Has it really been 19 years?

Time to get a little weepy eyed y’all. One of the best television shows I’ve ever watched has its 19th anniversary today. On March 10, 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted. Now, I didn’t start watching the show until the sixth season. If I recall correctly, the first I saw of the show was part two of the Season 3 finale (I remember watching the Mayor transform into a giant snake and start eating students). Years later, I happened to watch the final episode of Season 5, ‘The Gift’, where the Slayer sacrifices her life to save her sister Dawn and the entire world (the second time she died). I didn’t have any real attachment to the show at that point, but when I discovered FX was running repeats, I started watching it from some point in Season 1. Despite the uneven quality, the cheesiness, the ‘making shit up on the fly’ nature of the show, and other issues, I found myself liking it. By the second season I found I really liked it. By the time ‘Becoming Part 2’ was over, I was in tears and loving the show (in part bc Sarah McLachlan’s song was perfect for that ending). Sarah Michelle Gellar took to Instagram with some touching words about the show:

In honor of the show, here are four of my favorite episodes:

Season 4’s ‘The Body‘:

This is the episode where Buffy comes home and finds her mother dead. The entire cast was working on all cylinders for this episode. Joyce’s death was treated respectfully and the diverse range of reactions of the characters on the show was extremely believable. My hat goes off to Emma Caulfied’s ‘Anya’. Caulfield’s character, who at the time was still somewhat new to humanity, was almost childlike in her [lack of] understanding of death. Despite the fact that she doled out death to many during her days as a vengeance demon, Anya never experienced death from the perspective of a [relatively] powerless human being who had become attached to another human being. To her, she couldn’t process it, couldn’t accept it, and really had no way of comprehending it. She offered the perspective a young child might have about the death of someone they love. And the way the other characters became exasperated at her was also believable.  Such a damn good episode.

Season 2’s ‘Becoming pt. 2‘:

The stakes had rarely been higher on the show. Here was Buffy’s final battle against her ex-beau and first love, Angel, who’d lost his soul due to a moment of happiness he shared with Buffy and was now the vicious, sadistic demon Angelus. Buffy struggled for many episodes to deal with her boyfriend having become a horrible, shitty person, which was a pretty good metaphor for someone choosing to have sex with someone, only to discover they don’t give a shit about you afterwards, and in fact, go on to make your life a living hell. The twist at the end-Buffy has to kill a re-ensouled Angel to save the world from getting swallowed up by the demon Acathla and sent to hell-was so tragic. As I said upthread, the music was just so touching and apropos. Even now, having seen that episode who knows how many times, once I hear that music, the goosebumps overtake me, I get a few chills, and my eyes play a game of “let’s start tearing up”.

Season 6’s ‘Once More, With Feeling

I’m usually not a fan of musicals. It’s a whole thing with my brain and music. When I listen to music on the radio or online or on a cd, I don’t usually process what’s being said fully. I kinda go with the flow and a song will grab me or it won’t. I have to consciously make an effort to listen to what’s being said, and drown out distractions (such as the instruments or any other noise). But doing so takes some effort-enough that I cannot really enjoy the song. This becomes even bigger a problem when I watch a movie or tv show told in a musical format, bc in addition to having to concentrate on the lyrics to know what is being conveyed, I’m also paying attention to the actors. It’s a lot to take in and I’ve never been successful at it. In fact, it’s too much of a hassle, so I tend to stay away from musicals (movies with subtitles are also problematic for me for the same reasons). But this episode was a little different. Like most of Season 6, when I first viewed it, I wasn’t thoroughly impressed. I originally thought it was too dark, and that the musical episode was silly. But as I watched it over and over again, and bought the cd (yes, there’s a ‘Once More With Feeling’ soundtrack), I found myself really liking the episode, bc while on the surface, a musical episode might seem out of place on such a show, the unorthodox nature of this episode allowed the creators to explore a genre they hadn’t before, allowed the actors to express their acting in ways they hadn’t before (and allowed them to explore their singing talents or lack thereof), and still pushed the themes of the season forward. I couldn’t say which song is my favorite (just like I can’t rank my favorite B:TvS shows), but one of them is

Season 4’s ‘Hush

Can’t even shout.
Can’t even cry.
The Gentlemen are coming by.
Looking in windows,
knocking on doors…
They need to take seven
and they might take yours…
Can’t call to mom.
Can’t say a word.
You’re gonna die screaming
but you won’t be heard.

The Gentlemen were Creepy. As. Fuck. To be honest, they were some of best/scariest monsters the show ever had, IMO.

Feel free to share your favorite episodes in the comments!

Also, if you’re interested in the further adventures of Buffy and the Scooby Gang, Dark Horse Comics has been publishing Joss Whedon-approved, in-canon additional seasons. They’re currently on Season 10, and just got approved for Season 11 (which will start later this year). Check your local comic shop if you want physical copies, or Comixology (it’s a great app), if you want to read it online.

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Has it really been 19 years?
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10 thoughts on “Has it really been 19 years?

  1. 1

    I actually watched from the beginning. Giles slammed that big book of monsters on his desk, and I was hooked.

    Some of my favorites, in addition to yours, are “School Hard” (Spike!), and “Pangs” (Ritual Sacrifice With Pie is now a family tradition), “Primeval” and “Restless” from Season 4.

  2. 2

    Oh, wow! I bet you knew I’d weigh in on this one.

    I was very sporadic about my viewing too. I didn’t get emotionally invested until sometime in the middle of season three.

    These are all my favorites, along with a few others, like The Body, which, as the eldest daughter of a single mom, I was only able to watch twice in the history of the series. My mom was dealing with the first of many hospital stays at that time, so when it comes to that episode, I can’t even, but I still love it.

    I also liked Tabula Rasa, The Gift, which makes me cry every time I hear that music (I bought the soundtrack, too) and the last battle in the series finale.

    Until Buffy, I had watched a hell of a lot of genre TV, but no other show had me as emotionally invested as this one. It was funny, tragic, horrifying, had a serial quality to the stories, the stories didn’t just start all over next week (thats what made Star Trek The Next Gen so frustrating to watch), there were repercussions from the character’s past decisions and people paid for their mistakes and had real character arcs.

    I’ve measured every other show since then to this show.

  3. 3

    I was there from the beginning. Hadn’t seen the movie beforehand, so I came in clean.

    I loved the interplay between the characters. I think the beginning of the second episode cemented it for me.

    “I tracked them to the edge of the cemetary, but from there, zoom.”

    “They can fly?”

    “They can drive.”

    Wait, maybe it was when Buffy said, “Doesn’t it make you go, ‘Ooo?’?”

    I don’t know that I necessarily have favorite episodes, but I have many favorite scenes.

    “Who whatting how with the huh?”

    “Oh gosh, look at those.”

    But my all time favorite scene brings tears to my eyes. Every. Fucking. Time.

    It was fucking perfect for the series at the time, and for every character in the series at the time. “Lowest Mortality Rate.”

  4. 4

    You are so right! I don’t think people realize just how influential this series was. Not only did it impact how other series are written, but the the attitudes and vocabulary of the show made its way into mainstream culture. There’d be no shows like iZombie, Supernatural and others, were it not for Buffy.

    The use of words and language in the series inspired its own book, and a lot of people who have never watched the show, picked up the habit of making words mean whatever they needed them to mean at the moment, or just making up words to suit whatever purpose it’s needed , like using adjectives as nouns, for example.

    One of my all time favorite phrases in Buffydom (See?)
    “Who Xander? Oh, he is the deadest man in Deadonia!”

  5. 5

    Oh, I forgot one. I liked Dopplegangland!

    Lkeke:
    You’re so right about the influence of the show. All the reasons you list for liking it are ones I share. I’ve also over the years, added certain lines of dialogue from the show into my speech patterns. I’ve said ‘I’m five by five’ (Faith in my favorite character on the show), ‘that’s about the it’, ‘my life happens on occasion to suck beyond the telling of it’, and others.
    Also, for me, it cannot be understated just how important the serialized storytelling was to my enjoyment of the show. As you say, unlike the Star Trek shows to that point, Buffy was very much telling stories over an entire season, with the characters growing and developing over the course of seven years. Buffy, Willow, Giles, and Xander are in vastly different places by the end of S7 than they were when we first met them in S1.

  6. 6

    barkeeperin:
    I had to click on that link, and sure enough, it’s a scene that also brings me to tears. I love that FOR ONCE, Buffy got to feel loved and appreciated. It came at the perfect time too, given the events of that episode.

  7. 7

    I loved the show, but I don’t think I’d be able to watch the whole thing again now. Some episodes, certainly (like Once more, with feeling), but not everything.
    For me, it’s just one of those things that fit perfectly when I was a girl, it followed my growing up. Not being able to watch it with the same eyes takes a lot of the magic away.

    … and now I have to look for Once more, with feeling. I’m certain I downloaded it once

  8. 8

    One thing I wanted to mention in the OP (but forgot to) is that rewatching the show can be really fun if you do so with Jenny Trout’s Big Damn Buffy Rewatch. She’s a big Buffy fan, but she doesn’t shy away from criticizing the show. And she’s great with the snark!

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