Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I will start out this review by proclaiming immediately and full heartedly that I am not a “vampire love story” kind of girl. I often find them trite and derivative and that many of the characters lack depth, complexity, or any sort of motivation or character arc. So take my word for it when I say that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a fantastic show about identity, adulthood, challenges, redemption, and what it means to be human (even if you’re not).

Buffy The Vampire Slayer was originally conceptualized by Joss Whedon in the early 1990s. His premise (and I’m paraphrasing here) was that he was tired of the B-rated horror movie trope where the young blonde girl is led into an abandoned alleyway by a monster and killed. He thought it would be cool if, instead, she turned around and kicked the monster’s ass. And thus, the idea that spurred the 1992 movie (which I haven’t seen; tbh I’ve heard it’s not so good) and, our main focus today, the 1997-2003 TV show.

From that premise sprung Buffy Summers, the spunky 16-year-old high school sophomore who has recently discovered that she is a vampire slayer. According to the show’s lore, there is one girl in every generation who is chosen to be the slayer—she is notified after the (usually early) death of the previous slayer, and is gifted with super strength and speed as to combat the vampires, demons, and other creatures of the night. She is paired with a bookish older (British) Watcher, whose role is to train and discipline her. But Buffy is not easily disciplined.

This show stands out among other similar shows of its genre for several reasons. First, it’s just brimming with personality. Every character has their own arc, their own perspective that helps balance and flavor the show. Together, they are simply overflowing with chemistry, with snappy and constantly fizzing dialogue: clever, often hilarious, and sometimes tragic. It also acknowledges mistakes and imperfections in these characters that other shows may shy away from. In fact, very little is avoided. The show deals with so many themes relevant to its audience, from addiction, depression, and sexual assault to feminism, homosexuality, transitions, and the challenges of growing up and discovering who you are.

So, pretty much, if you like quick and clever dialogue, if you like deep and constantly changing relationships between characters, if you like characters that grow and develop and learn, you should watch Buffy. If you like artistic camera work and innovative television formats, you should watch Buffy. If you like laughing and crying within the same episode, you should watch Buffy.

And yes, if you like vampire love stories, I assure you there are no shortages of those either.

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Penina Satlow is a senior at Classical High School in Providence, Rhode Island. At school, she plays field hockey, and acts in school plays. She sings with HaZamir, the International Jewish High School Choir. Penina loves reading fiction and watching spoken word poetry, though she has yet to perform her own. She is a member of the jGirls+ Editorial Board, working in the Fiction and Poetry Departments.