Why ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ Is Still Essential To Pop Culture 20 Years Later

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
20th Century Fox

20 years ago today, Joss Whedon and Sarah Michelle Gellar graced our televisions and lives with what many consider to be the best, most essential contribution to pop culture of all time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The series that originally aired in March of 1997, began as a mid-season series for the WB that introduced us to the hellish world of high school with a twist: Sunnydale High was quite literally over the mouth of hell. The series protagonist? A young blonde girl with a destiny that required her to combat the forces of darkness while still making time for school and a social life – and when you’re that age, it already feels impossible to juggle those transitional stages. The premise of ‘Buffy’ was enough to instantly resonate with a specific age group through multiple generations, but Buffy didn’t stop with teenage tales. The series soon delved into much more mature and universal life lessons that every person could connect to at one point or another. 

What set ‘Buffy’ apart from other series and characters was that it signified that a girl who didn’t view herself as all important could take on life’s trials with the inner strength she wasn’t aware she had. Her grades weren’t the greatest but it didn’t detract from her true brilliance, she wasn’t the popular girl but people saw her for the compassionate savior she was, not to mention she had a wit and cleverness about her that only complimented her physical strength. Buffy became a pillar of inner and outer fortitude, not only for me at such a young age, but to anyone who gave the show a chance. You may be asking yourself what else makes this different than other series with morality and growing up as the focus, or maybe even those led by strong women – but before Buffy, a character like her was the helpless damsel who needed saving from the horror genre. Buffy redefined how a young woman could be portrayed in the media, a way that we need to see crafted more often. This (at the time) new inspiration extended far past young women, giving men and women of all ages courage to face their own demons (figuratively and literally if you’re a slayer.)

As the series came out of the High School setting it had been contained to, the larger changes began to take place and pushed both Buffy and the viewers out of their comfort zone. We weren’t facing the traditional nasties we had become accustomed to, it was now time to enter college and that first true spark of independence that one goes through at that age. Buffy began to feel overwhelmed by the balancing act of school, slayage and navigating through a new dating world as well as learning that being too trusting can be one’s downfall. In other ways the series tackled this real life growth, the supporting character Willow (resident witch and member of the ‘scooby gang’) escaped the overbearing family oriented life she lived and was able to explore her sexuality when she found herself falling in love with another woman (and fellow witch.) This was a major development for television, not usually allowing much to be revealed about same sex relationships – let alone their eventual kiss that is still talked about to this day. What made this feel natural was the connection they developed with the pair; it wasn’t placed in the story to turn heads, it was a pure unfiltered love at its greatest and that’s a gift that will stay with people for years to come.

As Buffy progressed to the later seasons, a return to family became focus – which is something life always comes back to. Buffy had to focus on watching over her younger sister (one of the supernatural/mystical inclusions of BTVS) that also was a rare shock to viewers of the series, given only slight indication via the show’s notorious and unrivaled foreshadowing. It took a darker turn when Buffy’s mother became ill, something completely unrelated to supernatural doings and entirely real – death and the trauma that immediately follows. The loss of her mother delivered possibly the most authentic essence of human emotion from the shock and devastation that triggers everyone to some capacity. The episode featured no music, no real supernatural plot, just 42 minutes of raw emotion that to this day hasn’t been surpassed by any other series on television – there is simply no way to recreate such a profound moment with an impact as heavy and brutal as “The Body.” That season featured another loss, the choice Buffy made to sacrifice herself to not only save her sister, but to save the world. For the first time in her experience as the slayer, Buffy felt that her ending her existence could be for the greater good and she made a sacrifice that blew viewers and critics away, but also fit the beautiful spirit of Buffy.

By the time the series had concluded on WB, BTVS had been picked up by UPN for additional seasons, having recognized the cultural phenomenon it had transpired into. Buffy not only came back to life as a series and character but it/she came back with some of the most distressing moments the series had to offer. Ultimately, the next path solidified that regardless of network or number of seasons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was far from concluding the momentous series that held plenty more lessons on humanity and how to navigate through the darkness that it can spew. In season 6, Buffy was brought back to life by Willow and the scoobies, but not without serious consequences. To begin, Buffy was ripped from heaven and spent the entire season trying to find her new purpose after feeling like she had completed her life mission. That empty feeling that followed was explored through Buffy trying to be an adult on top of feeling aimless. She returned to taking care of her sister, slinging burgers at a fast-food restaurant and beginning a destructive sexual relationship with former big-bad Spike as a shell of her former self. Buffy spent a long while trying to rediscover herself and become someone new, because that young bubbly slayer was now in a position where life changed on her and she either needed to adapt and grow or give up.

