I started watching “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”… so here are thoughts after two seasons

It turns out that there are a lot of shows I’ve wanted to watch for a while but never got around to. I’ve been catching up, though! I recently finished my first-ever watch-through of Babylon 5 (check out my posts on the series) and now I’m already 2 seasons deep into Buffy. This show is… phenomenal. My discussion of the first two seasons follows, and will have SPOILERS for those seasons. Please do not spoil later seasons for me!

Look, no small amount of my love for this show comes from straight-up nostalgia about the 90s. That’s there in oodles. It’s even better because it’s absolutely unintentional. If you grew up in the 90s or have any interest in that decade, you’re going to adore the show just because of that. The “high schoolers” (played by 20+ year olds, of course) wear the most 90s jeans, the most 90s hair, and the most 90s makeup all the time. The slang, the concerns, the social commentary–it’s all there, and it is so much fun.

But nostalgia would only take me so far. The show is genuinely fun to watch. Every single episode has great one-liners, fun characters, and new threats for Buffy to face. Every character gets genuine development throughout, moving from some one-dimensional characters to people you’re involved with, even as you often wish they’d make much better choices. So far, I think my favorite is the hapless librarian, Rupert Giles. He has such a winsome manner while also being there when you need him. I like him a lot. Obviously, Buffy is another favorite.

Season 1’s plot centered around a generically evil baddy trying to unleash hell on their small town (with an exceptionally high murder rate due to vampires–they should probably talk to Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote about this). It’s a fine story, and it gives us a chance to flesh out the main characters while not having to worry too much about intricacies of plot. Of course, there are some great standout episodes that pad that plot. The silliness of Teacher’s Pet, an episode in which the baddie turns out to be a giant preying mantis cannot be overstated–yet it works. It works phenomenally well because they embrace the campiness, and it becomes a recurring joke in later episodes. Speaking of that–the series has continuity of plot that actually builds on itself over time. That doesn’t sound like a big deal in our era of huge epic plots that continue throughout whole series, but shows like Buffy (and Babylon 5, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) had to build that basis. These aren’t a bunch of one-off episodes. Things placed in seemingly random fashion in one episode turn out to be bigger deals than initially thought–like Amy the witch from episode 3, who turns up big in season 2!

So yeah, there are some great moments throughout, and no small amount of nostalgia involved. It’s just an extraordinarily fun show to watch all the way through. Season 2 ramps up the intensity with a cast of antagonists (and huge development of Angel–good or evil?) who are far more three-dimensional than the generically evil “Master.” I gotta admit, some of the developments with Spike in particular caught me off guard. He and Drusilla are quite dynamic as “baddies,” and that is a credit to the writers and their acting. Drusilla has that kind of offhand glee for evil that makes her much more interesting than she’d otherwise have been.

Also, Buffy’s mom is just… not good. The finale of season 2 really brings that out. Maybe she turns into a more dynamic and kind character later, but she’s basically done nothing but blame Buffy or anyone but herself for everything that goes wrong the entire time. And then her reaction to finally finding out that Buffy is the Slayer is… to kick her from the house? What an idiot!

I’d be remiss to not mention Jenny Calendar, a “techno-pagan” who steals the show in multiple episodes. She becomes a fascinating character through season 2, and then she’s ripped away from us–and Giles!–in devastating fashion by Angel. I don’t know how, but I am hoping they’ll find a way to resurrect her at some point.

Anyway, we couldn’t leave the show alone after the ending that left Buffy distraught about killing (banishing?) Angel. On to season 3!


Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!


7 thoughts on “I started watching “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”… so here are thoughts after two seasons

  1. socrates17 says:

    If Bab5 is a great show, a genuine work of art, Buffy is a fun show, a favorite show, without being a great work of art. I do love it, though, and I am not driven by nostalgia. I grew up in the ’50s and came of age as a young adult in the ’60s. I don’t think my love of ’50s television, and especially the sitcoms, or my love of ’60s music are down to nostalgia, but to superior quality. I mean, seriously, has anyone matched the quality of The Byrds of The Kinks? But maybe I’m kidding myself. There was some good new music in the ’70s, ’80s & ’90s, and some good writing and some good movies (the ’90s were especially good for French cinema), but the fashion and the culture were especially repellant to me in the ’70s & ’80s & even the early ’90s, although by the time of Buffy’s filming they had lost that fingernails on a blackboard quality that abominations like Welcome Back Kotter possessed.

  2. Yep, Buffy is great because instead of being static it’s dynamic and for the most part follows through with character development and show mythos, whereas something like Charmed is much more flippant in both aspects and thus much more traditional.

  3. I don’t think she meant to kick her out of the house, I think she was hoping that Buffy would stay in the house when she said that.

  4. It’s been how many decades since I took my phone off the hook on Tuesday night to watch the next episode of Buffy? I have so much to say about it but I’m sensitive to keeping you spoiler-free so…. Keep watching!

    These people became some of my best friends. They are so very real. And they seemed to grow up with me. They went through a lot of what I went through. It’s cathartic. BtVS is designed to take all the pressures of the real world and make them manageable by turning them into supernatural creatures – things we can fight. For example, you think you had a bad break up? Ha! At least he didn’t turn evil and kill your teacher! You think your mom doesn’t understand what your going through, well, if you are the slayer then no, she probably doesn’t. But what a metaphor for so many things “Have you tried not being the Slayer?”

    We get tired of getting out of bed, of going to school, of doing our chores, then our jobs, then adulting. By taking everything up a demonic notch, BtVS helps put this world into perspective. It’s just life.

    They have made college courses about the show, so I know I’m not the only one with a lot to say about it. But I’ll shut up now. Enjoy Season 3!

    • J.W. Wartick says:

      We’re most of the way through season 4 right now. I need to write up another post! Season 3 was a ton of fun, but season 4 has taken it to another level. Initially, the college campus/etc. had a lot of changes and started to feel monster-of-the-week, but then a bunch of storylines got tied together and a ton of great episodes in a row happened. It’s just phenomenal! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Michael says:

    In a lot of ways, Buffy and B5 are huge influences on the current “golden age” of TV we’re experiencing. Both gave us arcs — seasonal and overall — and changed the way stories were told on TV.

    Season one of Buffy is interesting in that it was complete before it aired so there was no change to course correct. It’s all about the series finding its voice and even its visual look. There’s a huge jump in the visual palate in the season one finale, directed by Whedon. Then, season two kicks off with When She Was Bad and the style and tone are set. (Indeed, When She Was Bad expertly foreshadows some of the big turns of season two if you go back and watch it again).

    Season two is my favorite of Buffy. It could be that this is where I jumped on board, or it could be that the highs of the season are just a bit higher. Oh sure, there are a few lows (Killed by Death just doesn’t connect and never has) but I’d argue that School Hard, When She Was Bad, Becoming Part 1 and 2, Suprise, Innocence and Lie to Me are all superlative stories that are close to perfect.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.