The Worst Show I’ve Ever Loved- 20 Years on from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

by Marcus Pepperell

On the 20th of May 2003, the final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired, concluding a seven-season epic that began in 1997. I wasn’t even born yet when the series ended. But now, 20 years later, I have found myself becoming increasingly obsessed with it.

For the uninitiated, the show follows the adventures of Buffy Summers - “The Slayer” - as she attempts to balance the responsibilities of ordinary life with her sacred monster-hunting duties. It begins with Buffy as a high school student, but later seasons see her take on university and the workforce.

She’s assisted by the “Scooby Gang,” a colourful group of friends and allies, each of whom is an interesting character in their own right. 

Via Vogue

I initially viewed Buffy through a strictly ironic lens. Its painfully 90s aesthetic, campy monster costumes, and often ludicrous plots all invited ridicule. What’s more, most of the show’s dialogue is written in “Buffyspeak” - a distinctive mess of quips, pop culture references, and general awkwardness.

However, just before the second season’s tragic twist, something changed. I became increasingly invested in the plot, growing to love the characters and the world. The aforementioned flaws became stylistic choices I learned to appreciate, like a musician using lo-fi recording techniques.

A number of elements contributed to this shift in perspective. The greatest of them, the thing that pulled me from the clutches of irony and into the jaws of outright fandom, is the characters. Each member of the Scooby Gang is simply a joy to watch, alone and in their interactions.

Highlights include: Giles, Buffy’s mentor with a dark past; Spike, a former villain and reluctant vampiric ally; and Willow, a shy computer nerd turned godlike witch.

Willow is especially noteworthy as a landmark piece of lgbtq+ representation in media, coming at a time when representation of this kind was minimal. Her sexuality is hinted at in the third season, but she formally comes out as gay in season four.