Since this year marks the 20th year since the release of Joss Whedon’s seminal series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I thought it time to rewatch the series. This time, though, I’m watching it with my wife Jan.
I should explain that I watched the series twice, each time with one of my daughters. We overlapped a bit, but effectively, think of it as two viewings. I have very fond memories of watching with Elizabeth and Emily. Buffy showed how girls and women could take control of their lives, be the hero, be the villain, be in control, but never give up the female side of their psyche.
My wife, Jan, never warmed up to it at the time, having the tendency to wander in during the most intense bouts of on-screen violence. Later, she somehow grew to like the Buffy spinoff series Angel, but never came back to rewatch the original. The twentieth anniversary of Buffy made it a good excuse to get her to watch with me.
As it turns out, she’s really enjoying it. We just wrapped up watching season 1. I won’t say she loved it, but Jan’s definitely having a good time.
As it turns out, I’m the one surprised. I find myself amazed at just how well the series holds up against modern television. Sure, you see anachronisms, such as lack of cell phones (mostly) early on, cars lacking keyless entry, CRT monitors on PCs, but those are easy to overlook. The writing and the stories hold up amazingly well. Even in the also-ran episodes (Witch, Never Kill a Boy on the First Date), the dialog remains sharp and smart.
The episode that really hit home for me, though, turned out to be I Robot, You Jane. I cringed inwardly when we first started watching it, but as the episode continued, Stephen Posey’s story seemed downright prescient. The demon Moloch, literally scanned into a computer network, seemed like a stand-in for every misogynistic stalker on the Internet today. You could almost say it was “ripped from the headlines”, except that it’s a TV story written in 1997.
So here’s my toast to Joss Whedon, the showrunners, cast, crew, and writers of Buffy the Vampier Slayer. The show remains one of the best TV series ever made: tragic, funny, poignant, and ever observant of the human condition.