Joss Whedon’s 90s classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s seventh and final season ended twenty years ago. Continuously ranked amongst the greatest television series ever, what is it that makes Buffy so special?
The show was known for continuously pushing both its own boundaries and those of mainstream TV at the time. Critically acclaimed episode Hush saw the town of Sunnydale visited by ‘The Gentlemen’ who robbed the townsfolk of their voices in an episode that is almost entirely silent. It was a direct response to Whedon’s critics who said his show relied too much on witty dialogue instead of narrative. So, he removed his greatest strength and got an Emmy nomination in the process.
The episode Once More with Feeling can be credited with starting the trend of musical episodes in shows. Although, recent attempts by Riverdale may not have every reader thanking Buffy for this particular trope. While not all the ideas the Buffy crew had were executed to perfection, when they got it right they were as entertaining as they were groundbreaking.
Buffy is also notable for its queer visibility, with one of the leads Willow Rosenberg (played by Allison Hannigan) experimenting with her sexuality in season 4 and later being openly gay with her girlfriend Tara (Amber Benson). It also featured a kiss between two women when this was still taboo for teen audiences.
The show also never spoke down to its young viewership; tackling issues such as addiction, domestic abuse, school violence, and abusive relationships in a mature and careful way. The characters were deeply complex, whether villain-turned-anti-hero Spike vying to be a better soul or Buffy herself battling depression and questioning her duties as the slayer. No matter how dark things got the gang was still there for one another and the character growth felt natural and complete.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer, even twenty years after its finale, is still an entertaining and intricate piece of television that will continue to delight audiences for twenty more.
Featured Image Credit: 20th Century Fox