Binging Buffy: The stakes of watching season 1 for the first time
For years, I've nodded in agreement as Buffy was brought up in conversations about great shows. I've laughed along to jokes about Spike as if I knew anything about Spike other than the fact that his hair was kind of weird. But no more. Because I'm finally watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
If you're unfamiliar with the series, Buffy is a high-school girl whose life changes overnight when she becomes the slayer, a super-powered warrior tasked with saving the world from all things supernatural. You know, once she finishes her homework. (Spoiler: She never finishes her homework.)
The series, which ran from 1997-2003, starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as the ass-kicking teen and presented television with a refreshing combination of creativity, badassery, and humor — the razor-sharp teeth of its monsters matched only by the razor-sharp wit of its characters.
I'm not entirely sure how I missed Buffy when it was on, but for a long time now, I've wanted to watch. Because let me make one thing clear: I understand its impact. I know how much people love this show, and better yet, I know how much it's influenced things I love. Vampire Diaries co-creator Julie Plec has been outspoken about the influence Buffy had on her, and TVD is one of my greatest obsessions. Not to blame peak TV, but I completely blame peak TV for why I haven't had a moment to go back and watch seven seasons of vampire action.
But all that changed when quarantine began, so I hope you'll join me as I take you through my experience of watching Buffy one season at a time. And that brings us to season 1.
I'm not going to lie: It took me longer than I expected to get into Buffy. The fervor with which people seem to love this show led me to believe that I would be instantly hooked, and I was not. I watched the pilot, chuckled at the fact that Buffy seemed to pull a stake out of nowhere whenever she needed it, and then took a bit of a break. Then I watched the next few episodes and took another break. For me, the struggle of season 1 was the lack of a larger story I could sink my teeth into. The more procedural elements of the show were there, and Buffy was indeed kicking ass, but without a greater story at play, I could easily stop watching and pick it back up later.
It wasn't until episode 7, "Angel," that I was hooked, which should come as a shock to no one who knows me because I am a SUCKER for a forbidden romance. The second that Angel became more than just some hot creeper in the shadows, I could see a larger arc appearing, and it was one I wanted to see through. This is not to say Buffy needs a romance. I mean, I love a romance, but as much as it was about that, "Angel" was the first time I could see that bigger story forming, more than just Buffy vs. this Master guy I didn't really know or care about yet. (I did, however, love Giles from day one.)
All that being said, I was very happy to learn from the Buffy experts in my life that season 1 is known to be one of the weakest seasons, because need I remind you that high schoolers are possessed by HYENAS in season 1?! And when the principal gets in their way, they eat him!!! Here's a direct quote from my notes: "How do these kids go about life knowing they ate their principal?" As if being a teen isn't already hard enough.
But if that's the season's worst moment, the best is watching Buffy kill the Master is her dress for the dance. After all, it's the '90s, and she can do both!
Now, I'd like to take you through a few superlatives I've made up for the season:
Most relatable quote: Buffy's mom saying, "I was dreaming about bills."
Episode I'd least like to live inside: The one with the fumigation party. "Fumigation" and "party" are two words that should never go together.
Favorite episode: As stated above, "Angel." Give me a brooding man and a badass woman, and I will root for them until I die.
Alright, I've got to get back to watching. As Buffy says, "If the apocalypse comes, beep me!" (But not really, I'm useless with a stake. And I don't have a beeper because it's 2020.)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer