Why BtVS is So Cool (a.k.a. "Beauty and the Beasts")
"There’s moments in your life that make you, that set the
course of who you’ re gonna be. Sometimes they’re little, subtle
moments. Sometimes, they’re not. I’ll show you what I mean." This
quote, taken from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer
says it all. When I first heard of this show, I thought that it
sounded really stupid. Then, one night I was walking through my
living room to the kitchen and I saw the main hunk of the show,
Angel, without his shirt. At the sight of those rippling muscles,
I sat promptly down and watched Buffy for the first time. I loved
it. Not only because of Angel, although he is definitely an attention
grabber, but because of the way that the show is made. And with
that little event, my entire senior year (and even my freshman
year of college) was changed significantly.
It may sound dumb, loving a television show so much that you
count down the hours to the season premiere, or pay one hundred
and ninety two dollars to get cable just so you won’t have to
miss an episode, but it is not to me and many others. What makes
Buffy a wonderful show to watch (and what sucked me into the show
in the first place) is its premise and how the writers convey
it. The show’s underlying theme is that everyone has demons, whether
corporeal or physical, it’s how one deals with them that matters.
The show handles it with wit and humor, always balancing its dark
side with a lighter side full of snappy wit and the balm of true
friendship. This is meaningful because so many people fight inner
demons without any help. This show demonstrates to them that there’s
always light at the end of the tunnel. And in the end, Buffy always
is able to defeat the demon after her. So if she can, why not
My first example of the show’s optimistic outlook is the episode
When She Was Bad, the season premiere of the second season.
In the season finale of the first season, Buffy had been killed
by a vampire king called the Master. She was revived by her best
friend Xander, and defeated the Master. A summer had gone by and
the Buffy, who had gone on vacation, was back. However, she was
acting differently towards Xander and her other best friend Willow.
She was snappy and mean. When Angel, her vampire love, said that
he missed her, she pushed him away. But she didn’t do this on
purpose. She had died, and everywhere she went, she saw the Master’s
face, trying to kill her again. So she pushed her friends back
out of her own fear, and in doing this almost got them killed.
However, just in time, she regained enough clarity to save them
and to kill her own fears by powdering and scattering the Master’s
remains so that he could never come back to hurt her or her friends
again. This illustrates that one can surmount anything, even overwhelming
fear to defeat problems. And believe me, this show was one of
the most humorous with lines like Angel telling Buffy that they
needed a distraction so they could rescue the Slayerettes. Buffy
replies: "Okay, I’ll kill them all, that ought to distract them."
And an end dialog between Jenny and Cordelia, two other people
that had been put in jeopardy was priceless:
Cordelia: "What an ordeal. And you know what the worst part
Ms. Calendar: "Hmm?"
Cordelia: "It stays with you forever. No matter what they tell
you, none ofthat rust and blood and grime comes out. I mean, you
can dry clean 'till Judgment Day. You're living with those stains."
Ms. Calendar: "Yeah, that's the worst part of being hung upside-down
by a vampire who wants to slit your throat: the stains."
Cordelia: "I hear ya'."
Another demon that Buffy has had to slay on the inside has been
herself. In the middle of the second season, Angel lost his soul
and became evil (adding of course to the torn-lovers tension between
Buffy and Angel that everyone loves). He killed a friend and vowed
to kill more, if not all of Buffy’s friends by the time he was
through. Buffy was not afraid of Angel or what he would do, she
simply blamed herself for him becoming evil. In the episode I
Only Have Eyes For You, two ghosts, James and Grace, possessed
people. They then re-enacted the scene where, in a lover’s spat,
he killed her and then himself. The boy could never receive forgiveness
from the one that he needed it from, his lover, so he haunted
the school growing more uneasy as time went by. Buffy hates James
as soon as she learns about him. She thinks he put himself in
eternal torment, and as she puts it, "He should be doing sixty
years in prison, breaking rocks and making special friends with
Rosco the weight lifter." However, this is because she secretly,
even to herself, identifies with the ghost. And the ghost identifies
with her. He draws her into the school to possess her, and Angel
follows her in, where he is promptly possessed by the spirit of
Grace. They all reenact the fight, except that when Buffy/James
shoots Angel/Grace, he/she gets back up before she/he can kill
her/himself. Angel/Grace forgives them. Buffy and James both receive
their peace, and the two ghosts depart, leaving the still evil
Angel and a restored Buffy. This shows that forgiveness can exist,
no matter how unworthy one thinks they are. Even though it may
not be permanent, redemption can be attained.
". . . Night came on and a full moon rose high over the trees,
lighting the land until it lay in ghostly day. And the strain
of the primitive remained alive and active. Faithfulness and devotion,
things born of roof and fire were his, yet he retained his wildness
and wiliness, and from the depths of the forest a call still sounded.
. ." This excerpt from The Call of the Wild by Jack
London describes the episode All Men Are Beasts very accurately.
Buffy sent Angel to Hell just after he got his soul back in the
finale of season two. In this episode, he comes back from Hell,
broken from being tortured in the demon realm. Although he has
his soul back, he acts very feral, like someone broken almost
past redemption. Buffy, who had been having dreams about him since
she sent him into the demon realm, saw him and hid him. Everyone
else hates him because of the evil things that he had done when
he lost his soul. Buffy is terrified that he will never be well.
When there is a murder, Willow is afraid that it is her boyfriend
Oz, who is a werewolf, and Buffy is afraid that it is Angel. It
turns out to be another kind of monster, an abusive boyfriend
who exacted revenge on the men he thought were after his girlfriend.
The boyfriend almost has Buffy when Angel, who escaped from his
chains, saves her. Buffy had been torturing herself throughout
the entire episode, battling both the need to keep her lost love
and the feeling that she should kill him, that he was irredeemable.
when Angel saved her life, she knew that she could not, and just
makes sure that he is watched over her. This is when her redemption,
started in I Only Have Eyes For You is fulfilled, because
she can save him now.
Plots on Buffy usually have the same format. As Xander says,
"I'm not worried. If there's something bad out there, we'll find,
you'll slay, we'll party!" Actually, that’s not only how Buffy
slays her physical demons, but about how we search ourselves for
imperfections, eliminate them, and then lead happier lives. All
the episodes have the bigger picture of people getting past troubles
with a song in their heart and a witty one-liner on their tongue.
What everybody loves is that no matter what may befall the Slayer
and her Slayerettes, they will always be the best of friends,
and will fight to be happier people. This is something we all
should try. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a witty, dramatic, comedic
horror show that should not be missed. This show has some of the
funniest characters, the coolest plots and the best lines that
I have ever seen or heard. This series can reflect every time
you failed a midterm to bring understanding to mixed emotions
you might have over anything. It can make you laugh and cry in
the same episode. Not bad for a one hour show, huh? When I first
started watching it, I had no idea of what I was getting myself
into. I would not change a thing. As Whistler, a good demon says,
"Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you’re not ready
for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not
really, but it does. So what? Are we helpless? Puppets? No. The
big moments are gonna come, you can’t change that. It’s what you
do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.
" That is something that we can all relate to.