As the series once again importantly reminded us, even the strongest people have to regroup and reevaluate their lives and there is no shame in discovering who you are. This season focused a large part on self punishment, accepting what you feel you deserve and even began to explore the severity of addiction through the scope of Willow. In the early days of the show, Willow was the meek geek who wouldn’t harm a fly, but she evolved as much as the series protagonist (and every character truly) becoming a powerful witch whose love for magic began to deteriorate into a full blown addiction. Many people became angered by Willow, however, like addiction goes you begin to realize that having control over something so powerful isn’t a simple fix and occasionally asking for help is the most mature thing you can do (via Buffy/Willow in season 6.) That came to a tipping point when the climax of the season saw a seemingly average guy (who poorly hid his misogynistic outlook) with no enhanced abilities murdered Willow’s soulmate Tara and nearly killed Buffy in the process. It was unexpected, tragic and incomprehensible initially, which is exactly how life can go – but this instance was intensified by the mystical influences of Willow’s power. Willow lost herself, completely succumbing to the darkest magic in a grief stricken rage that shattered her world. The solution? There wasn’t one, which is another lesson from Buffy that stands the test of time; sometimes the only way to bounce back from loss and instability is to survive and rebuild with what you’ve experienced, helping you progress towards a more knowledgeable and hopefully self aware future.

Going into the final season of the series before tackling the comic expansion of the Buffyverse, Buffy has gone through hell and back, coming out the most levelheaded version of herself she could possibly be. Luckily for her, it was just in time to lead an army of potential slayers being threatened with extinction from the first – as in the first evil known to mankind. A foe this large put Buffy and company to the test, forging Willow’s mystical progress when she felt she couldn’t gain control again, Buffy’s ability to lead dozens of women who were where she was years prior and Spike’s ensouled conflict with accepting what he had done as a demon for two centuries. Buffy and Spike were both utterly perfect characters to use for this final chance at change, as Spike finally earned his soul on his own accord (the attempted rape scene in season 6 was his lowest moment that indicated he needed to find that spark of humanity he believed he had remaining.) Buffy on the other hand had finally found a new sense of adulthood that didn’t require her to rely on others ever again. Together, the two took television’s most tumultuous relationship and began down a path with redemption and mutual understanding. Towards the series end, Buffy and Spike share a heartwarming moment (one of multiple) that purely centers on the two proclaiming their fears and adoration in regards to one another and it captured the beauty of true love without requiring an explanation – it just told their story through their actions and proved that even the darkest moments can have a dazzling light at the end of the tunnel. 


By the end of Buffy’s seven year run, the future was unwritten and Buffy’s life was forever changed because she went from being the only chosen one to sharing her power with women around the world, encouraging them to embrace who they are and not feel alone as she had from the beginning. Buffy truly evolved from a young woman with the weight of the world on her shoulders to the strongest person television has ever seen. The heroine saved the world, her family, her friends and managed to learn countless facets about herself in the process. There may be several television shows that replicate life lessons and strong characters, but none have proven to be as timeless and inspiring as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After 20 years since the show originally aired, new fans are finding their way to the series, old fans continue to discuss and rewatch and even new stories continue to be told courtesy of the mastermind behind this television juggernaut, Joss Whedon. Anyone who has given, or will give Buffy a chance will learn that masterful, methodical storytelling is a rarity and when we find a story worth being told, it can spend an eternity impacting people of all ages and all walks of life.  From comedy, to drama, action and even horror, the series modeled life effortlessly and transcended television with superb talent from everyone involved. I sincerely know that Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be a part of my heart and a guidebook for myself and countless others for the rest of our lives.

“Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?”

The 100: 04×05, Tinder Box (Review/r

the 100

The 100’s fifth episode of the fourth season faced a potential war and a risky concept that could save humanity or cause a fan favorite their life – so let’s jump right in to an episode filled with multiple breakthroughs.

