Back in 1997, I didn’t have cable television. I had a hand-me-down TV with an antenna. I got ABC (sort of), CBS, CPTV, NBC and Fox. There were two new networks that I didn’t get, the WB and UPN. I was really bummed that I didn’t get UPN. Star Trek Voyager was on that channel and I’m a big Trek fan. I was able to catch episodes here and there, but I missed a bunch. All I knew about the WB network was that it had a weird singing frog. I didn’t care that I didn’t get it.
In just a little while, though, my friends started talking about this show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They loved it. Several friends that I trust on these sorts of things said it was their all time favorite show. I was curious, but I didn’t get the station it was on, so I never watched it.
Now, through the magic of Hulu, I am able to watch it, so I decided to give it a shot. I knew almost nothing about it going in. I assumed it was about a girl named Buffy who slays vampires. I also knew that Alyson Hannigan, who I really liked in How I Met Your Mother, was in it. Way back when the show was at its peak popularity, Anthony Stewart Head did an appearance in the bookstore I worked at. I didn’t really know who he was, but I found out from that experience that he was on Buffy and apparently did some famous coffee commercials. And I had heard that feminists really like the show. That’s all I knew.
I don’t really know what I was expecting, but the show definitely is not what I was expecting. It’s like some weird combination of the original Star Trek, Friends and The X Files. The Friends comparison is really just Xander. It’s like the director asked him to do a Chandler Bing impersonation with all of his lines. But like Star Trek, it’s got a solid combination of earnestness and camp. And like The X Files, it’s a mix of serialization and stand alone episodes and it’s downright bonkers half the time.
I do have a few complaints. I hate the theme song. It sounds like what I would do if someone asked me to parody a punk song. The body count is wicked high. It’s hard to maintain my willing suspension of disbelief that any parent would allow their kids to attend Sunnydale High. I’m a bit disappointed in the feminism that I was expecting. Maybe my expectations were set too high, but I feel like Buffy winds up being a damsel in distress needing to be rescued by one of the male characters just a bit too often. And pairing Buffy and Angel romantically is just creepy. Not in the good, I’m watching a horror movie kind of way. It’s just plain creepy. In the show he’s 241 years old and she’s 16. But even if you assume he stopped aging when he became a vampire, that puts him about 30. Anyway, seeing them together in that way creeps me out.
Otherwise, I’m enjoying the show. I think I’ll keep watching. I don’t get why it would be anyone’s favorite show, but it’s solid enough. And I have a ways to go. Maybe it will improve with time. I’m only twenty years too late, but I’m finally going to see what all my friends were talking about.