordinary life whilst going to school on top of a hellmouth, what more could you want? Well, a well-rounded leading female character for one, which thankfully Buffy definitely was. Diverse and intelligent female leading characters weren’t all that common in the 90’s and unfortunately, they aren’t even that common in today’s society, but Buffy Summers signified a move to a more realistic image of women on screen (apart from the vampire slaying stuff). She was independent and tough, but also sometimes sensitive and stubborn, she wasn’t a piece of arm candy or a damsel in distress that needed to be saved, she was more than perfectly capable of saving herself.
And who wouldn’t want to be in Buffy’s “scooby gang”? A fiercely loyal friend and selfless to a fault, Buffy was always putting others before herself, and not just her friends, but the entire fate of the world (try and top that if you can). But it wasn’t just Buffy who was a full and rich female character, pretty much all of the female characters were wildly different and distinct, flawed and fascinating. Take Willow Rosenberg, Buffy’s best friend, for instance – she started out as a meek and mild highschooler, afraid to step out of her comfort zone and constantly bullied, but as the series progressed Willow flourished and changed. She developed her own interests, she fell in love, and struggled with her sexuality, which then lead to one of the first portrayals of a same-sex couple on television.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, what about that Angel guy, he was a pretty dominant male character who Buffy becomes kind of infatuated with. Well yeah, there were romances, to omit romance would be to miss out a huge chunk of life, it’s the way you portray the relationship that counts. The important thing was that her character was never defined by her love life, she was always defined by her actions and the choices she made. And come one, there’s nothing wrong with a good love story.
A tough vampire slaying teen was my first glimpse at a truly powerful female TV character. Buffy will always be relevant to me and I’m guessing to many others out there too. So I guess this was some sort of love letter to Buffy Summers, an enduring feminist icon.