“Tinder Box” Review / Recap

The episode “Tinder Box” begins by taking us back to Octavia post battle with Azgeda who is now barely clinging to her horse – until she actually ends up falling off and passing out from the fight and falls to the ground. It is then that Illian (the grounder whose life changed due to ALIE) finds Octavia and helps her make her way to Arkadia, where Clarke performs CPR on the Blake sibling. Octavia takes a breath and has enough energy to warn Clarke and the others that war with Azgeda is approaching, their people will come for them. This notion is enough to engulf everyone with turmoil and the preparations to withstand Azgeda must become a reality. In this chaos, they try to reach Kane via radio to no response, a reminder to viewers that there is a lot going on for Skaikru.

Because Monty can’t get ahold of Kane and Bellamy’s rover is found by Jaha, concern is initiated causing Miller’s father to crave a battle without any regard for their safety or land. Clarke (being the diplomat she is) offers up an idea to open a line of communication between herself and Roan, only being backed by Monty. The idea isn’t received well, but it’s better than immediate bloodshed so Clarke goes horse bound to meet their warriors and speak with the king himself. Clarke finally gets to their location somewhere between Polis and Arkadia, but she’s greeted by archers ready to end her existence. She asks to speak to Roan for a few minutes max but he’s not as interested in talking. Fortunately for Clarke, her people cover Roan in sniper lasers and they both know there is going to be a brief standstill.

Shortly after, Roan tells his people to bring Kane and Bellamy (hostages of a new war) to the forefront in an attempt to show them what is at stake. The meeting between both leaders gives them some privacy in a nearby cave just after Monty convinced Riley to hold off on revenge-killing Roan for his own suffering. Clarke wants to know what could have made him go back on their truce to which he says is credited to his new knowledge of the ship. Clarke reinforces that it is only a backup plan capable of saving 100 people, but the nightblood could be the key to everyone’s survival somehow. She promises she isn’t trying to overthrow him with a new leader because the chip is gone (imagine how much trust he’ll lose when Octavia shares the truth.) Roan tells Clarke a harsh truth regarding the woman she loved, saying that Lexa knew how to put loyalty over clan – and that she needs to figure that out for herself too.

The words resonate with Clarke apparently, because she offers up 50 spots to Azgeda and the other 50 to Skaikru, a split divide to appease both and avoid bloodshed. Even though they take an oath that should stop fighting, Riley has disappeared and Monty is forced to tell Echo about his plan to kill their current king. Bellamy uses the opportunity to get out of being a prisoner and give his aid to Echo in the search for Riley. When they find the young man, he is prepping to kill Roan and Echo readies herself to kill him. Bellamy begs that she doesn’t become a murderer from war but Riley eases the decision by putting his gun down and keeping his own hand clean (for the time being.)

Elsewhere, queen Octavia (nickname from me, not an official title) awakens to find Niylah taking care of her injuries and asks how she ended up back at the ship. When Niylah tells her about Illian, Octavia instantly worries about what the others should have worried about before fleeing and leaving him alone in their tech-heavy ship. By the time they find him, he is just about ready to burn down the ship and he succeeds at annihilating their only current option to withstand the radiation storm sweeping their way. Everyone comes back after postponing war to see their ship torched to the ground, so the nightblood option becomes their only option to stay alive.

In the lab that ALIE/Becca has created, Abby works had to find an alternative way to fuse nightblood with their own and recreate it, but Raven gets caught up enjoying some flight time. In reality, Raven has a seizure that Abby helps her through, yet Raven is convinced she actually just was given a brilliant idea. Raven shares that because they used an EMP to remove ALIE from her brain, fragments remain and because of the constant thought process she seized (as a normal human couldn’t handle that much brain activity) but the solution: Becca needed to go to space (I won’t pretend to have Raven’s brain) in zero gravity to bond the blood. Luckily, Becca had a small ship with functionality to return to space so Raven volunteers to set out for space with Abby. Jackson stops them both and says Raven is showing signs of a stroke and a CT scan proves she has black spotting beginning to cover her brain. Raven insists she will give her life to save the others if needed, so Jackson reminds Abby she received the EMP too. Abby says she’ll watch for symptoms, but the moment she’s alone she sees a blistered Clarke adding pressure to finding a cure for what’s to come. Better work quickly people, the clock is ticking!

