I was 15 when Buffy Summers first backflipped, punched and stabbed her way onto my television screen, protecting her loved ones from evil and taking on the world’s darkness, in the cutest of outfits, with the cleverest of quips. I’m…older now, but she is still, to this day, one of my favourite female television characters of all time.
You see, Buffy was strong. Buffy was POWERFUL. She could kick the shit out of demons and vamps and still have perfect hair afterwards. She was also funny, smart, selfless and a fiercely loyal friend. Buffy was the kind of girl you wanted to be. And yet – wasn’t she also the kind of girl you were? You see, slayer superpowers aside, Buffy was a regular girl. She too was scared and confused, trying to figure out who she was and who she wanted to be. Wanting so desperately to fit in and be normal but always feeling like an outsider. Dealing with the pressures and total suckiness of high school. Finding and losing her first love. Buffy went through all the same things most teenage girls do. Except on a much grander scale, ‘cause as much as my high school was hell, Buffy’s really was Hell. No, like her high school building actually sat on top of the entrance to Hell. The monsters that Buffy would fight throughout the show stood as metaphors for the issues and anxieties that so kindly came with growing up. She confronted her emotional demons by literally confronting physical ones.
So I related to Buffy because there were parts of her that were just like parts of me. But she was also someone I looked up to because other parts of her were parts that I quietly wished were parts of me. She was also a reminder – as I too got a little overwhelmed by how hard life was sometimes – that I would, eventually, be ok. Because if Buffy could deal with that much (she had her heart broken, people around her died, she even died a couple of times and that was in addition just killing vampires, kiiiind of a big deal in and of itself), if she could take on everyone else’s problems on top of her own, if she could save the world over and over again and STILL laugh, love and quip? Then I could too. No matter how hard it got.
Buffy was the first tv character that I remember to celebrate female power, the having it and the using of it. She showed us that we too could be powerful, could overcome our obstacles, fight life’s battles. And not in like a preachy Oprah way, in a more accessible way because she did it alongside us. She grew up with us as well as in front of us, helping us fight our demons while fighting her own.
She helped us find our own inner slayers.
Awesome Buffy-centric episodes (spoiler alert):
Season One, Episode One: Welcome to the Hellmouth - Our first introduction to Buffy, your typical pretty blonde teenage girl with a ditzy name who should, by all manner of appearances, be the airhead that gets murdered within the first ten minutes of the horror movie. Except PSYCHE STEREOTYPE, she’s the heroine and as much as she just wants to be normal, she has to come to terms with the fact that she definitely isn’t.
Season 2, Episodes 13 & 14: Surprise/Innocence - Buffy loses her virginity to Angel, her first boyfriend and big love, and he in turn loses his soul and becomes an evil vampire hell-bent on torturing and killing her and her friends. The classic girl-has-sex-with-sweetest-seeming-guy-ever-and-then-afterwards-discovers-he’s-a-monster thing taken one step further… because in this case he’s literally a monster.
Season 2, Episode 22: Becoming (Part 2) - Buffy has to end her relationship with Angel once and for all, to stop him from trying to murder everyone she knows.
Season 3, Episode 20: Prom - Buffy gets recognized by her entire high school graduating class for saving their lives over and over again. She gets a glittery umbrella as a gift and the title of “Class Protector.”
Season 5, Episode 16: The Body - Buffy deals with the death of someone very close to her.
Season 5, Episode 22: The Gift - Buffy sacrifices her life to save the world.
Season 6, Episode 7: Once More With Feeling - A musical episode (!) that deals with the aftermath of Buffy’s death. No but guys: a musical episode.
Season 7, Episode 22: Chosen - The series finale, in which Buffy and her friends take on the Hellmouth for the last time.
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