We expect death on a show like Buffy, but we expect it by way of vampires, demons and major climactic battles. That Joyce dies from a normal-body failing is shocking. It feels incredibly poignant that the two biggest deaths of the series – excluding the series finale or the death of a certain character who comes back to life – happen in the most mundane, human ways possible. (The other one is Tara, who’s killed by a gun.) Usually a loud and dramatic show, this episode is quieter with sparse background noise and little dialogue, allowing it to slow down and focus on the minute details of the different ways people grieve.
It sometimes feels that there are too many reasons to count why the show means so much to me even though it’s so removed from my own coming of age. For those who watched ‘Buffy’ while it was airing in the late ’90s and early ’00s or came to it later but had lived though that time, there tends to be a great sense of nostalgia, especially for folks who were growing up alongside the characters. While I’m a generation removed from the original viewers of the show, it still resonates with me deeply (and with friends who I’ve converted into fans). It is my belief that you either love ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ or you haven’t watched it yet. For faithful fans and for the uninitiated, here are five reasons ‘Buffy’ still matters today and will for years to come.
Back when I first started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I could not resist the humor, drama, and the monsters. They so often dealt with universal issues with specificity. Now, stuck indoors in New York City as COVID-19 cases increase once again, there’s one particular episode that hits more deeply than in my original viewing. The sixth season episode “Normal Again” explores mental health amid our current isolation and disconnections.
“Hush” fully embraces the monster-as-metaphor template, with the Gentlemen as representations of government officials who restrict speech. Under a censorship regime, messages, especially those perceived as being contrary to the state’s ends, are banned by removing the political voices of both citizens and media. Like the Gentlemen, those who censor often do so to conceal truths. As Yale historian Timothy Snyder writers, “Since the truth sets you free, people who oppress you resist the truth.” Modeling some heads of state both past and present, the Gentlemen don’t care what norms have been established; they’re all about getting their way.
“It’s an invasion of my head, it’s like there are these strangers walking around in there,” Buffy says. And at the time that was just a guess from Joss Whedon and episode writer Jane Espenson about what hearing others’ thoughts would feel like, but now it;s what we deal with every day as we inject the rage and anxiety and bad takes of hundreds, if not thousands of people directly into our brains.
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Official Grimoire’ is a detailed history of magic and Sunnydale. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Official Grimoire is a treasure…
Armin Shimmerman is one of a large number of recognisable actors that form the Anataeus Theatre Company. As well as staging theatre productions, the company…