Overall Grade: 8.5/10

Raven seems to be evolving and crumbling simultaneously which makes for a fascinating line to tow as one of the series best characters, who also happens to be the brains behind the operation. Clarke made (another) decision to avoid conflict, but in doing so she has ignited a spark that could cause Arkadia to crumble as a unit -I just hope to see Clarke finally realize that she isn’t the single person capable of leading Arkadia . Five episodes in and The 100 remains one of television’s most consistently impressive series.

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

– Raven for new leader of Arkadia

-RIP to the Ark portion of Ark-adia, but kudos to the scene where we watch it go out in a blaze. 

– Octavia surviving and being the only person to have suspicions about Illian is another reason to praise the relentlessness of the youngest Blake sibling.

– A (short) return to space could be a nice change of pace after focusing solely on Earth for awhile.

– I’m happy that Niylah has been able to stick around, she’s a pleasant surprise when she appears.

 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Gets New Merchandise For Its 20th Anniversary

buffy the vampire slayer
Fox

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – for those of you who don’t know the name, you are either a pop-culture recluse or in desperate need of some supernatural goodness in your existence. The cult classic series (helmed by Joss Whedon and starring the talented Sarah Michelle Gellar) will come up on it’s 20th anniversary on March 10, so Fox has decided to grace the dedicated fan base with new exclusive merchandise ranging from new clothing, comic books, books, stationary, board games and even more! BTVS rightfully earns the special treatment after showcasing the struggles of growing up, transitioning to adulthood and all the curveballs life can throw our way – with a supernatural twist.  Though the series has been off the air for years (she was slaying before any pop-star used the word) it has lived on through the collector’s DVD sets, streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, or even the comic book continuation that takes place shortly after the series concluded. Buffy has been and always will be around, so what better way to celebrate than to enjoy some new Buffy goodies to excite our inner-Scooby?

buffy the vampire slayer

Hot Topic / Fox

Fox Consumer Products launched a partnership with various companies to sweeten the deal and expand the exclusives, some of which include new Buffy the Vampire Slayer clothes. Hot Topic has designed a special line of Buffy-inspired items, beginning with Buffy’s “Graduation Day” blood-red trench coat, Willow’s “Dopplegangland” frilly sweater and even Faith’s recurring black leather jacket to channel your rebel slayer persona. Ripple Junction has provided their own line of Buffy tees for men and women, with a limited sale on the items up until March 10. The store Box Lunch will additionally sell items centered around Buffy (shirts, jewelry, etc.) that launch on the 10th itself.

buffy the vampire slayer

Dark Horse / Fox

On the other end of the spectrum, a large amount of Buffy comics will be available through Dark Horse Comics which is the company behind seasons 8-11 (season 11 is currently being published.) Dark Horse will release an omnibus version of season 8 that includes several volumes in one bundle to ease the reading process or join your BTVS collection. The series is produced by Joss himself, another reason to catch up and find out where your favorites are now –  I can personally promise it’s a major treat to all BTVS lovers. The publishing company will include two new adult coloring books to embrace your inner Giles art (hardcore fans will catch that one) with scenes inspired by the series and comics.

A few different publishers (Simon & Schuster, Insight Editions and Harper Design) have a few Buffy related books down the pipeline, from a collection of Buffy handbooks with spells and mystical focus – to an encyclopedia to the Buffyverse (and that is simply a few of several in the works.)  If you are looking for more action, look no further! Jasco has released a Buffy board game that uses a multiplayer function for people to battle major villains of the franchise (here on Amazon) and Legendary will be releasing a deck-building card game where teamwork is key (available August 2017.)

Fox will be revealing more items as they are released throughout the year, but with this much focus on the Buffyverse, this 20th anniversary (still utterly shocked it’s been 20 years) will be a glorious one – Buffy the Vampire Slayer only gets better with age!

Make sure to share your thoughts on the  marvelous anniversary as well as your favorite Buffy moments with the hashtag #BuffySlays20 on social media.