Grab your stakes and holy water, it’s time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
The cult sci-fi drama created by Joss Whedon starring Sarah Michelle Gellar debuted 20 years ago March 10 on the WB, and despite being two decades old the show is as meaningful as ever.
How can a ‘90s series about vampires and demons be so relevant, you ask? Read on.
“BUFFY” HELPED BRING VAMPIRE SHOWS AND CULTURE INTO MAINSTREAM
Are you a fan of “Twilight,” “The Vampire Diaries” or “True Blood”? If so, you have “Buffy” (among others) to thank for their existence. Vampires, demons and werewolves were not a very well-known pop culture trope before “Buffy.” Her boyfriend Angel (David Boreanaz) was a vampire, her best friend Willow (Alyson Hannigan) was a witch and she hung out with a werewolf named Oz (Seth Green). “Buffy” knew how to include all sci-fi characters (yes, even zombies). However, after the popularity of “Buffy” (and other sci-fi series, we’re looking at you, “The X-Files”) vampire and sci-fi television shows became the new normal.
THE SERIES SPARKED MODERN MUSICAL EPISODES
Do you love it when your favorite television show has that special episode where characters randomly burst into song? Again, you have “Buffy” to thank for bringing the TV musical episode into modern day. If you haven’t seen the iconic episode “Once More With Feeling” yet, please stop reading and immediately watch (here is a sneak peek). If you have seen it, you know just how amazing the episode is and how all other TV shows strive to reach its heights.
GROUNDBREAKING LGBTQ CHARACTERS BECAME PART OF THE SHOW
When “Buffy” began, LGBTQ characters were few and far between on television (“Will & Grace” debuted a year after in 1998). Although, Willow (Alyson Hannigan), the main LGBTQ character did not come out until the 4th season of the show in 1999-2000, the existence of a LGBTQ main character, showing her struggle of coming out and portraying her as just a regular person was extremely important to the LGBTQ community and also future LGBTQ characters in television. Thanks to “Buffy” and other groundbreaking TV shows and characters, LGBTQ characters are now are now part of many shows and not a novelty.
MANY OF THE TV SHOWS YOU LOVE TODAY STARRED A WHEDONVERSE STAR
Are you a “How I Met Your Mother,” “Bones,” “Castle” or “Person of Interest” fan? Well, some of the stars of those shows got their start in the Whedonverse! If you are Joss Whedon fan, you know that his TV universe all stemmed from “Buffy.” “Buffy” was his first show, which was followed by the spin-off “Angel,” and then “Firefly,” “Dollhouse” and web sensation “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.” Alyson Hannigan (“Buffy”), David Boreanaz (“Buffy” and “Angel”), Amy Acker (“Angel” and “Dollhouse”), Nathan Fillion (“Buffy,” “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” and “Firefly”), Neil Patrick Harris (“Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”) and more all came from the Whedonverse to star in some of the most popular TV shows of recent times. Now is as good a time as any to revisit their roots and binge some Whedonverse shows. May I suggest starting with “Buffy”?
FEMINISM AND GIRL POWER WERE CENTRAL THEMES
One of the most important aspects of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is how empowering it is for women. Not only is the superhero a woman, but she is also a popular, blonde teenage girl who takes on vampires and demons while always providing a sassy comeback. Buffy Summers showed generations of women that they can conquer any demons whether they are real or internal. In a time when TV shows seemed to always portray women as damsels in distress or victims, Buffy was the woman who would walk into a dangerous situation willingly and walk out victorious. She is the superhero that women needed then and still need now.
“BUFFY” FEATURED INNOVATIVE STORYTELLING
If you think of the best “Buffy” episodes, three should immediately stand out: “Hush,” “The Body,” and “Once More With Feeling.” “Hush” was the Emmy-nominated and pretty terrifying silent episode starring the (creepy) fairy-tale characters The Gentlemen. If you are wondering how a silent TV episode would work and how it would keep your interest, give “Hush” a watch — you won’t be able to tear your eyes away. “The Body” is one of many heartbreaking episodes that deals with a main character’s death, but the lack of music and emphasis on dialogue (as well as Sarah Michelle Gellar’s stellar performance) make this episode a must-see. And the aforementioned “Once More With Feeling” is the theatrical and amazing musical episode that started a trend.
All episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” are available to stream on Netflix and Hulu, so get your binge on.
This post was originally published as "Why 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' still matters 20 years later" by .