October is the month of falling leaves, the period in which life gives way to death, everything stops and then changes in the infinite circle of the seasons, to culminate with the most mystical festivity of the year: Halloween. So what better way to celebrate Samhain’s night than with the most famous vampire slayer heroine of all time? I’m talking about her, Buffy Summers.
The wooden stake at the belt and combative temperance; a witch friend, and a slightly clumsy friend: these are the ingredients that make our favorite vampire hunter irresistible. With also one of the first supernatural love triangles in history. The mysterious Angel or the irreverent Spike? Tell the truth: none of us had a weakness for one without also having it for the other.
An ode to the supernatural
It is 1997, vampires have now begun to populate the imagination of many and the supernatural dives into modern culture. It is in this year that Buffy makes her first television appearance.
Thus, Evil comes in all its darkest forms through the figure of the vampire but also demons and monsters. With the invaluable help of the school’s librarian, Rupert Giles, the Slayer is at the head of every supernatural event to keep those demonic entities at bay. This is how the public comes into contact with that world beyond the veil, which suddenly becomes real and is less scary. By giving Evil a form, with disgusting and bloodthirsty monsters, it becomes possible to fight it. And if Buffy is there to kick them in the ass with courage and irony, these demons stop feeding on our terror, and at night we all sleep quieter dreams.
In this way, the producer of the series, Joss Whedon – at that time not yet among the big names in cinema -, managed to create a new television genre, the teen-horror, destined to become one of the main genres of modern TV series.
Friends: the best companions in adventures
Willow Rosenberg, Xander Harris, Buffy Summers, helped by Mr. Giles, Cordelia, Tara and Oz: the scooby-gang. A protagonist who changes the idea of the classic girl in danger, to transform her into the war machine capable of driving out evil by herself. An ordinary teenager who finds herself surrounded by friends who decide to support her in her fight against the Darkness. In the context of ordinary life, such as the years of high school, we, therefore, find an extraordinary group.
Willow Rosemberg soon becomes one of the most interesting characters in the series. In the passing of the seasons, it is easy to identify her emotional growth, which highlights a considerable inner strength. It is a clear example of how kindness and shyness are not to be confused with weakness of spirit; in most cases, behind a quiet soul, the fire of indomitable courage is hidden. Her story with Tara represents one of the best homosexual relationships of the TV series; and her inner split, her abandonment to darkness, is the demonstration that even the best can get lost in the coils of pain.
Always my favorite character, it was thanks to her that I approached magic, fantasy, and the occult, understanding that even within our daily life, we can always find something extraordinary.
Xander Harris represents the classic slightly awkward guy. He doesn’t have Willow’s clear intelligence, but he’s loyal and brave, the friend you can always rely on. His character is standoffish and clumsy, but he proves capable of taking advantage of opportunities and eventually manages to find his way. He doesn’t get down easily, and in his inconstancy, he still manages to be a staple in the life of his friends. It acts as a deterrent to Buffy and Willow’s dramas, always finding ways to make us smile.
The gap between Buffy and Faith
If in Buffy we find the Slayer who has now accepted her fate, in Faith we find the rebel who doesn’t want to bend her life to a higher ideal. We could define them as two sides of the same coin that create the right contrast within the series. Faith is the disturbing element that moves the narrative line and pushes Buffy to reconsider her role as a vampire slayer. In their differences, the way to get along is hidden; and when in the last season they work together to save the world, supporting each other, the two sides of the coin merge together.
In their game of differences, a sort of metaphor can be grasped: within all of us there is a constant debate between what we owe and what we want to do; the only way to find a balance is to try to make the duty coincide with pleasure.
In several films and TV series of the 90s, the figure of the vampire was represented with the typically distorted grin that we also find in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This sort of reinforced eyebrow and teeth on display to express all their aggression, which then disappears definitively in the stage representations from 2008 onwards. So too Spike, Angel, Drusilla and Darla flaunt their absence of soul through this evil snout.
Drusilla is an unstable vampire whose madness seems to fascinate those around her. She has the typical temperance of the bewitching villain who desires everyone at her feet; but at the same time we could identify her as a victim of the cruelty of Angelus, Angel’s alter ego, the vampire with a soul.
This clear division between Good and Evil within a character will also be found in the future, in another show: with Stefan Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries, and his alter ego the Ripper. As Buffy will be Angel’s lifeline, able to help him get a soul back, Elena Gilbert will be the one who will bring Stefan Salvatore to reason in the future. We could therefore define the troubled history between Buffy and Angel as the first attempt to demonstrate how women know how to find the truth beyond all the layers under which vulnerability is hidden, sometimes even in a somewhat dangerous and masochistic way.
Instead, when the inauspicious moment arrives for Spike to receive a soul, he feels disoriented and confused. He hates the annoyance of having a conscience, and in a comically amusing way he tries in every way to do evil, to behave in an evil way; but his every attempt fails miserably, and in the end, he becomes almost honeyed in his love for Buffy, who sports a firmer soul in this new relationship.
Their bond is different from the one the protagonist had with Angel; it is an attraction that seems wrong, that ignites the thrill of the forbidden and kisses given in the shadows. If with Angel she seemed to hold back, with Spike she lets herself go. He is a truer character than the way we used to see Angel; it has more nuances of the human soul and in the end it makes that sacrifice that made it a little dearer to everyone.
Old but Platinum
Buffy The Vampire Slayer has now become a cornerstone of the American cult genre. Therefore, more than an “Old but Gold“, I would call it an “Old but Platinum”. It stood out thanks to an original storyline aimed at a teen audience, thus paving the way for the following most popular teen dramas. The genius of Joss Whedon hit the mark with a masterpiece that bewitched thousands of young adults.
So what are you waiting for? Turn on the TV and get ready for a Halloween marathon between vampires and demons. A wooden stake in hand, we follow the exploits of Buffy, Willow and Xander once again.