The complete series, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, is streaming on Netflix right now and a lot of the girls I follow in Tumblr are watching it; it’s making me all nostalgic and happy. (It’s also throwing a lot of Spike gifs up on my dashboard, so thanks for that, girls.)
Now, I’m a Buffy fangirl from way back. In fact, I even watched the cult movie classic with Kristy Swanson in the titular role! (So, maybe it was because I was a Luke Perry fan, but that’s not examine that too closely, okay?) When the series started, I was hooked from the first season. Loved it. Felt it. Followed it. Watched it religiously.
I cried when she killed Angel. I sobbed when Joyce died. I drooled every time bad Spike strutted across the screen. (I still do that.) And you know what? I can re-watch that series anytime and still love it.
I bought the first season DVD set of True Blood. Watched it once.
I don’t dive into the whole “True Blood sucks” pool all that much. I’m quickly losing interest in the series as a whole, though I am a huge fan of the Charlaine Harris universe. But why has Buffy remained so popular, and True Blood so quickly alienated fans that should be its most loyal?
In the end (like so many things about storytelling) it comes down to character.
Joss Whedon loved his characters. Good guys, bad guys, bit parts … whatever. You could see it on the screen. You could hear it in the writing. There weren’t any extra people hanging around; every character contributed to the show. That doesn’t mean you were supposed to like every character, but you could tell that the writers appreciated and valued them.
True Blood? I could see half that enormous cast killed off and not shed a tear.
In twenty years, I think there will still be Buffy fans. Will they do some horrible remake when my kid is a teenager? Probably. And original fans will cringe. In twenty years will anyone remember True Blood? Maybe? I kind of doubt it. It has no where near the staying power of Buffy for many, many reasons.
In fact, I would argue that much of the popularity of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and fantasy novels now is the direct result of Buffy fans growing up and starting to write and buy a lot of books. Let’s face it, that show changed how many of us saw female heroines, and there’s a little Buffy in most of the popular female protagonists running around the paranormal playground. (There’s a few Spikes running around, too. I’m looking at you Bones … and I like what I see.) I know I am a proud Buffy fangirl, and I always will be.
So … thank you, Joss! For a lot of reasons. (*sob* Firefly! *sob*) But most especially for loving your characters and giving us a kick-ass show that still resonates.
Thanks for reading,