As television barrelled forward this week with its usual batch of Idol frenzy dolloped with the odd mid-March rerun, primetime silently, but powerfully celebrated an anniversary.
One of the greatest shows ever created – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, turned 10 this week, with just enough fanfare and genre-hopping surprise (see it’s season 8 comic-book return) to keep it’s true fans panting for more. Now anyone that reads my work will know I have a soft spot for Buffy, a show widely believed to be a launching ground for much of the big hits on TV today. In fact, critics, creators, and academics alike gush about the show regularly, allowing it to fittingly carve out an even larger crater in popular culture posthumously than it did when it was on air.
But what was it about this show, beyond it’s another-league intelligence, beyond it’s iconicity, and it’s self-professed dash of girl power that made it the kind of program we celebrate every opportunity we get? What makes people like me chase out multiple copies of a newspaper that honoured it’s big 1-0 desperately, almost embarrassingly?
What is it that makes it so, excuse the pun, immortal?
It’s simple really, albeit cliche. Buffy wasn’t a show. Not in the way that most shows are – created as a means to an end, to fulfill a trend, or allow a network to cash in on a big hit (The WB, the poorest of the network bunch back in 1997, only barely let it debut midseason.) It wasn’t the kind of fiction that was fruitless or flashy, frivolous or flavourless. It was the kind of writing that was human. It lived (season 1), breathed (season 2), stumbled (season 4), fell (season 6) and grew (season 5 and 7) with us. It was the kind of fiction that was inspired by the thick skin we all develop going through all of life’s ups and downs; the kind than that never leaves us – well, until we die. But on Buffy even that wasn’t enough.
We may never slay a vampire, or stab our true love through the stomach because we had to ‘save the world’ but the neat, and undeniably ironic thing about Buffy is that it always made it seem like we had. We don’t slay, but we do fight, and we don’t kill but we do ache for a release. We make sacrifices, and we give up or sometimes, however shakily, stand strong. And yet every teen show out there, on their high horse of pop-gloss fashion, small town rich-kid hierarchies and preconceived notions of adolescence, missed the humanity of it all. They made us ache for something more rather than helping us celebrate what we are. Maybe that’s why we celebrate Buffy still. Somewhere in her world of demon-ridden dilemmas and magical spells, we came alive. Scoff at it all you must, but Buffy’s humanity will let her thrive far longer than any of us can imagine.
Ten years ago we walked in stride with a slayer. Ten years from now we will still be. I give you my word.
An F-Rate for Buffy – it will last Forever.